MY Heartfelt Confession

By Michelle Quach | Rockville '20

By Cynthia Zoe | Rockville

Being an Asian-American living in America has led to many interesting and bitter experiences. Racist remarks and stereotypical comments flow to my ears from time to time which always led me to wonder if Asians were cool or not. Around sixth grade, I steered away from my culture because I thought it wasn’t “cool” enough. I wanted to fit in with the other sixth graders which led me to buy into the various trends that the other “cool” kids were into. I wanted to look like the other pretty girls at school but I didn’t seem to ever be able to look like them or see the world around me as they did so I blamed it on me being Asian. It got to the point where I didn’t want to spend time with my parents on Lunar New Year or any other Asian holiday, but when I was forced to, I would get angry and frustrated because I wanted to hang out with my friends.

Hanging out with friends made me feel “cool” and “normal.” I had this thought where if I was trendy enough and looked like the other pretty girls at school, being made fun of for being Asian wouldn’t be a problem. I identified as one of those girls, not as a Vietnamese-American. I was stuck between my school life, which was the American side, and my home life, which was the Vietnamese side. I would often hide the fact that I knew how to speak Vietnamese as well. I was embarrassed. It wasn’t until I discovered many other Asian-American actors trying to make it big in films and shows. I realized how hard it was to be Asian American in society and social media. I also discovered Korean pop, which made me gain more interest in my own culture. I began to love my own culture and bragged about it to other people. There are shows and films starring Asian-Americans such as Crazy Rich Asians, which has an all Asian cast and was a big hit for Asian-Americans in Hollywood.

Another T.V. show called Fresh Off The Boat is based on a Chinese family living in America. After discovering these new forms of pride and representation, I became more proud to say I am Vietnamese-American. After realizing the increase in Asian representation, it made me fall in love with who I am and where I come from. My culture is something I don’t mind showing off as well. However, four years ago, I was rehearsing for my friend’s quinceañera which happened every Saturday. On Saturday, my mother was coming to pick me up and I wasn’t able to eat the food that the parents had prepared. There were foods like rice and quesadillas, so many foods that looked so delicious. The dance instructor then questioned me, “Why aren’t you eating? You want sushi don’t you?” I felt offended by it but brushed it off as if it were nothing. I feel like I should have said something now, but I didn’t.

Although I was beyond proud of being Asian-American, there are still people who generalize Asians with these ridiculous stereotypes. People think stereotypes are humorous, but it genuinely makes me angry, knowing that society feels this way towards certain racial groups. I want society to know that ethnic groups do not always match what they are generalized to be. At the end of the day, despite the terrible and generalizing remarks, I am still extremely proud to be an Asian-American, better yet, Vietnamese-American.