Acceptance

When I was in Elementary school, I went to a school that didn’t have many Asians in it. I remember being in 2nd grade and having some kid say something about his uncle fighting the Vietnamese in Vietnam. He made fun of me because I had to be one of them. I’m not Vietnamese, but to that kid, and his parents, all Asians had to be Vietnamese and were not “welcome”. As I grew older I learned about the Japanese internment camps, and how Japanese Americans were distrusted, just because of their heritage. I asked why German and Italian Americans weren’t placed in camps too. I learned that many were discriminated upon, but mostly they could blend in and assimilate.
I saw racism focus on anyone that looked “Arabic” during the first Gulf war, and then after 9-11. Even Indian friends faced racism because bigoted Americans couldn’t tell the difference. I know Koreans faced the same kinds of Racism during the Korean War, and the Chinese were mistreated during the 1800’s because of the influx of immigrants. I now see Latinos being targeted for the same reasons.
All these groups face racism for one reason. They don’t “look” American. I’ve been the victim of such racism. I often times talk about Americans as if I wasn’t one. I was born here, I’ve only ever lived in the U.S. I’ve been called out for talking about Americans because I am one so why don’t I always claim it? I now realize I meant “white” people when I talked about “Americans”. That’s wrong, I’m an American I’m proud to be one. I claim it proudly, and I hold no ill will. I love this country.
I grew up feeling like I didn’t belong because I didn’t “look” right. That feeling is something that evolved from the casual racism that young children are exposed to. It’s something we must all stop from happening.
Let’s all take a moment to realize that most of us are descended from immigrants. We all have ancestors that probably fought each other. We are all here for the same reasons. The promise of opportunity. Stop pointing out differences and start looking at each other’s humanity. No child should grow up feeling like an outcast in a nation of immigrants.

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