Little by Little

“Oh, I’m surprised you don’t have monolids”. “You must be pretty good at math huh”. Lots of Asians have been conditioned to think these types of comments are normal. While this may not seem like racial discrimination, it is. The mainstream public views racism as targetted, aggressive acts due to an individual’s skin color, but that’s not always the case. Racism is still offensive no matter the intention or severity of the act.

Racial prejudice can be as big as someone publicly segregating you or as small as saying hello to you in a foreign language they assumed you would understand. One of my experiences with racism was when a Caucasian male jokingly said “Kon’ nichiwa” to me and just walked away, assuming I’m of Japanese descent. This showcase of ignorance led me to confusion because it wasn’t violent or hateful. Recalling this situation builds up anger because of the disrespect that was shown to me by the man. Even if an act of racism is small, it still has the same effect: it makes you feel isolated. Understanding casual racism or microaggressions is important because so many people experience it, and are expected to act as if these discriminating comments are acceptable and normal. 

Being able to identify casual racism, whether you are the subject of it or see it happening to someone else, is crucial. The first step to fixing any problem is determining what the problem is. Pointing out a specific ethnic feature someone has or doesn’t have is something that many people do as a compliment, but most of the time it comes off as rude. Humans come in all different ways so there’s is no need to comment on the ways someone’s eyes or nose looks. Another big example is mentioning stereotypes regarding a specific race of people. No one appreciates being asked “you must be a bad driver since you’re Asian right?” or told, “you’re probably really good at math”. These racial stereotypes only help normalize these microaggressions further. While only a couple of instances were illustrated, there are still many more that minorities often experience. 

Being of Asian descent in America is sometimes scary, so how can we improve the way that Asian people are treated? One thing everyone can do is call out when someone says something offensive. Sometimes people don’t know what they say is offensive, so telling them off to the side and informing them is one way to not be aggressive and prevent that type of behavior. Simply telling people what they say or do is wrong is a big step, if you don’t say anything people assume they’re not doing anything wrong. Another thing you can do is learn about the discrimination Asian Americans have faced throughout history. Learning about history seems silly, but it’s important to understand the type of discrimination Asian Americans have had to face. Although society has made big strides from the past, the fact is that racism is still prevalent throughout America. 

The biggest reason why we learn about history in school is so that it never repeats itself. Asian hate has always been something that exists in America, but it’s become more prevalent. We as a society need to stop this continuous cycle of prejudice and discrimination to move forward. Even if the steps are small to change this cycle, they are steps still being taken. 

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