I just finished reading Rocky Oliver’s blog on racism (which I thought was a very good blog – thank you Rocky for sharing).  His blog actually gave me a great lead in to a blog that I have been meaning to write, but haven’t due to the right timing of the subject at hand.  It’s been on my mind off and on for a long, long time, but more so since U.S. President-Elect Barak Obama’s victory.

Just as Rocky’s blog indicates, you would think that after all these years of fighting for our civil rights and for our equality, that we have overcome racism and all it’s ugliness.  That we, as human beings have surpassed this single mindedness and become higher beings. But then you hear stories, ones similar to Rocky’s and you realize that we still have a long way to go.  Racism occurs in all nationalities and races.  Whether you are black, white, Asian, American Indian or otherwise, each race/nationality usually has some sort of prejudice against another human because they aren’t “of the same” culture, skin tone or share the same beliefs as they do.

Being born of a different race, I wanted to share with you what it was like growing up with a different skin color in a land of freedoms and opportunities.  As an Asian-American, born and raised in the USA, sharing the same rights and freedoms as any white person, I never thought myself as being “different” from any one else.  I was just as much as a “Caucasian” as the next person was.  You never really thought any different or that you were seen as being “different” from any one else.  Why should you when you can speak the language, have the same educational opportunities and share the same freedoms as everyone else?  But then, as you grow up and leave the shelter of your home, you come across (in my case) fellow students that call you “jap” or “slant eye” or better yet, blame you for Pearl Harbor.  When I was first called a “jap” (it was probably grade school years), I didn’t understand why they called me this name or what it meant.  As I grew up, I knew why they would call me such names (believe me, it went on even after grade school years), but because I was secure with who I was and was proud of my heritage, I never let these types of slurs bother me much. Even to this day, it doesn’t bother me.  Most people that have reverted to these slurs do so jokingly and usually come from close friends done in fun and jest.  I, myself, do some joking about my own race and the stereotypes that come with it.

However, I am sure there are many strangers that look at me and think of me differently.  Yet, again, I never think of myself as different so I tend to forget that this type of mentality exists.  To believe that someone could actually not like me just because of my race and skin color is hard to grasp sometimes.  Yet, it does exist.  There are times that I look across at a blanket of strangers and think to myself, “do they think of me as different?  are they prejudice of me and my race?”  But its usually a fleeting thought, but one that does come up every once in a while for me.

Its unfortunate that racism still lives today and that there are people that cannot overcome their prejudices.  As someone that has been the brunt of sometimes cruel prejudices even though you have been raised as an American first, it is heart breaking to know that we haven’t come that far along and that we need so much more to go before we can be truly free and united.

I am proud to be an American and even more proud to be an Asian-American.  Let’s hope that we as human beings overcome our prejudices so that we all can celebrate our differences.