True Tales of a Collegiette: Stereotyped "Asian"

When I was applying for college during my senior year of high school, I went to go ask one of my teachers for a recommendation. When he asked me what major I was planning to go into, I told him that I wanted to go into education and become a teacher. He looked at me as if he was confused and asked why I wasn’t going into the medical or scientific field. That’s where all my friends and the other Asians were going. I raised my eyebrows and told him math and science weren’t my strong subjects. If I decided to become a doctor or scientist with my grades, I’d probably kill someone or destroy something. I don’t remember being offended by it then, but I realized that it wasn’t the first time something like that happened to me.

When I moved to a different town at the end of sixth grade, I was automatically put in ESL. The teachers automatically thought that I had just moved from Korea and didn’t know that I could speak English. When I told my ESL teacher, in perfect English in my opinion, she was surprised that I was in the classroom, and told me that I could leave. Most of the new students in the town were those who had just come from Korea, so the staff assumed that I was also the same… When it was clearly written that I was born and raised in the United States.

This isn’t the first time that Asians have been stereotyped as “Asians.” We are not, I am not, the “Asian” that American shows portray. Not all Asians are math and science geniuses; not all Asians are fobs (fresh off boat) who can’t speak a word of English, and not all Asians apply to go to the medical or science field for college. But people find it so surprising, or out of the ordinary if I say that those qualities don’t apply to me. They say, “But you’re Asian?” Yeah, I am. But you’re White, Black, Hispanic, and so on. Are we stating the obvious now? I’m just me, and you’re just you. There is no need to stereotype or label people according to their ethnicity and color of skin. It’s unnecessary.

So to my high school teacher, you’re right. I’m Asian, Korean to be more exact. But that doesn’t limit me. I can be whatever I want to be, as long as I put the work and effort in. And so can you. ​​


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