I am proud to be an Asian American, despite the fear and dreadful attacks that have ravaged the United States this past year. Both of my parents are foreigners who came here to pursue the American dream but faced discrimination. My mother has unfortunately faced the effects of white supremacy since a white man once tried to take her seat at an opera. He claimed that she had stolen his ticket, but the usher defended her. My father was paid lower wages because he was not a US citizen, although he is not Asian. It pains me to see people who see their foreign heritage as a burden that could weigh them down for the rest of their lives when it is, in fact, something that makes us exceptional.
I have been encouraged and inspired by my parents’ challenges and successes and the successes of other immigrants and minorities. I am also inspired by individuals like Ang Lee and Confucius as they have made themselves known throughout the world through their accomplishments. Ang Lee is an acclaimed film director who has directed some of the finest films in history, such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi. He has won several Oscars, BAFTA awards, and other awards that reflect his skills. Confucius managed to spread his philosophical ideas to the corners of the world, even though he only traveled around China. His ideas are still present today, and they are taught during history classes, so we can continue to learn from and be influenced by him. I am inspired because I know that there are other people who are like me who have succeeded. I will not and cannot let anyone tell me otherwise.
I am fortunate enough to have escaped the devastating treatment of Asian Americans throughout my lifetime, but I empathize with the victims. As children, we did not know any better, so some of my friends would play with their eyes and stretch their far corners to look “Asian.” A person doing that at my age or at an older age would likely be called racist, although it is not quite as extreme as what has been reported on the news in the past few weeks. I never really thought much about Asian stereotypes as a child, and I still think little of some of them since they actually apply to me, such as eating rice often; however, I know that it is wrong to judge people based on stereotypes. To know that people have been bullied for them and are now being attacked for other reasons enrages me and makes me want to teach the assailants a lesson. While Asian Americans might have different cultures and traditions from others, we are still human. We deserve some level of respect, and I will not stand down from any threats I might receive. I will work to free Asian Americans from this undeserved hate.
Nevertheless, I find that I am able to enjoy and celebrate my heritage without fear. My favorite Asian tradition is Chinese New Year because I receive a red envelope! I have saved all of my money thus far, and I plan to save it in a bank account to accrue interest so that I have more later on to make a difference in the world. While Asian heritage has been the target of hate throughout history, I understand that my heritage makes me unique. Not everyone can say they have relatives in Taiwan, and not all Americans have strong reasons to travel to Asia. I travel to Taiwan occasionally to visit relatives, and I return after having satisfied my need for delicious Asian cuisine, such as at Ding Tai Fung and Shin Yeh, and my desire for Asian products, such as wonderful figurines, modeling kits, and specific DVDs and books. I enjoy visiting the three SOGO stores, Carrefour, the Taipei Zoo, the National Palace Museum, the Taipei Story House, the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, and many other places. Many of the fun and informative anecdotes and stories I have heard are either Asian or have Asian origins. Asian representation in the media has also been growing in the past few years, which inspires me because it makes me feel like I can be better heard. I grew up with films like Mulan, Kung Fu Panda, and My Neighbor Totoro. Film companies have taken the time and effort to research time periods and different cultures in order to produce masterpieces that are very accurate in terms of architecture, art, language, behavior, and much more. Being Asian allows me to better be able to catch subtle references to specific cultural aspects that might go unnoticed by other people. I learned Mandarin Chinese from a young age, so I can understand and speak it fluently. I do not need subtitles for Chinese films, and I can watch Japanese anime and films, like Studio Ghibli productions, in Chinese, which is closer to the original Japanese versions than the English dubbed versions. There is a whole other world and perspective open to me because of my heritage and cultural understanding.
While others might seek to instill fear in us, we, as Asian Americans, must stand up to them and show them our strength. We will continue to embrace our legacies and demand what we deserve: acknowledgement and respect. I will always be proud of who I am, and all other Asian Americans should be proud of themselves as well.


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