As humans, our minds are naturally designed to stereotype. For example, let’s say I asked you to describe to me what you imagine a librarian would look like. An image of an old woman with glasses, a tight bun in her hair, and a constant frown on her face may have popped into your head. The generality of groups in society affects a lot of the world. I’m a full Chinese American 13-year-old, and I think that the stereotyping of Asian Americans needs to be brought more to attention.

My first run-in with the generality of Asians that I can remember clearly was in 2nd grade. It was time for lunch, and as usual, I rushed with my group of friends to the cafeteria after a long period of math, excited for a break. I unpacked the carefully prepared lunch that my mother had made for me. All the students sitting around the round cafeteria table also unpacked their lunches, a mix of grocery store Lunchables, and varying cold sandwiches with different toppings. A girl from another table walked up to me, sniffing the air and wrinkling her nose in disgust.

“What is that?” She questioned, with a look of horror on her face.

I looked down at my food, unable to pinpoint what exactly it was that was not normal about my meal.

I looked back at her, “What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“It stinks. And it looks disgusting.” She answered nasally, due to the way she was pinching her nose shut.

“Oh! Well these are ribs, and they’re called ‘pai gu’ in Chinese-” I began to explain.

“Don’t Asians eat dogs though?” She cut me off, as the whole table around me burst into laughter.

As you might tell, my first run-in with stereotypes was a bad experience, to say the least. I remember feeling humiliated, and ashamed of my own culture. As soon as I got home that day, I begged my mother to let me purchase the school lunch instead of having a home-cooked thermos meal. I can’t imagine the hurt she must have felt. She woke up early in the morning just to prepare a meal for me. Eventually, she did end up letting me buy school lunches as an alternative. As for the girl, she was young and uneducated as a second-grader. However, I do think that we should be educating our children better about other foreign cultures and religions.

Kung-flu or Chinese virus, these terms are nicknames given to the current worldwide issue, the novel coronavirus pandemic. I remember being in the car, on the way to dance practice when my mom turned off the stereo.

“You need to be more careful when you’re out alone these days.” She said,

Confused, I replied, “Why?” to which she responded, “prejudice against Asians, there are way too many hate crimes because of the virus.”

On the TV, there were 3 hate crimes against Asians that night alone on the news. I was astounded. I hadn’t realized that there were people in the world who would hurt someone over what was happening. My world was flipped upside down that day as the curtain of my past views was lifted.

Another memory that I have of coronavirus stereotypes was in February of 2020. I was going shoe shopping with my father because I had grown out of my old shoes and needed some new ones. The CDC still hadn’t had a mask regulation in my state yet at this point, so we both entered the store without masks. The pandemic wasn’t as serious as it is now. As I rounded a corner in the store, I saw a man staring at me. We made eye contact and I watched as he immediately pulled the neck of his shirt up over his nose. I stared at him in shock as he quickly rushed away from me, walking to the other side of the shoe shop. I felt slightly offended and confused, and I remember feeling dirty or poisoned. He had practically run away from me as if I was the embodiment of coronavirus.

The misconception that “all Asians are smart, or good at math” has a thought process that I can best compare to the phrase “All that glitters isn’t always gold”. Although many may think that being portrayed as the “smarter” student, or as the “best” at a certain subject, this specific stereotype has caused many other problems in the Asian American community. For example, you may have heard of college admission discrimination again Asian students. This isn’t a new idea, people have been writing news reports and articles about it since at least 2016. These are just some of the ways Asian stereotypes affect important parts of our lives.

Based on my own and others experiences, as well as cases broadcasted on the news, I am very grateful that this month is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I am grateful to be able to share my own experiences with others in hopes that maybe people of different races may be able to see inside of the life of an Asian American. I hope that small contributions to a large cause will help the world see past stereotypes and prejudices. I hope that the world becomes a more educated place and that newer generations will be more compassionate and willing to learn about other cultures. I hope to make an impact on the world, even if it is a small one.

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