Growing up, there were so many things about my ethnicity that made me feel ashamed.
The fact that my parents had an accent.
The fact that my lunch looked and smelled different than my classmates.
The fact that I spoke a different language at home.
All of these things made me feel like an other, an outsider, when all I wanted was to do was blend in with the “real”, “American” kids who could afford to eat lunchables for lunch.
But one of the things I hated most about myself was my last name:
It was 6th grade. I remember the snickering in the locker room. Girls talking about my weight. Taunting me about the unshaved hair on my legs and arms. Then the multiple times the popular girls would walk up to me asking me why I was “such a hoe.” TBH, I was so innocent then that I didn’t even understand why they were comparing me to a garden tool.
It wasn’t until my parents moved our family to Union City, CA that everything changed. I remember walking into my first assembly and having a complete culture shock. Everyone had dark hair and dark eyes. They looked like me, talked like me, ate like me, and I didn’t feel like I had to explain anything. It was in high school that I finally allowed myself to embrace my Vietnamese and Chinese cultures, instead of rejecting them.
Today, I carry so much pride behind my name because I’ve fought so hard for myself. I feel bad for ever feeling ashamed of my roots. My parents escaped a war torn country in the 70s to give me and my sister an opportunity to succeed, and I wouldn’t be where I am, literally living out my dreams, without their sacrifices.
Although I wish you all a happy Lunar New Year, I’m sad that the the year had to start off the way it did. Last night, a mass shooting in Monterey Park – a predominantly Chinese neighborhood. 10 dead. 10 injured. On what’s supposed to be the happiest celebration of the year for our community. Please stay safe and tell your loved ones you love them.
Chuc Mung Nam Moi 🧧
Gung Hay Fat Choi 🎊
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