Things I Want To Teach People About Being Asian in America:

Disclaimer: I say all of this out of love and understanding that we’re all human, we’re all trying our best. Seriously. I may be annoyed about some things, but I’m going to talk about the things that people seem to simply be unaware of! Also, these are things that directly affect me. Maybe you can agree with some, maybe you’ll be able to have a real conversation with me if you disagree on any…react the way you’re going to react. And then maybe you’ll think of a few on your own.

  1. Asians can be Americans. If you mean to say white people, then say white people or Caucasians, or whatever. There are some who only want to be called Asian (or they are literally just not American and that’s totally fine). Some only want to be called Asian-American. Some only want to be called Americans. But the main idea is that this is very much possible because this is exactly what I am! I am both, but I am 100% of both, not 50% of each.

The main idea is, yes — we’re actually all very different, but I feel like we all have one recurring theme: feeling like we are seen as “others”. Sometimes it feels like we’re not seen for who we truly are on the inside or as humans, but seen as…hey, you’re Asian. And of course, my personality and everything that is ME is so tightly knit with the fact that I’m Asian, so when someone understands that, it’s truly amazing and comforting and wonderful.

When I watched Crazy Rich Asians, I found myself crying at the weirdest moments. It wasn’t even like anything sad was going on. I just found it so powerful that I was in a theater full of non-Asians, who laughed along with the funny parts, who were sad during the sad parts, who just viewed it all as normal. I felt like I was normal, and that was more powerful than any affirmation I could receive from myself.

People ask me all the time why this stuff matters. I don’t know if I can ever explain it in words. It matters because it allows us to be seen. It allows us to pursue things without fear that we won’t be accepted or understood (granted, being understood isn’t ever a guarantee, but it certainly is a nice feeling). People should be able to pursue amazing things in life, and people should want to do those things.

So, yes, these are things I aim to educate people on as I move through in life. I’m sure I’ll learn more as I go on, but I just want to educate people on the “otherness” that matters, such as our culture and our amazing histories.

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Jen Xu

Athletic trainer, PhD student, coffee lover. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.