Thoughts from Lauren about being Asian…….

by Lauren Townsend for The Aha! Connection
reposted from the 5/30/21 The Aha! Connection Facebook page
 
On the final days of AAPI Heritage Month, I am inspired by my mother telling her story for her volunteer organization. I am half Japanese and my mother was born in Japan before she and my grandmother immigrated to Texas.
 
I was naively unaware that I was different until 6th grade. A girl at my lunch table wore a shirt that said, “Made in the USA, not Japan.” When someone asked her about the shirt, she said that she hated Japan and how they made a bunch of cheap junk and then pulled her eyes back and did a whole ching, chong thing. It was the only time I ever cried at school. I can look back now and know that this girl was only spouting off what someone in her family had taught her.
I grew up in a community similar to Dunwoody. Minorities were indeed the minority and I learned in 6th grade that I would always look different. It was no one’s fault, but the jokes about being Asian were acceptable, indifferent racism making the suffering confusing. Standing up for how it made me feel would only expand the gap between them and me, into a chasm. The words and actions that you say in front of your children are heard, even the ones you don’t want them to. Even when you whisper.
 
It took becoming a mother to learn to be proud and embrace my Japanese roots. I love that my mom and I get to share our culture with my kids with pride. I love that when two boys in my daughter’s 2nd-grade class made slant eyes and started making fun of Asians, she wasn’t afraid to tell them how it made her feel and stand up for herself.
AAPI Heritage month comes to a close in a year that has seen more anti-Asian violence than any other here in America. Asians helped build this country as cheap labor since the mid-1800s. When the Congressional Exclusionary Act was passed, it restricted the immigration of people based on race, specifically Chinese. Asians have been separated physically through internment camps and segregation and more intangibly through stereotypes. I’m not trying to change the world with this post but would like for you to take a breathe before you say something out loud. That’s all and just love us like you love our food. ❤ LT

Contact:

lauren@theahaconnection.com

5 thoughts on “Thoughts from Lauren about being Asian…….

  1. Lauren,

    Lauren, so brave of you to discuss the childhood trauma caused by bullying. I always wondered where other children learned to hate and bully. I wrongly believed it came from their parents until I attended some churches here in the South. Growing up Jewish in the Northeast, I did not experience any antisemitism. Then I moved south and attended churches with my inlaws. I attended church Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Unitarian churches with my friends in the Northeast and never heard a minister or priest belittle another religion, race or nationality. I attended church in the south and could not believe the hatred and antisemitism the leaders of the churches were preaching. Of course, they were not aware that a Jewish individual was part of the congregation. When I spoke with one of the ministers of a local church, he told me that he turned down the Jewish rhetoric (hate) because he knew some congregants had Jewish spouses.

  2. Lauren , I am sorry you had to go through these trying times. Not everyone is that narrow minded. I know many who embrace diversity. I grew up in Colombia and here in the US too & when I heard snotty remarks @Colombia , I had my ammunition ( words) ready to fire back. You are great & unique just as you are & I love all your posts! You are the best!

  3. Excellent writing. Please keep enlightening those who don’t understand how hurtful their words and actions can be! Thank you!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. We all need to embrace our differences with kindness and respect. We gain so much more from each other.

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