in print
49
Borders
Stories about silence, exclusion, and being seen as "other" in America
Stories about silence, exclusion, and being seen as "other" in America
The Red Pill

AS PART of our public relations undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California, we were required to take a broadcast journalism class.

Pride, Shame, and Other States of Being American

MY HEART SWELLED with pride as I ran closer to the Marine Corps War Memorial. The sculpture of brave men raising the American flag on Iwo Jima, Japan was too much for my one-sided, American history-infused heart to bear.

Interrupting History
One Movie at a Time

THERE WAS A TIME when Asians weren't considered the model minority. Rather than being maneuvered to be pitted against other minority groups, the early wave of Chinese immigrants were considered a direct threat to white populations.

Silence
Echoing Through the Generations of Japanese Americans

A FEW YEARS AGO, a couple of church friends and I visited Manzanar National Historic Site on the way to a fishing trip in Mammoth, California. It wasn't your typical detour — visiting an incarceration camp that imprisoned thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Our Grandmothers are Fighting to be Heard

IF YOU'RE LIKE ME, you've watched a healthy amount of Korean drama. Korean dramas are notoriously addictive, despite their often-predictable storylines.

Deconstructing Borders
To Embrace a Vietnamese Kind of Love

"OVER THESE PAST couple of years, thinking about Ferguson and learning terms like 'white supremacy' have changed the way I interact with my parents."

"Iron Fist" and Constructing an Asian American Legacy

I REMEMBER the movie scene vividly. In a dimly lit cinema amidst a sea of white faces, a young Bruce Lee was sitting at the center of it all.

The Making of Mary Metchnek

MARY METCHNEK: tanned skin, curly dark hair, and dark eyes. Her speech is tinged with Hawaiian Pidgin intonations and a Midwestern drawl — curiously, words of an African language also easily slip off her tongue in conversation.

AS PART of our public relations undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California, we were required to take a broadcast journalism class. It was meant to provide us with more context for how broadcast journalists use sound and video to tell their stories.

But I learned a much more important lesson than how to splice together different recordings to create a cohesive packaged story for the nightly news.

Our professor was a 30-year-plus veteran of the Los Angeles broadcast scene, one who would remind us every week that he worked at one of LA's four major broadcast stations. He also had a bit of a temper.

During the second week, he told us that our first assignments were the worst he had ever seen in all of his years as an adjunct professor. No one had done better than a C.

Halfway through his yelling at each student in the class, he turned his attention to me and exclaimed, "And your work, Daniel ... is English your second language? Were you born here in America? I don't understand how you can consider yourself a journalist with such poor grammar skills."

"And your work, Daniel ... is English your second language?"

I didn't know how to respond. I bit my lip and just held it all in. I didn't dare speak back, and none of my fellow classmates said anything either. I went home that day frustrated, angry, and deeply hurt.

I was born and raised in Maryland. English was my first language. I had received national awards in high school journalism. I was here on a journalism scholarship. 

And yet, whether my professor intended it or not, his statement threatened my sense of belonging in my own homeland. It was a reminder that because of my appearance, I would never be considered a full American, but an adjective, a hyphen, an outsider. 

The problem is, I love America. I can't imagine having grown up anywhere else. But a part of understanding the complexities of Asian American identity is to dissect and challenge what it means to be American.

A part of understanding the complexities of Asian American identity is to dissect and challenge what it means to be American.

We cannot be blind to how America has not always regarded Asian Americans as one of its own. We've been mistreated, taken advantage of, and ignored in political, social, and economic contexts. And borders continue to be built and kept today. 

I regret that I never shared this story with my academic advisors at USC, while I'm sure this man's actions and outbursts continued to harm other students. I regret the many other instances where I've remained silent, regarding both myself and others.

And so, we remember. We unearth these recollections of pain, so that we engage in countering false narratives of what it means to belong. And we tell our stories.

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