I was watching some Youtube videos and as you may know I only watch 3 channels, because I haven’t found people I connect with. To be fair, I don’t go looking for channels and Youtubers to like. I just stick to what I like and watch DIY’s and music videos besides the 3 channels. While watching Youtube videos, I came across Jenn Imm’s “Asian American Tag” and when watching I found that I could relate to everything she talked about. In the end of her video she nominated everyone no matter your ethnicity to do the tag, so here we are. You can watch Jenn’s video here and she was nominated by the creator and you can watch their video here. I nominate all of you to change the ethnicity and race to your own and answer all of these questions. Please tag me so we can keep this going!
Which ethnicity are you?
I am half Thai and half White.
Which generation are you?
I am second generation.
What is the first experience where you felt that demarcation of being a minority/different?
My first experience was when I had first moved away from the Bay Area to the Central Valley and during my birthday my mom and stepfather went to my second grade class with cupcakes and food and people started asking my parents questions about where I’m from and that’s when I felt the most different. There were hardly any Asians in my elementary school. There was 4 including me, but I only ever saw 2 most of the time. It was weird not having anyone else look like me and connect with me in that way. My classmates weren’t rude they were just curious, but it made me feel different and embarrassed because I wasn’t expecting my parents to put on a show for my class. My parents even brought one of my traditional Thai dresses which was and still is very personal to me. I didn’t think it would show and tell about me to my class.
The second time which was more major was when my father came to my elementary school (same school from the story above) in third grade and talked to my teacher about how I was doing academically because he wanted me to go to a private school. My father is White, and everyone thought my stepfather was my father. So having to explain that all the time got old fast. After my dad visited, my classmates always brought it up and told me “You’re not White” and among other things with the same message. I loved my dad and my parents were still going through a divorce so it was a hard time to adjust.
Were you always proud of your heritage or was there a time you rejected it?
I was always proud of my heritage despite the bullying and not having many Asian friends to connect with. The times I felt rejected were when I saw a group of Asian kids or teens together and seeing how easily they got along. I haven’t experienced much of that and still want that. I don’t know I feel like I don’t “look as Asian” making other Asians not accept me. For EVERY single instance in the past I’ve had with other Asians I have ALWAYS had to say I’m Asian too, because it’s not obvious and it always ALWAYS comes as a shock to them. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t treated the same because it’s not obvious to others that I am half Thai.
What are some stereotypes that you struggle with?
I struggle with being considered the smartest. My stepfather always had high standards for me and then once I reached middle school school subjects became easier and that’s when I starting setting standards for myself. Besides that I struggle with the accents and having to deal with hearing people make fun of Asian accents and how “terrible” they are. They never have been for me and I hate hearing people say that because my mom has an accent, so I get offended. I’ve been asked “What do you eat at home?” very often and I always answer with “American and Thai food whatever’s at home really.” I hate when people assume they know what “Thai food” consists of, like when people tell me “Oh well you eat a lot of vegetables huh because you’re Asian” it’s annoying and frustrating hearing people combine cultures together. Or hearing “Do you eat dog?”
Can you speak your language?
Yes! I can speak Thai and understand it pretty fluently I would say. I mean my Thai is not at a high level meaning I wouldn’t understand high class Thai which is college educated. For example, when I watch Thai news I barely understand it and it’s because of their class of the language. In Thai there’s 3 main classes, the first one being very common Thai, the second one being more educated but not high class and the third being very high class to the extent that’s how the Royal Family in Thailand speaks.
How has being Asian American affected your relationship with your parents?
Being Asian American has been a struggle because my mom isn’t from the U.S. she’s from Thailand. We grew up differently, my mom still struggles with the English language. Although she understands the cultural differences she hasn’t experienced them first hand so it’s difficult for her to understand what I’m going through. It’s really hard to talk and connect with her because she simply doesn’t understand it. For instance, I plan on going to school after my bachelor’s and my mom wouldn’t prefer it she would rather I get a job and start earning money. She doesn’t see the benefit of going and furthering my education.
How do you feel about your heritage now? Do you identify with it?
I love my heritage, but I wish I had a stronger tie to it. I can’t explain my religion because I stopped going to Thai temples once my parents separated. I plan to continue to learn about my religion and to take Thai lessons so I can read and write in Thai. I would love to study in Thailand, it has been one of my lifelong dreams! Unfortunately I’ve never had the money so it’s stayed a dream, but I plan to change that sometime in the next 5 years. Of course I identify with it, I identify with both being White and Thai it’s hard to answer when people ask me which one do I identify with more? I feel like I’m more White because I’m not as connected as I’d like to be with my culture but at the same time I know just as much about being Thai as I do about being White. Being half Thai is definitely a part of me and I’m proud of it!
What is your favorite thing about being Asian American/your heritage?
My favorite thing is the language. I love the language and being able to go to Thai restaurants to speak to other Thai people (Those are the occasions I speak Thai besides speaking to Family). I also love the people, because a lot of the people I’ve personally met including online have been very nice to me and it’s nice talking to others and connecting through our culture! They are always very kind.