By: Juliana Clark
Within the past decade, the involvement of technology in people’s daily lives has become ever more present. Many people are seen glued to their screens reading news, posting on social media, and swiping on dating profiles. While the rapidly increasing presence of technology has created a positive effect in the lives of people, it has also limited the way in which people interact with one another. It has led to a decrease in real-life interaction and an increase in the judgment of a person or object based off limited information.
Whether I present myself in public or on social media there is one thing that is apparent and it is usually the first thing people pick up on: I am Asian. This is where the interest stops and judgement starts. The act of judging others has become a reflex among people as information about a person is fed in limited quantities through social media. This makes people less willing to listen or learn and more quick to judge and generate assumptions.
People see that I am Asian but have no interest to ask where I am from. Instead, they place me in a box filled with their own assumptions and go from there. The truth is, I don’t just fit into one box. I cannot be categorized into the “Asian/Pacific Islander” checkbox when asked about my race on a form. I am so much more than my appearance. I am my experiences too.
I was adopted from Shaanxi Province in China when I was almost a year old. I was given the name Lin Tian Tian (林 甜 甜) by the orphanage, which means sweet sweet forest and it will always have a special place within my identity. That’s another thing that a person wouldn’t be able to tell just looking at my social media profile. I’ve noticed that people who have never seen me assume I am just American and then people that see me and don’t know my name are surprised when I tell them my American name. Like no sorry, not every Asian has what you would think would be an “Asian name” whatever that may entail.
Growing up in New York City I had a nice, relatively carefree childhood. However, that did not distract me from the feeling of loss that always lingered closely by. I was constantly reminded of what set me apart from other families as I encountered the stares of people as they saw me walking down the street with my mother who did not resemble me. Those stares turned into hushed comments which eventually turned into bullying.
I encountered a fair amount of bullying in my middle school days for the way I looked and my high grades. After middle school, I thought the bullying was over. Turns out, it was just coated in a new term I would learn called microaggressions. I realized that the use of microaggressions and stereotyping wouldn’t be able to be solved by talking to an adult mainly because (in my case) it was the adults who were the perpetrators. Unfortunately, microaggressions can be so hidden in conversations that they’re easier to just ignore rather than confront it and risk a conflict.
I remember feeling relieved when I was able to talk to other minorities and found out that I was not alone in being a victim of this disguised form of harassment. It felt therapeutic to share my experiences with others and relate to theirs. For once, I didn’t feel so different and out of place.
Over the years, I have grown to embrace and accept my identity more and more. I’ve discovered the value and importance of connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences which have made me better able to handle my own. I am aware that micro-aggressions are not something that are going to disappear anytime soon so I am dedicated to work hard to educate people about how their generalizations can be harmful. With technology being so prevalent in our lives, hate can be spread quicker than ever. This is why it is so important to speak up and teach the world to love and accept rather than judge and hate.
Juliana Clark currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is studying International Development at the University of Guelph in Canada. Juliana is a member of the Adoptee Board for the organization Families with Children from China (FCCNY). In her spare time, she loves to get involved in events promoting social justice issues.
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