Throughout my internship, race has been a part of my identity that has been very apparent to me. I’ve grown up in settings that were mostly homogenous when it came to race and socioeconomic level. My school & neighborhood was dominantly White & privileged. Being an Asian American in a dominantly White setting, I was rarely exposed to my own culture. This summer as I am working in E. Harlem, NY, I once again find myself surrounded by people who are so different than I am. However, it never occurred to me that I was different than the people around me, until this Summer.
One of the first things I got to do during my internship was sit in on a Race & Racism training for the teacher’s and staff of the charter school and non profit organization. We discussed the different types of racism (internalized racism, institutionalized racism & interpersonal racism). We also participated in activities where we had to act out what we would say given certain circumstances. All of this was extremely eye opening on how sheltered I’ve been when it came to this type of conversation. It also made me realize how ignorant I’ve been when it came to my own race as well. However, one problem I had with this training was that when it came to Race, being Asian was not mentioned. This is what made me feel isolated.
There was also one instance when one of the classes were talking about who is puerto rican, who is dominican, etc. And then the teacher decided to include all of the races. When she mentioned Asian, one of the students commented “What? No one here is Asian”, but I happened to be standing right in the room. Throughout this internship, I am seeing this part of my identity as a difference from everyone else. However, I am also learning to be confident and embrace this part of my identity and my difference from the groups that I work with.