A New Understanding of Identity #5

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see race immediately. I just see me, a dark-haired, brown-eyed twenty-year old. Yet I have found that other people don’t see these characteristics as just part of the way I look. Upon first meeting someone new, I am often asked about my race. “What are you?” or “where are you from?” are the typical questions. I never paid too much attention to these questions, and I always answer, “I’m American, and my mom immigrated from Taiwan.” When I reflect on these moments, I occasionally think about how the question could be perceived as rude or offensive, but I have never let it bother me.

In Flushing, there is a significantly large Asian population. But if not for their appearances, I would not think differently of the residents. For the most part, the local Asians are very similar to the general population in Manhattan, always in a hurry to where they need to go. Yet I’ve noticed that since I first came here, people ask me very often about my racial background. Sometimes, I will be approached just to be asked this question. As time passed, I became used to it. To be honest, I have grown to appreciate the question. I feel a commonality with the Asian residents. I don’t have many classes with a lot of Asians, so it feels different speaking to so many. For the first time, I am speaking a decent amount with Asian people outside of my own family. I now feel a sense of belonging, and I am glad that I could experience this during my internship.

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