By Rosanna Zhao, III Form
A is NOT for Asian
What did you get on that test? How did you do on the essay? What’s your average right now?
A for Asian. An A on that test, an A on the essay, and of course, an A for my average. The world accepts nothing less. It has been set into our heads through generations that every single Asian around receives a perfect grade automatically. Displayed through short videos, television shows, books and movies, the “smart Asian” has become one of the most stereotypical stereotypes there is. I am bound between that definition of being an Asian. There was no time where the realization snapped into me – it had always been a looming shadow that followed wherever I went. There were high expectations set for me since the beginning, and as I grew older, those voices of expectations that I heard became the ones echoing in the back of my head.
At school, I would try my absolute best in order to not disappoint myself – not my friends, my teachers, or even my parents. Within the eventful schedule of St. Mark’s, I carve out time for online classes and extra tutoring. Sunday’s not just a day for church, but an opportunity for an hour of SAT and two hours of math. Study hall is no longer for the school homework which I already finished during my co-curricular periods, but time for a Skype session with my teacher in Korea. Free period? I have never even heard that term before. Even my summers are just more classes in the heat. I was not forced to do all of this, but I chose them myself. At the end of all this studying, I receive an A on that test, an A on the essay, and an A for my average. But people do not see all of this. All they see is the A, so they say, “Oh, she’s the Asian.” A for Asian, remember?
But I am not defined by just one word. I know the color of my own hair and the color of my own skin but I do not allow them to them consume me. I do not endeavor to be smart just for the world’s judgmental voices, but instead for my own aspirations and dreams. After all, being smart is not a negative thing. All I can do is to remind the world that being an Asian doesn’t make me automatically smart – they are two separate sentences. I am an Asian. I do everything that I can to be smart.
Sometimes, they are entirely different paragraphs. There are days when I do not feel smart, yet I am still an Asian. When I look through the textbooks of a student in BC Calculus, I do not instantly understand everything because of my race. In fact, I do not understand anything in that textbook at all, but I am still my race. Sometimes, a person comes along and sees me for my knowledge instead of the color of my eyes and my hair. They acknowledge me for working hard to earn what I get. They understand that there is no correlation between my race and my grades.
At certain times, I am on a completely separate paper from the two paragraphs. I am the person who enjoys helping her friends, or the person who screams at every little scare. The person who laughs at the stupidest jokes, or the person who draws doodles in her free time. During those times, I am neither the smart kid nor the Asian kid.
But at the end of the day, I will be all of the papers and paragraphs and sentences and words together. I cannot just be a smart Asian, but there must be more to me. I make mistakes and I work hard, but they have nothing to do with my race. A is no longer for Asian. Asian is for Asian, and A is for A.