AN: I wrote this for my AP English class. It's all written in 2nd person point of view, and the assignment was to write a "How to be" paper on something that you are with lots of personal experience and at least one shift in tone. So since I figured I should probably post something on fp, I chose this essay 'cause it was kinda humorous.
Read and tell me what you think! Criticisms welcome. I always like to know how I can improve my writing. Oh and in case you wondering, I got an A on this haha.
How to Be an Asian American
First, be conceived by two Chinese parents. You have the black hair, small almond-shaped eyes, and creaseless eyelids characteristic of people of Asian descent.
Speak Chinese fluently during your early years, but later on, after learning English, lose the fluency. Nowadays you answer in English, much to the annoyance and chagrin of your parents.
Mom calls you to dinner. It's the usual: rice, meat/fish, more rice, vegetables, (did you mention rice yet?) and soup. Pick up your chopsticks and dig in. Be thankful that Asians are gifted with the ability to use chopsticks at birth.
Since your parents went through all that hard work and dedication to arrive in America, be expected to work just as hard and pay just as much attention to academics. Academic success is simply imperative. Pretty soon, after being influenced by your parents' way of thinking, you start dreaming of getting into an Ivy League. This becomes the principal goal to fulfill. Though acceptance into one of these prestigious schools is limited, set your heart on going to one of the nation's best schools, and accordingly plan high school career.
Being a minority naturally causes people of the same minority to band together. This is true of Asians. Your parents know almost every Chinese family in your small town after only living here for two years. Back in St. Louis, you belonged to a Chinese Christian church. Maybe it's because people want to speak their native language to people with the same culture. Maybe it's because they are going through the exact same problems, like learning English. Maybe that is why you always find yourself immediately gravitating towards the Asians when in a new social setting. Maybe that is why you seem to bond easily with other Asians. Who knows? It is just one of life's mysteries.
Asian parents wills always compare you to their friends' children. Dad will say, "Yao's daughter got a 35 on the ACT!" or Mom will say, "Lin's son got a scholarship to Harvard!" These remarks are intended to cause you to study harder to achieve the same result. Think to yourself, "Good for them. I don't care." Nevertheless, smile and nod, and say, "I'm going to go prepare for the SAT." Secretly curl up in bed to read another novel.
Go to chemistry class. It's a lab day. Your lab partner is most likely going to copy down all the answers because apparently "All Asians are smart." Turn on the gas to the Bunsen burner. Keep turning the knob to adjust flame. Suddenly, the whole Bunsen burner is on fire.
Stare at it in shock, until your friend calls out, "Um…fire! There's a fire!" Everyone turns to look, and the teacher calls out, "Turn off the gas!" The fire immediately extinguishes itself.
By this time, your friend is laughing uncontrollably and eventually you join in. Your friend Matt says, "Nice one, Asian." Go back to the lab station and finish recording temperatures. Realize that the data is wrong because you did not take the cover off of the thermometer. Feel stupid, but secretly you're pleased, because now people will stop assuming you are perfect at everything, which you most definitely are not.
An acquaintance comes up and sees another Asian nearby. She immediately asks you, "Are you two related?" This annoys you to no end. Do you ask every blond person if he or she is related to your blond friend? Didn't think so.
Consider how Chinese restaurants are so "Americanized." Roll eyes at the fact that most Americans do not even realize that fortune cookies are an American invention, or how dishes like "Orange Chicken" are never cooked in a Chinese person's home, much less served in a real Chinese restaurant. Realize that most dishes offered in America's Chinese restaurants cannot be found in a meal served in a Chinese household. Sigh. It's not really your business to reveal this to unsuspecting Americans anyway.
Someone asks you, "Do you ever hear racial slurs?"
Reflect back towards that day on the bus as a seventh grader. A girl brings her friend home with her and they start talking innocently enough. Suddenly, the girl's friend starts talking about how she went to her neighbor's house (who happens to be one of your best friends and is also Chinese) and comments that her house "smelled weird" and other derogatory remarks about the Chinese decorations in her home and Chinese customs. She cuts off abruptly after her friend whispers to her. She replies, "Oh my gosh! I had no idea she was on this bus! I feel so bad!"
You know immediately that she is talking about you and say in your head, "Sure you do, (insert offensive word here)."
Debate on whether or not you should say something to her and put her in her place. Decide against it and let it go. Walk past her and off the bus without a second glance. However, your brain does not forget this incident that easily.
Try to dismiss this memory by remembering the annoying lyrics that your friend Maren is constantly singing: "Everyone's a little bit racist sometimes/Doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes/Look around and you will find/No one's really color blind/Maybe it's a fact we all should face/Everyone makes judgments based on race."
Think about the lyrics, and admit that they are somewhat truthful. Sadly, the color of someone's skin is the first thing people look at; you even do it too, albeit unconsciously. You will always be known as the Asian girl wherever you go (not counting Asia, of course).
Dad is shouting at you. Realize you were pondering over this while driving and jerk back to reality. Find that you are drifting over to the opposite lane. Red colors your cheeks. Switch over to the correct lane. Dad immediately jumps into a lecture about your inattentiveness while driving and how dangerous that is. Start tuning him out after the first couple of sentences.
Narrowly avoid hitting the car you park next to. Smile sheepishly.
No one ever said Asians were good drivers.
AN 2: Btw that fire incident is totally true hahaha. xD That was like the only interesting day in chemistry. Gah I hated that class.
That ending was kinda random. But oh well, I kinda like it. Hope you liked it! =]