“So are you from China?”
I was at the cashier in the Gap (yes, I still shop there) in the biggest and “most diverse” city in the United States. Walking through the streets of New York City, you see people around you of all races and ethnicities—and my yellow skin definitely does not stick out at all.
Approaching the cashier, I started off with a “Happy Thanksgiving” (this was Black Friday) and a “How are you?” just to be friendly. I sympathized with him over the ridiculous hours they would be open that day, and as I was about to pull out my wallet to pay, I heard those words I dread to hear as an American.
“No,” I respond, “I’m actually from LA.” My teeth are gritted tightly and I glace over my shoulder to my friend behind me in line with an exasperated look on my face.
“Born and raised too,” I added.
The cashier nodded, gave me my receipt, and I walked off. Steaming.
As I walked away, I thought of a million things I had wished I had said or might have said if I lost my cool. Yes, sir, my ethnic background is Chinese. But no, I am not from China. No, just because I look Chinese does not mean I am from China. No, just because I can speak Chinese does not mean I am from China. No, just because I’m a visitor here in NYC does not mean I am from China.
No, sir, I am not Chinese. I am American. I’ll show you my goddamn passport if I have to.
Continue Reading →
I wrote, again, about my thoughts on being AAPI in the United States.