First-hand experience of an Asian American

First-hand experience of an Asian American

My name is Young Min Miller. I’m half Japanese, half Puerto Rican. Everyone knows Japan for their culture, the anime, and the manga that many students at Parkdale love to read. Not everyone knows the experiences of the actual Asian peers that they coexist with. I had a very unique high school career, and being in the 1% of the 1% in the demographics of the school, I faced certain triumphs and challenges being Asian. 

On one hand, it did gain some preferential treatment from some teachers, which was somewhat nice. Some definitely viewed me differently, and it was usually positive. On the other hand, being Asian was a little dangerous during culture day. I came in a traditional kimono, and everything was great, until a group of guys tripped me down the annex stairs, and called me a dirty Chinese (at least get it right…) 

Being Asian also did spark some backlash during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the few days before the announcement that PGCPS would be shutting down their schools, there was constant harassment. ¨Don´t go near him, he gave us the virus¨, and phrases such as ¨dirty ch*nk¨ were common. These were not one time occurrences either. My friend who is Korean even had hand sanitizer thrown at her. 

Large amount of anti-Asian rhetoric was spewed. Although I’m not the most sensitive person, it was still quite alarming to see the mentality that some members of our student body had. 

If you are being harassed like this because of your race, and you aren’t comfortable with what is being said, I’d recommend you stand up to people like this, because it increases your confidence, and prepares you for the world. 

Even during the pandemic, this rhetoric was not stopped, and it was genuinely concerning the mentality that people had toward Asian people. We were either fetishized or ridiculed, no in between. No seeing the human. 

However, after the pandemic has mainly blown over, it seems that people have become more open minded.

I came into my senior year ready to take it on and have a great last year of high school. 

With that said, there is one experience that I must highlight.

When my experience with the Kimono in freshman came full circle, it was glorious. For spirit week, there is usually a day where culture is highlighted. This was my chance. Of course in freshman year there were some who appreciated the kimono, but there was also the difficult racist experience.

This time, I told myself I would really make a statement. As I entered the lunchroom, multiple students gathered around the stage, with large speakers in the front. I knew exactly what had to be done. I talked with the SGA officers, and they were indeed doing what I thought they were doing: a fashion show to celebrate the different cultures represented.

With an enthusiastic cry from our favorite office Debbie Price, with her screaming ¨JAPANNNN!¨ as loud as she could in the microphone. I ran out in the middle of the cafeteria, with the song Tokyo Drift blasting in the speakers as I jumped around with the crowd hyping me up. 

I felt like the main character in an anime, and the crowd cheered as I ran off in the middle of the cafeteria with my kimono on. Some would call it dorky, I call it being proud of your unique culture. Corny or not, it was an empowering experience. 

And that’s what you call, being unapologetically Asian.