I speak better English than you.

photo (1)Nicole Huber,
Colorado Springs, CO.

I am Asian American. Being an Asian American, no one clutches their purse tighter when I walk by, and no one finds it surprising that I teach at a university. But despite Asian Americans being perceived as the “model minority,” we are not seen as “real” Americans. I was adopted by a Caucasian couple when I was two weeks old, and grew up in a Caucasian family in Colorado. There is nothing Asian about me, except my appearance, of course. Nevertheless, people often ask me what nationality I am. I always reply definitively, “I’m American.” Then they ask me where I’m from, and I say Colorado. They shift uncomfortably, and then ask again. “No – I mean… originally.” The thing that gets me is that these people aren’t even familiar with any of the various Asian countries, so I don’t even know why they are asking. I could make up a country like Kerblinkistan and they would just smile and say, “Oh, how nice. You know – I had sushi for the first time on Sunday!” Perhaps the next time someone asks me, I will reply, “Haven’t you heard? All modern humans are originally from Africa.” But I usually play nice. When I finally tell them I was born in Thailand, it is usually met with a standard response: “Oh, so you’re Taiwanese.” No, I am not Taiwanese, nor am I even Thai. I’m American. And I’m pretty sure I speak better English than you do.


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