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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3 Responses to "I speak better English than you."
  1. barry irving says:

    …You are holding up your front for family and personal reasons. You are Asian…Genetics don’t lie. Officially you are Asian American from my belief. White is a trick way to identify yourself because you are going between the lines and quoting principle and lifestyle or culture. I have no problem with that, but to say that you are White is kindd of ridiculous because White is neither a real nationality or an ethnicity. It is a color caste Racial term that assumes superiority based on color…which is Racist. The term came from the Idea of White Power and White Supremacy pushed by the majority population. This country imprisoned Asians in concentration camps at one time…White people did that!

    …Every one knows that you’re Asian because as I said , Genetics don’t lie, but you can call yourself what ever you want except in the official racial categories where you will obviously fail with that. I understand that you are grateful to your adoptive parents, but why associate yourself with centuries of Racial Baggage that you people are not responsible for?

    • BJ Rivera says:

      she’s not saying she’s white

      • barry irving says:

        …neither am I…read deeper…she is denying her Asian being. The problem with identifying with terms like Caucasian and White is that people don’t distinguish the root of their point. Like nationality, ethnicity, race…different terms that are related…still different.

        …Caucasian doesn’t mean White either…it refers to facial and body type. Africans and Indians from India are Caucasian as are Native Americans.

        …White is not a Race…it is a Social / Racial Construct…You can be Nordic…English…Irish…some very white people. Or you can pass for white…that’s a mixed group, not a Race.

        ..people are curious and sometimes ignorantly so, but the question has to come up often because “where you from” is typical among people of any nationality…so answer it or not!

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