by Douglas Abrams
“I learned there is another word to describe who I am: Asian-American,” said Delia Hom, one of the six panelists that presented yesterday B-block in the little theatre as a part of Asian Culture Day. During the presentation, the six panelists spoke about their lives as Asian-Americans and their Asian-American identities.
Senior Young Guang, who moderated the panel, began the presentation with statistics about the large percent of Asian-Americans in the United States. In addition, he addressed the high percent of Asian-Americans that are bullied at school, 54 percent, which is about 20 percent higher than other ethnic groups.
After the introduction, each of the panelists described their life as Asian-Americans. The first panelist to speak, Hom, is the director of the Asian-American Center at Northeastern University.
Hom described how she was extremely confused when she was growing up because at school, she was constantly labeled and stereotyped. Additionally, Hom said that her parents did not fully understand what she was going through. The only way she felt comfortable was by connecting to other Asians in her community who understood what it felt like to be stereotyped as an Asian-American.
The panelist that presented next, Karen Young, is an artist that started a performance troupe to help build Asian community and to share Asian culture. Growing up in a bi-cultural family, Young is third generation Chinese and Japanese with a Caucasian stepfather. When she was younger, Young felt it difficult to conform to the stereotypes that people impressed upon her for being Asian, such as having to be passive.
However according to Young, as she grew older, she began to realize that the troubles she experienced growing up with racial stereotypes was a problem that many other Asians faced.
Similar to Young, Smith graduate QJ Shi, spoke about how she had trouble in high school because she felt that their was not enough focus on Asian culture and Asian history. “We were not talking about Asian-American issues, I guess that I though that my history just was not that important,” said Shi.
However, according to Shi, when she went to college she got opportunities to take classes and learn about Asian history.
Research assistant at the Public Health Advisory Institute Megan Skillman attended a high school that had two Asians: her and her sister. “I longed for a role model,” said Skillman.
Near the end of the presentation, Susan Lim, a graduate from Brandies University, talked about her experiences growing up as an Asian-American.
Lim explained her childhood growing up in Lynn. She addressed that she was afraid of being negatively influenced by the other kids around her: “So I worked by butt off and went to Brandeis.”