Skip to main content

Evie's Double Whammy and Why I'm Speaking Up About Anti-Asian Racism

My first memory of really recognizing I was different was in 4th grade in a mostly white town.  I was riding a different school bus with my friend to go to her house.  A boy (whose name I will always remember) started chanting "Ching chong, wah wah..." over and over again throughout the bus ride.  I ignored him. I had no power on this bus. I was stunned that a boy I didn't know would tease me like that. I went home and told my parents, and my dad joked about it, saying next time I should tell him he speaks "Gobble Gobble." We all laughed, and laughing was what I needed that night.  I tucked it away in my memory, but I knew that the incident had bothered me.  My mom found out another time that I was being teased, and she took action and initiated what became a cultural immersion day in my elementary school. 

In middle school, a girl in my class made sure I understood I didn't belong at her table, motioning to all the other girls at the table and announcing that only those she named belonged there. She named everyone but me.  Another girl told my best friend that she couldn't be friends with her if my friend stayed friends with me. My wonderful best friend chose me. I wondered for a long time what I had done wrong to make this girl dislike me so much. I saw those as annoying middle school trials back then, but looking back, I was already experiencing exclusion because I looked different.  One could say I don't know that, but after experiencing a pattern, you just know. 

In high school, we moved to a new town, and my first day in math class, a boy patted the empty desk next to him and said, "Sit here, you look smart."  I smiled, but I felt uncomfortable with his assumption. And I got a B+, not an A (so there!!).  I was a well-behaved, responsible girl who played the violin and piano, and got good grades--mostly.  I joined the school chorus, and found a community of friends who embraced me and made me feel like I belonged. 

After going to college, there were other Asians, and I was suddenly one of many. I had actually developed a disdain for Asian-ness somehow, and went through a journey of accepting my Taiwanese-American identity and making Asian friends.  I didn't completely fit with my Taiwanese extended family (often being introduced as an "ABC (American-Born Chinese)", but I didn't completely fit with my white friends either. At college, I met other Asian-Americans who had similar backgrounds, and I felt like I could be comfortable in my own skin.*  

Recently, I shared with some people about being the only one in an airplane exit row who was asked if I spoke English. Instead of listening to me and really hearing what I was saying, a non-Asian person in the conversation chose to question my experience about whether it was really a microaggression.  They started talking about airplane protocols and basically minimizing and second-guessing my experience.  They weren't listening. I was the only one who looked Asian in that row. There could have been European travelers in that row who didn't speak English. That moment passed as quickly as it occurred. But I was shocked by how angry it made me. That is the general experience of Asians in America--minimization and invisibility.  We are taught to keep our heads down, don't make waves, and just work hard, so that we don't stick out.  We justify microaggressions against us in our heads, so that we don't need to feel bad about them. 

Did I say anything in any of these situations? No.  I was usually taken aback and speechless, and wanted to keep the peace. But no more, especially as our most helpless, the elderly, are being targeted across America, with violent acts against Asians 150% higher in incidence than previous years.  Asians of all ages in their daily lives are being harassed more than ever before, in broad daylight. It doesn't matter what type of Asian, or whether we were born in America. It is a pervasive problem that has touched every Asian in some way. 

And now I have a daughter who is Asian and who has noticeable disabilities. That could be a double whammy. People immediately notice that she has Down Syndrome. She is different to them. 

But I am teaching her that she is worthy, and I am teaching the world that she is worthy (cue our Youtube channel). She is a star. She is a child of God. She is not invisible. And when someone wrongs her, she will have the voice to speak up and say, 

"Hey! That is not how I want to be treated. I deserve better." 

She is not weak. She is the bravest child I know.  She has more joy in her pinky than most people have altogether. While she is learning, I will speak up for her. 

And so I have been telling my story, in support of my Asian community, and in support of all human beings who are marginalized, minimized and underestimated.  Just like Evie, we are all more alike than different.  

Let's work together to appreciate our differences. Our children's stories can be different. And to my non-Asian friends who want to join us in this work, please speak up and amplify our voices with us.** You can truly make a difference, just by saying, "Did you hear what Evie said? She has a great idea" or "I think you meant to respond another way, so that you're acknowledging what Evie is saying about her feelings."  Teach your children to celebrate differences.***   

I am thankful for our friends (both Asian and not Asian) who have checked in on us or have already spoken up to say that this work to combat racism is important and that we are seen and valued. It means we have hope for a better and safer world. 

Be Well,
Evie's Mommy

*One great free resource for Bystander Intervention Training:

**Many of my closest friends have not been Asian, but they celebrate my heritage and everything else that makes me who I am.  I am thankful for their friendship and hope Evie has such wonderful friends too!

***A great book about celebrating differences is "You Are Enough" by Margaret O'Hair, and inspired by Sofia Sanchez, a little girl with Down Syndrome.  

Amazon link: You Are Enough


Popular posts from this blog

Repost with a giveaway! From Straitjacket to Starfish: A Shark Tank win

Update:   Hi all, I am doing my first giveaway! If you read my blog post the other day on the miraculous Zipadee Zip, then you know how this thing has changed our lives as parents.  The makers of Zipadee Zip liked my review so much, that they offered to help me do a giveaway. All you have to do is 1) "Like" their Zipadee Zip Facebook page and 2) leave a comment about why you could use a free Zipadee Zip on this post! The contest begins Wednesday, May 27 at 12:00 AM and ends on Sunday, May 31 at 12:00 AM.  Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway  ------------------------------------------------------------ Original post: There was a point in time when I was just proud I could swaddle teeny tiny Evie with a hospital blanket. Then she came home and started busting out of the blankets, and woke herself up all the time. Her arms flailed and her legs kicked while she was sleeping, which of course woke her up. But then she got bigger and craftier, and I needed to fin

Going public: Down Syndrome Awareness Day and what it means to us.

Starting this blog was a big deal for me. It's hard to throw out there in conversation that my baby girl has Down Syndrome, because that extra chromosome makes people view her differently. But because it is Down Syndrome Awareness Day on 3/21, I'm going public. Do you know why it's on the 21st?  Because of the 21st chromosome having an extra copy! So far, Evie has just been our beautiful baby girl who is learning to smile and reach for things. But as she grows older, I want our extended circle of friends to know, so that they can treat her as a typical little girl who may be a little delayed in her development, but will want to be included just like other kids.  I want the other kids to play with her and to learn that little girls with disabilities like to have fun too. Our story about our diagnosis is here .   Now that we've met Evie and know what we're dealing with, it's not SO scary as it was before.  Still overwhelming sometimes , but I wouldn'

Jumping and Friendship Crafts with Evie

This Youtube video was at first made to showcase Evie's first real jump on a trampoline. Then it became a video with a message about making new friends, because I was just so impressed with how Qole gave Evie the space she needed to feel comfortable enough to say yes to getting on the trampoline.   And then as we were making a paper craft about friendship, and we were pulling out different pieces of color, I was struck with how it became a teaching moment for my daughter that people of all colors can hold hands and can look out for each other. May it be so. The world needs it now more than ever.