I use to live in the projects in a predominantly Black and Latino/a neighborhood in Gravesend, Brooklyn New York.
In school, I was bullied constantly because of my appearance as well as my cultural background but ultimately I became a target for bullying because I didn’t live up to the model minority expectations that Asians are suppose to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the average population.
I was told once in college that Asians are considered to be white and not a person of color and since we aren’t considered to be person of color we don’t actually face racism or discrimination because we have the “good stereotypes” working in our favor.
For years I internalized these emotions of sadness and resentment. I was embarrassed, scared and ashamed. I was embarrassed because I would speak to my grandparents in Cantonese rather than English. I was scared to fully embrace my beautiful heritage and I was ashamed to claim my identity as a Chinese American.
My self-esteem was shot to it’s core. I shut out any open opportunity to understand my cultural background. I therefore became uneducated and invisible to the outside world.
For some, 2016 was one of the best years and for others not so much. 2016 was a tough year for me. But not all 365 days were bad. In the last year or so I have learned to own up to my truth and that the first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one.
So here’s to a new year, a toast to healthier choices, extraordinary love and second chances.
Photography Credit: Kennique Reynolds