Singled out

April 6, 2021

...when people first look at me, they never think, oh, look at that American girl. Even though I am. They’ll always be like, oh, the Asian girl.

It’s very strange. I mean, like I said, my parents are so Korean and everything I did when I was younger related to my Korean culture, but because my peers and my environment weren’t very supportive of that, I went like years just completely shunning my Korean identity. And then when I tried to come back from it, I think it was very difficult for me. And my dad always emphasized this to me when I was growing up, that I'll always be Korean American, not American Korean. And he was like one, because, you know, it's in your blood. It's how we raised you to be. We know you're different from us. I was born in America. They weren’t. I grew up here. They didn’t. He just emphasized to me how important it is to stay in touch with my Korean side while, being able to be American, I guess. But on the other hand, when people first look at me, they never think, oh, look at that American girl. Even though I am. They’ll always be like, oh, the Asian girl.

Like when I interact with new people here and just out in the community, if it's not a good interaction or they seem annoyed or upset or angry, that's when I'm most aware of the fact that I'm Asian, because I just never know if it's because they're having a bad day or if it's because they don't like who I am.

And I guess one memorable experience for me happened last semester at the Clemson game. So obviously due to COVID there were very strict seating arrangements, and since it was the last game, I think a lot of people were just kind of moving around. So our row was pretty filled. And this lady came up to me and my boyfriend. Yeah, he's not White. And my other friend who’s roommates with my boyfriend, like, he's also not White. And I guess this lady was just giving us a lot of trouble. And so after a really long talk with her, she was very persistent that we can’t be standing where we were, even though those were our seats. And we tried to explain to her like we've been here the whole semester, like the people around us are the people who are moving around. But she just wasn't having it and threatened to kick us out, so we ended up moving to a completely empty section away from all our friends. And it took me a second, but I looked back at where I was sitting before and we had been the only non-White people in that entire section, and we were the only people moved. And the lady, after talking to us, left like she wasn't even talking to anyone else in the section we had been in. So I don't know. I feel like that was too big of a coincidence for it not to be something racially charged. So that kind of made me feel not great.

Lucia Cho

Lucio Cho is a senior majoring in Preprofessional Studies with a minor in Poverty Studies.