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Growing up as an ethnic minority

The expectations that come along for the long ride

By Just DanielPublished 4 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Growing up as an ethnic minority
Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Hi! My name is Daniel as you might have surmised from my username. I am a third generation Chinese American on my father's side of the family and a second generation Chinese American according to my mother's side of the family. Growing up as a kid in the 90s (yes, in the 20th century, not the 21st, man I'm old), I thought I was just like anyone else. I would go to the park with friends and classmates and neighborhood kids, I would go to swimming lessons over the summer to learn how to swim aka performing well enough in the sport so that I was not actively drowning in the deep end of the pool. I would play with Beyblades, the spinning metal tops of doom that I believe were eventually banned from most elementary schools across the nation because of the shrapnel and carnage of metal and plastic pieces coming off of these "toys" and causing injuries to the wide-eyed spectators that were gathered around them. I celebrated the 4th of July or July 4th or Independence Day for the international fans of the United States Of America from abroad. I also celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the Mid-Autumn Festival (Ooh, fancy name for a holiday!). So yes, I was truly an American kid and still am at heart besides doing a few things that seemed odd to my classmates and peers that as time progressed, made me self-aware and start to doubt myself and everything around me.

Honestly though, up until this point, ninety-nine percent of everything that I have just described to you would have been the generic childhood of anyone living in the United States and grew up during the 90s. However, perhaps it was because of all the events that happened around us, the events that happened beforehand and the events that are happening now that has left my generation, the generation of millenials, depressed with black bags underneath our eyes that are darker than the darkest man-made substance on earth or the darkest charcoal ever mined, traumatized and waiting for tomorrow to end. Yes, tomorrow. I forgot to mention that we have anxiety sprinkled into our genetic formula somewhere.

Back to the point however, and this is an area I'm not too sure everyone will relate to but my sister and I were basically raised by my grandparents since we were very young and up until highschool, basically until the beginning of adulthood. This was probably the biggest culture difference that I noticed that was different between myself and my classmate friends. Most of them would have their parents driving them to school or picking them up from the bus stop, but for me and my sister, our grandparents and in particular our maternal grandmother was in charge of this task and it was just different. Everyone's parents seemed and looked so young, most of them only in their late 30s and early 40s when I was in elementary school and seeing everyone else's parents just made me feel, well, different.

Most importantly though is ah yes, of course, the food. Many a times, I would bring "interesting" food to class as part of my lunch because well, my family just didn't believe that I should be allowed to buy food everyday at school and well, ever apart from the rare occasions where I actually got a little money saved up and asked my parents in advance. However one such item that I brought to school before was a black sesame roll, which in today's day and age more people know about and might even know that it is a delicacy, a nice cool dessert, but back then when I was a kid, it was just a thing that kids flopped around and played with with their fingers and some even ended up not in people's stomachs.

There are many things that are different between being an ethnic minority than being part of the majority. There are times where you try your best to blend in but there are often some things that try as you might, will never be overcome according to specific and situational circumstances. Getting along and being with the right people makes up for this. An environment of learning, genuine interest, and intrigue can go a long way. Exploring different cultures, different cuisines, partaking in holidays and traditions, are all ways that people can find ways to learn about and be immersed in another's culture. It isn't easy living as an ethnic minority with expectations and stereotypes of how one should act. I would also say generally that there is an increased pressure, especially when you are the child of immigrants, to perform better, to be the very best of your peers. Any less and you will not be their equal, you will never be their equal.


About the Creator

Just Daniel

I write short fiction when I have time. There are also elements of my life interwoven with fantasy that I incorporated into my writing. I also like the unknown, so enter into the dark, true, and mysterious if you dare...

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Joe Patterson4 months ago

    Great story. We’d definitely like to know more about you. Love the beyblade reference, im a 90’s baby who grew up with them as well.

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