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A chopstick is just a utensil. But a chopstick can trigger that uncontrollable laughter and smiles at the dinner table. When one snaps, we chuckle. When someone can’t use them properly, we giggle. When someone eats with them, we ridicule. Chopsticks are an icon of Asia. They’re an art, they’re part of history and culture. They’re a pocket-sized representation of who I am. And yet chopsticks are a barrier, a tiny Great Wall of China. They’ve become a reason to mock, bully, to single each “yellow boy” out. Chopsticks don’t just take rice to mouths, they’re not just pretty and a supply of family-fun when a child uses them wrong. They fuel the jokes that claim I don’t belong, that I should be somewhere exotic like Hong Kong, somewhere away from here playing ping pong or mahjong. Chopsticks are a reminder of who I am, and yet, when I’d visit friends for dinner and such, I’d clutch to the metal knife and fork. I’d be jealous of the bangers and mash, burgers and chips that they ate each night. Consuming “white people’s food” helped me bottle up my heritage, force in a cork and bury it in side of me, hide it away but I failed to do that. People still saw it in my eyes and my lips. They would pretend that having Asian features is an excuse to be rude. I was in a place of solitude because of the shapes of my eyes and the stereotypical belief that I was filled with knowledge of mathematics and science. That I would achieve more and flourish under pressure because of my background but with academic pressure, social pressure, my own pressure; self-inflicted pressure that I had to live up to the racist clichés, but also, be white. I propose that one of life's hardest challenges is discovering your core, whether you become a "hers" or a "his", what your dream job is; life isn't a pop quiz, there's not a tick or a grade for who you grow into. But it would seem there is a cross, attached to the back with a screw of those whose older relatives travelled across seas, whose parents have an accent and appear to be at a loss when they try to speak English but they struggle and mess up and apparently that's a reason to toss people out of the social circles that schools, colleges, work places are founded upon. Everyone has their own path to follow. I mind my own business, I walk, I wander, I wallow down my own path and yet I still get thrown off track because of other people's "wise-ness", their belief that I am inferior because I eat with a chopstick in the cafeteria.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2019

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