It was probably in my twenties when I first heard the word “chink”. What does that mean? I might have thought. Does it mean something about the pottery that I chipped?
But most likely, I probably heard it described as a racial epithet, something that shouldn’t be said. And even to this day, I have never heard it used in a derogatory term toward me. Perhaps it’s because I live in the Bay Area. And even in the short 2 years that I was in graduate school in Pittsburgh, I was still in a bubble there, surrounded by students from all over the world. But how did I never experience it when I grew up in a city where only 10% of the high school student body at the time were Asian?
And even too, whether I was oblivious or not, I never quite experienced overt sexism.
If it was the case, I always thought it was me. That it was because of my social anxiety, developed from years of trying to fit in. I don’t mean around boys—I often was simply invisible. But around girls. The curly-haired ones that pointed out differences in 6th grade. As they flounced around the playground in American brand clothing, I wore clothing that my mom picked up in Hong Kong.
It couldn’t have been race or gender, because even the Asian girls too were distant.
So I wonder now living in a world that proclaims microaggressions and demands sensitivity—do I understand at all? do I get it? Especially when I don’t worry about walking alone late at night. Especially when I am unable to even sense a flirtatious move? Especially when I have no problem being in a room full of the male gender?