COLUMN: Awareness month educates others

November 5, 2001: President Brownell signed a proclamation making the month of November officially Asian Awareness Month at Ball State University.

November 6, 2001: During my Asian Studies class, a girl with a dye job gone wrong and a few too many Twinkies skimmed the front page of the Daily News. She interjected that she didn't understand why there was an Asian Awareness Month, or a Latino Awareness Month or an African-American Month, for that matter. She believed there should be an "American Month."

An American Month? How broad and vague could one possibly be? What the hell would she celebrate?

It has also been brought to my understanding that the girl happens to be majoring in Japanese. This boggles my mind. Why is this person in this field and in this particular class? Because it is "cool" to know another language? Because it would be "cool" to be able to go to Japan?

November 10, 2001: A man approached me at a bar, asking me what my nationality is. I have become numb to this type of questioning. I asked him what he thought it might be.

"Hawaiian?" No, but I could understand why someone may think that. Hawaiian people look quite similar to those of my ethnicity.

"Japanese? Chinese?" I don't even look remotely close to either one! The man was at a loss for words. He could not think of anything else. I began yelling about how ignorant people are, mentioning that Asia is comprised of so many different countries, yet people continue to believe that China and Japan are the only ones. A friend yanked me away before I could become more irate.

People constantly ask me if my friend Sam and I are sisters, even twins. We are not even the same ethnicity, and we look nothing alike. The only similarity we possess is our dark skin and dark hair, classic Southeast Asian traits. So we jokingly decided that we would tell people merely for entertainment, and we cannot help but smirk as people claim that they would have guessed that in the first place.

Uneducated and small-minded people such as those that I've mentioned have caused me to become somewhat of an angry Asian girl. Of course, I am used to this type of behavior and have grown accustomed to it, due to everything that I've endured throughout my whole life. After all, we live in Indiana, and only 10 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders reside in the Midwest.

However, the reason we have an Asian Awareness Month is simply that -- to make people more culturally aware and educate so people will appreciate the beauty of Asian cultures that lie behind every Asian American. Perhaps stereotypes will be able to be destroyed. It doesn't hurt to learn new things, especially something that important, since there are so few of us on this campus. It wouldn't hurt to go to one of our events. I, promise that we are not an angry Asian militia.

One of my reasons for being here is to educate and promote Asian awareness as much as I possibly could. I see myself being one of the few Asian Americans here as a blessing, because people will indeed learn something from me. So I'm not bitter. But if someone asks me if I'm Mexican or Chinese again, I think I'm going to scream.

Write to Geri at


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