Every year I have mixed feelings on July 4. I’m grateful for freedom.
I’m grateful that I live in a country where I can elect my leaders.
I’m grateful that I have the freedom to worship and pray to God.
I’m grateful for safety and security.
I’m grateful for my American education.
I’m proud to be an American.
But even though I was born in America, speak proper English, and I am a voting American citizen, I am never looked upon as fully American.
Everyday I walk around and I’m painfully aware that I’m different. That I’m not a real American. It’s not overt or systemic racism. It’s little things.
I walk into a store and start talking to an employee and they seem relieved that I speak
English. I cringed when I saw the headline “American Beats Out Kwan”.
Last year a little white girl pulled her eyes narrow when she was looking at me and my child.
“Austin” is not a satisfactory answer to “Where are you from?” Asian Americans find videos like this funny, but it’s because the pain and offense is all too familiar.
I get tired of correcting people.
I wish I didn’t have to address ignorance. Even though I’m an American, I feel shame when the Chinese government is portrayed negatively. Because I’m not seen as American. I’m a perpetual foreigner.
But it’s July 4th. And I’m free. I have freedom to teach my children values I hold. I enjoy being a homeowner. I have a great sense of autonomy.
I’m grateful for the men who died to give me freedom. I claim that as much as any American.
Yes, I’m an American. I might not ever be seen as one. I might have to keep correcting people. But I’m grateful that I’m even in the position to do so.