Studying in the same city where parents live is nearly impossible for ~69 millions of village kids in China. Being a girl in such a population is even worse because of the limited support from family and their traditional expectations on girls: Your fate is set since the day you were born, dropping out of high school, working in a manufacture, getting married and having kids at a young age. Then life repeats with how you struggle with providing your next generations better education and living conditions…From the outsiders’ view, they are cheap labor that you can exploit their uses without worrying about being sued or feeling bad.
Being a family relative to many of them, I see their struggles of settling down in the city where they work, their pain from leaving their kids in the village and their stress from supporting the entire family with little income. Yet, I did not hear many complaints or see them giving up. Instead, they are working hard towards their goals and invest all they have in their kids with hope that their kids can have a better future.
My parents are one of them who supported their kids with everything they earned by hands. As a result, I got a chance to come to the states. However all financial support my parents can provide is not even enough for one year tuition fee, so I have to graduate ASAP and work in the meantime to self support while working hard to get that damn scholarship that I needed so much. Working and studying in a foreign country is hard, what makes it even harder is that if you need to worry about your life because of your color.
Like my many family relatives, I did not complain loudly about being discriminated against even when some non-Asian students told me that ”The rice you eat is like worms, so disgusting!” or some local cashier told me that “ You must be good at math, so you should calculate your own receipt.” I could have reported all these cases to my foreign advisor to get support. But then I asked myself, are they really racist or just being ignorant? I sincerely do not have clear answers when I am trying to rationalize my own reactions. So I set myself emotionless mode to ignore those noises for almost three years back in college.
Four years later, now being an expecting mom of an Asian baby in this country, I am terrified to learn how Asians get physically attacked during the pandemic. Those Asians who got mocked, injured, or killed in the hate crimes simply because they were born Asians, can be me or my family. My own childhood, oversea life experience and international travels makes me realize discrimination exists everywhere in the world in different forms, but race based hate crimes are the one that frighten me most! I hope tragic history never need to repeat itself, and we all humans can treat each other with basic respect.