Archive for the ‘Teasing’ Category

The Nature of Teasing

23 Jan

I realized after talking to some adoptive parents, that they don’t know the horrid things people can say that are racist. In fact, they wouldn’t know why I would be so fearful of my classmates and how much that can effect self-esteem. In accordance with this, I thought it would be a good idea to list the racist things that have been said to me when I was in Kindergarten to demonstrate how awful children can be and how much it can ostracize and leave children out.

Things said to me:
Why is your face flat? (A few adults said this to me when I was five years old too…)
Did a doctor drop you on your face or were you born that way?
Where is Korea? (then I answer). Oh. *looks away* (Adults did this too… but this is more sad than anything.)
Are you CHINESE?
Where are your *real parents*? (this was also asked by adults–don’t doubt the ignorance of adults.)
Korea. Oh, that’s where the Korean war happened. (This was the extent to the adult knowledge of Korea throughout my childhood…. which is sad.)
You’re Korean? But your eyes are Chinese.
Did the doctor drop you on your face, or were you born this way?
Asians are smart. Help me with my homework.
Asian women are submissive.
What language do you speak? Oh You speak English good. (Uhh… it’s well… and yes, I still get this question after talking to the person for 10 minutes. Does my English seem that deficient?)
What are you? (I usually answer Human, and you?)
I was called stupid Asian.
I was told, “This is America.” when I didn’t act like a submissive female Asian.
Was your face hit with a frying pan?
If I know Japanese language, then I must be Japanese. I know French too… I must be French.

Things I have done to me:
Someone pinched my hand until it bled. My parents and teacher ignored it.
I said I was teased all through grade school. My parents ignored it.
People refused to make friends with me.
I was abandoned for a white friend.
When people *did* make friends with me, they were equally teased for being friends with me. This meant I couldn’t make friends because they became targets too.
I was singled out to help with homework and do all the problems for the group.
I’ve been hit upon for being Asian rather than any other reason. (Excuse the language, but the myth of the tight vagina in Asian women still exists.)
Children will pull their eyes back and chant, “Chinese, Japanese.” First day, I had this happen.
They will surround you.
I had my homework stolen. But the teacher caught it. (Do you think this isn’t racist… you have to be seriously whacked to not think it is racism.)
I was picked on more than anyone else in the class. (I was the only Asian in the entire school, I believe…)

Things I have felt:
Kids sometimes *stare* at me. If people want to know if a three year old can tell the difference between races, I can tell you they can.
Men hitting on me for being Asian, indirectly. (Whistling). I mean if you’re in baggy jeans, your hair is an absolute wreck from bed head, and you’re slouching in a dirty jacket, why else is that guy whistling at you from a car two lanes away and trying to get you to climb in his car?
I’ve been hired because I was Asian and when I wasn’t “submissive” Asian enough they fired me. (True story)

Fortunate things:
I haven’t been called “chink” yet.
I haven’t been called gook yet.
I haven’t been called “Jap” yet.
But then I don’t think anyone has the guts too.
I haven’t been told I could be blinded by dental floss.

How this can effect children:
What stereotypes do is serve to make a mold of being that people expect one to conform to. In this case, it is the submissive Japanese female who will bow at the door to greet her husband, be wild in bed and have a tight vagina, yet have dinner and a bath ready, with the entire house clean.

If you don’t conform to this stereotype, then the question is: “What is wrong with you?” This would be the “stupid” Asian attitude listed above.
If you conform to this stereotype, then you are screwed because you are pigeon-holed into being someone you are not. In another words, by teasing one is forced to become these stereotypes without a way to escape. So the choice is black and white, with no way to navigate to define oneself on ones own terms because the other person is categorizing you no matter what you say.

This is a living terror because no matter what you do, you can’t ever define yourself without someone else doing it for you, which eats at your self-esteem. If self-esteem is the ability to define oneself, then this has been robbed from the person being teased. But then, who wants to conform to such black and white terms of self based on ignorance from a few hundred years of race relations of Chinese and Japanese immigration? Not to mention, cultural facts that are plain perpetrated and are wrong? There is no chance if you do these things that you would fit into those cultures either–rather you will justify those stereotypes for the people giving it to you.

Of course teasing gets worse when:
1. An adult joins in and doesn’t defend the child.
2. When people choose to ignore the teasing.
3. When the only talk about race relations is black-white.
4. When people believe children are innocent and can’t say vicious things like, “Your face must have been hit by a frying pan.”

I scored on all of these… and so that’s why it was safer to drift into myself because accepting these stereotypes and sayings would have destroyed me from the inside.

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Posted in Teasing


The Worst Teacher

23 Jan

The biggest ass teacher I ever had was a substitute teacher. He was nervous. His hands shook and I remember his mouth quivering. His hair was parted on one side. He was disorganized. He didn’t know the material. I wasn’t impressed. It was fourth grade. He was subbing for a teacher I liked.

This was a class I originally liked because the teacher was strict and fair, but never let any injustice pass her by. Everyone hated her. The lessons they complained were too hard. Most of them didn’t even want to try. She didn’t let any disorder go in her class.

Now she was gone. The class was chaotic as there was no “real” teacher. The students all whispered about the freedom they would have without our teacher there.

The first order of business for the students was finding other students to pick on. I was number one as a good target. And this other student was another target. Neither of us fought back, which made us perfect. The other kid was tall and big. He was African American. I didn’t know it then, but the kids must of, that his parents were white. He was also adopted. The kids loved pairing us together. The more I objected, the more they teased.

The roar of kids dominated the classroom. Every motion or thing they thought disgusting was under their critical eye if they didn’t like you. Today was no different.

They accused me of farting. A bunch of kids started teasing and laughing, disturbing the class. They started making sound to imitate. In addition they pinned it on our side of the classroom pointing to me or the other guy.

The teacher was not able to handle the chaos. In a desperate attempt to control the chaos he asked me if it was true. When I said nothing from the shock that he was going to blame me he escorted me to the bathroom.

This was the first time an adult had failed my expectations. Even when Eomma left, I had faith in her. I forgave her. Even when I was placed in the orphanage, I had faith in Appa.

He took me and forced me to sit in the bathroom, which was inside of the classroom. I spent my time in there crying silently while the kids outside laughed at me. The class went wild.

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Posted in Childhood, Teasing


ADD and Daydreaming

23 Jan

I used to day dream a lot. It was escape from the teasing, the hardships that life gave me. I’d make up stories. I remember I was daydreaming in class because the problem they were teaching was boring. I could see the rafters. I was thinking up a story with Barbie who was blonde, skinny and big-chested. Her head would pop off and I’d have to hunt for my dad to put her back together. It was the usual fare. She was a princess. I was deciding who was going to be the prince.

It was a way to escape from my surroundings because from the time I started school I was in constant fear of being teased. From the time I got on the bus to the time I stepped off. The teasing I received stripped me of my adoptive culture, my birth culture and of myself. That’s in part how I learned that words have a lot of power.

I would sometimes mutter to myself sorting out the stories going through my head. I day dreamed a lot because my surroundings were less desirable. I wanted to be rescued like Cinderella from her poor life. I saw nothing wrong with this. I would do it in the middle of someone else’s conversation because I didn’t want to listen.

When my parents yelled for me to come and get dinner. I tuned them out. I had learned from the age of five that all yelling was a bad thing. Yelling from my mom because we went out into the street, yelling at school because the kids were picking on me. So I learned that all yelling was bad, so I tuned it out. As the teasing got worse and there was no one to even listen to me and as I internalized those feelings, me not listening to yelling got worse. I wouldn’t even respond when dinner was being called.

My parents, therefore, ignoring all my previous hurt of teasing, decided to take me in for hearing testing. They figured that my problem was that I couldn’t hear right. I told them up front that I passed the school hearing test. They ignored me. After they got the results, my mom said in an exacerbated voice as her volume rose up, “Is it that you’re just ignoring us? Why won’t you tell us what’s wrong?”

But the thing was, I had told them what was wrong since I was in kindergarten and they’d brushed me off every single time until I was afraid to tell them. They told me it wasn’t about race. They told me I was wrong and they just proved through the hearing test that they were not open to listening to me talk about myself, even on a small thing like that. I was a kid. I was wrong about my own state of being.

So ignoring me again and my own thoughts on the matter, my parents thought I had ADD. They brought me to a psychiatrist. I constantly asked why they were doing this. I thought they were trying to find something wrong with me, but unlike every other time I asked why they didn’t explain why until some years later. They insist that they did. Perhaps I heard it but didn’t understand. I was indignant and I was determined I was going to beat the psychiatrist over the head with how smart I was. I remember the guy as nervous. He wasn’t calm. He constantly twitched and his voice was never even. I remember his glasses and the sweat on his brow.

He sat me down. I thought it was going to be like school work. My parents weren’t there. I looked for them. He gave me blocks to stack and arrange. He gave me a puzzle of a horse that I stubbornly refused to believe was a horse. My imagination was playing itself again. But I was going to beat that timer. I was always like that. I would try to read his impassive and always nervous face. I decided I didn’t like him. That’s why I was going to defeat him.

He asked no questions. Sometimes he would give a little vocal guidance. I was secretly upset when he helped out. I wasn’t day dreaming because I could see the challenge set in front of me.

We remet with my parents in, I think, his office. I could see his degree. I was a strange child. I always looked for degrees and the things around the office. I still spend time reading instructions, product labels and cereal boxes.
“She just needs more attention in the classroom. I think smaller classroom size would be helpful.” He only helped to confirm their suspicions. It wasn’t because I was being teased, it was because I had a learning disability which could only be cured by smaller class sizes. He helped their denial.

I didn’t know what going on. I already was trying to figure out the context.
“Yes, we’re trying to transfer her.”

They mentioned a school and people they knew from there. This was baffling to me. It occurred to me that most of the people’s names were Jewish or that I knew them.
My parents had never asked me why I daydreamed. I can confidently answer them that it was the only way to keep my sanity when I was in constant fear of being teased. I would day dream in the middle of their teasing. Through their chants of “teacher’s pet” “cooties” “You are gay with your best friend” or pairing me with another classmate they didn’t think acceptable. They never associated the two together. I wouldn’t expect them to.

I had a freak determination to never return to that position again. I concentrated more out of pride rather than because I had a smaller classroom size. However the change of schools helped in other ways. I wasn’t teased as much. People didn’t chant about Asians. People didn’t pair me up with strange people or call me gay. I wonder if my parents still think that change of schools cured my day dreaming, or if it ever occurred to them how horrid the teasing was.

I still write stories. And occasionally if someone talks for too long I begin to think of them, but I’ve learned a new skill since the last time I sat in that psychiatrist’s chair. The skill of half listening.

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Posted in Parents, Racism, Teasing

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