Twinkies, Oreos, Coconuts, Chocolate-Dippers, Bananas, Cookies. Think More Racist & You’ll Understand!
by aller1 on November 19, 2013 - 1:12am
Growing up in a community where the majority of the people are a certain race—one not of your own—can be very difficult. In some scenarios, being a different race from the community isn’t really something pointed out, however in others, people sometimes make it known that your background is not the same as theirs. In the documentary Somewhere Between (Goldstein Knowlton, 2011), a film about four different girls and how their lives have been after being adopted in the U.S. because of China’s “One Child Policy”, being identified solely by your race in a neighborhood is pretty common. The documentary highlights many of the ways that race was the first, if not the only, thing some people saw when looking at an Asian girl in a White community. The girls explain that there have been countless times where they’ve had weird looks while with their adopted parents, been teased about being the only Chinese person in their school/community, and have had stereotypical remarks about being Asian. Jenna is one of the girls in this film, and in one particular scene, Jenna’s mother even pointed out how evident it is that Jenna is the only Asian girl in their “white town,” so she strives to make it seem like she has everything under control. Another girl, Ann, talks about joining the color guard—known as a “reject sport” in their community for kids that don’t fit in with the crowd. She states joining this sport specifically because of her different race, and it’s not something unexpected by their school; in other words, all the stand-outs were on color guard. Sara and Jenna are sisters in the film that talk about how it is being the minority in their community, especially pointing out how easy it is to realize they they’re the only Asian ones when going out. Jenna also talks about the comfort that’s not there when not around their race, and talks about how comforting it feels to be in her Asian boyfriend’s house surrounded by his Asian relatives, stating that “there’s a sense of belonging and comfort” when having the same “external appearance” as his family. This documentary showed the many different ways these girls, living all over the United States, felt that same outcast as if they were all in one neighborhood.
I can really connect with this thesis, as well as its supporting evidence in the documentary, and have personal experience of living in a community and not being of the majority race. I am half Filipino and half Puerto Rican—yet look more Hispanic. When around my family and cousins from my Filipino side, I was out-casted by my cousins a lot and was always called “The Boricua”, a term used to describe Puerto Ricans. When around my Hispanic family, I felt a lot more welcomed and felt like I belonged to this side of my heritage, therefore embracing it more. Although I know both Spanish and Tagalog at a basic level, I never felt comfortable speaking Tagalog because I don’t “look the part”; I feel people would look at me and wonder why does that Spanish girl speak this Asian language? My family also lived in Canarsie, Brooklyn—an area heavily populated by Haitians and Jamaicans. Growing up, I always felt in competition with everyone to prove I can dance, sing, and play sports just as well they can. It even felt weird walking into an Asian grocery store with my Filipino mom; nobody thought we were even related—let alone me being her daughter. This film portrayed great situations of how difficult it can be to live in a community and be part of the minority race.
Goldstein Knowlton, L. (Director/Co-Producer) & Verducci, P. (Co-Producer). (2011). Somewhere Between [DVD]. United States. Long Shot Factory and Ladylike Films.