Every Asian American kid in the country knows the feeling: When your classmates ask if you eat dogs and cats. When someone pulls at the corners of their eyes to imitate Asian faces on the playground. When you’re called “Ching Chong” or “Ling Ling.”
Some of the comments might seemingly be well-intentioned, like when people say, “You’re pretty for an Asian” or “You’re like a banana — yellow on the outside and White on the inside.” It almost feels like a compliment. You’re expected to laugh along, and you’re afraid not to — after all, you don’t want people to…
Sakura, my namesake, means “cherry blossom” in Japanese. The pink flowers are one of Japan’s most iconic and beloved images. They’re also the country’s national flower. Around the world, when the cherry blossoms bloom, the whole world watches, a tradition called hanami in Japan.
Having the world’s eyes on you can be an incredible privilege. As the first American karateka to ever qualify for the Olympic championships, it’s an honor to introduce millions around the world to the ancient sport this summer. Other times, questioning stares can be a sign of something more dangerous.
A Medium blog chronicling the xenophobia and anti-Asian racism that plagues America.