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I am an American, but when will I be treated like one? - by Victoria Navarro with art by Cyanne Rangel

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America is notorious for justifying racial issues as a mere “mistake.” Some people think it is honorable to put their ignorance on a pedestal and blurt out simple-minded statements that revolve around their idea of superiority within this country. To this day, people are constantly committing acts of discrimination, such as hate crimes, because they view white superiority as right.

I too am America

I am an Asian-American and I am an outsider: a minority under our country’s white ideals and this belief that beauty is synonymous with snow skin and other Anglican features. Often times, people categorize others based on stereotypes and appearance in general, which degrades who we are as individuals. My skin color automatically puts me in this box of stereotypes where my efforts to be successful are completely disregarded because intelligence is normal “as an Asian.” Simply because of my ethnicity, I am taught to be ashamed that I do not stand at the very top in terms of academic success. Apparently, “as an Asian,” overwhelming myself with rigorous workloads, multiple AP classes, and constant allnighters should not be an issue, ultimately causing me to sacrifice my health for my education. These expectations teach me that I am never enough.

There is no doubt that my Filipino roots play a large role in who I am today because of the culture and ideals that I was brought up with. Yet, it does not define me as an individual. I am more than petty generalizations that were created by a society where privileged people felt the need to divide others by color, sex, and religion. Many people to this day only know how to view the world in the lens of stereotypes, ultimately failing to acknowledge more than my appearance.

Within society, people of color lack the same opportunities that white people receive. For instance, in Hollywood, often times directors develop a movie based on Asian culture, only to cast a white actor as the lead role. It is not a reflection of talent, but rather a measure of racism within our community. As an female Asian-American who wants to go into film production, white ideologies that are constantly perpetuated only create self-doubt in my ability to succeed. I should not have to push aside my aspirations to meet society’s standards and ideals; my ethnicity should not limit my goals.

What’s sad is: I’m not the only one. People of color are constantly being shoved into their race’s stereotypes: smart, athletic, uneducated, aggressive, terrorist. We live in a community where--under all the lies and unachieved ideals of equality--there is this lingering belief that the color of our skin determines our intentions. We are constantly perpetuating a deteriorating society where people refuse to put aside their ignorance for the sake of their pride.

Don’t ignore these blatant acts of racism and give us a community where our skin color is accepted and our cultures are not mocked for being different. We have already built walls to create a division of color, and it is essential to tear these stereotypes apart in order to fix our community. I am not your generalization. I am an American, but when will I be treated like one?

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New 3-Part PBS Film Anthology Series ‘THE LATINO EXPERIENCE’ Features All-New Short Fiction and Nonfiction Films Premieres July 6 on PBS SoCal and July 7 on KCET

Five Southern California-Based Filmmakers Were Selected to Have Content Included InThis Showcase of Short Films Exploring Identity and Cultureof the Latino Community in the U.S. and Abroad
Zhenwei Gao stands in front of a broadcast camera with a green screen behind her. The shot is replicated on a screen to the right of the image.

10 Things SRL Alum Zhenwei Gao Learned as a Youth Journalist

Student Reporting Labs program alum Zhenwei Gao of Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA reflects on the key lessons, takeaways and memories she's gained as a youth journalist for the three past years.
PBS NewsHour National Correspondent William Brangham interviews students on school, raising their siblings and the pandemic.

SoCal Student Featured in PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs Special on COVID's Impact on Education

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs hosted a special called Disrupted: How COVID Changed Education, where students spoke about the systemic issues they noticed in their schools during the pandemic.