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  • (mellow guitar music)

  • - Hey, everyone, it's your girl Jenn

  • and I am so excited to film this video for you guys

  • because the month of May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month

  • and in the spirit of that, I thought that it would be

  • very timely to do the Asian American tag.

  • I wanted to share with you guys my experience

  • growing up Asian American and my friend Amy gave

  • this whole concept structure and made it very simple

  • by creating questions and so I just wanna

  • dive right into it so let's get started.

  • I am Korean-American.

  • I was born and raised in Southern California.

  • So my parents immigrated from Korea

  • and they first moved to Chile

  • and that's where my mom had my brother

  • but after my parents got their green card,

  • they were able to come to America and they had me.

  • And so I would categorize me and my brother

  • as first-generation because like, my parents didn't speak

  • any English so we were truly the first generation

  • to really grow up American here.

  • The first experience when I realized that I was different

  • from the rest of the kids, was when I was

  • in first or second grade, my mom packed my favorite food

  • which was kare rice which is basically just curry

  • with rice and it has vegetables and meat

  • and it's so delicious and I remember

  • being so excited to eat it for lunchtime

  • and when I opened the Tupperware, I remember a kid

  • looking at it and just being so disgusted

  • and he just called me out, he was like,

  • "Jennifer packed poop for lunch!"

  • and I remember being so mortified and so embarrassed

  • and I just completely lost my appetite

  • and I don't, I didn't even eat that lunch

  • and when I got home, I told my Mom that I never wanted her

  • to pack things like this again.

  • I told her that I only wanted her to pack like Lunchables

  • and sandwiches just like normal American food

  • so that I would fit in.

  • When I was younger, there was a period where

  • I was super proud to be Korean.

  • It happened when I was around like nine years old.

  • My mom took me and my brother to Korea

  • for the entire summer, and we stayed at my aunt's

  • and it was such an amazing experience because for once

  • like I realized like that everyone looked like me

  • and I felt really, just like, I just felt like I connected

  • with everybody and I remember always hanging out

  • at this park where all the kids used to hang out

  • and I made a lot of friends because everyone was so

  • fascinated at the fact that I was American.

  • And so I would bring like chapter books that I'd packed

  • and I'd be like (speaks in foreign language),

  • and everyone was like so impressed and it was just,

  • it was just a really great time for me

  • and that's when I was really just like proud of my culture

  • and when I brought that back to America, like that,

  • that pride stayed there for a little bit

  • until I went to middle school and middle school was

  • when everything just kind of changed for me.

  • I feel like it was a lot of factors just hitting

  • all when I was like 11.

  • It was puberty, it was the fact that I was like chubby

  • and then the fact that like there weren't that many

  • Asians in my school.

  • I remember there was a group of these boys

  • that walked the same route as me home

  • and I remember hating when we would like cross paths

  • because they would always say something to me

  • and they would say something so like racist.

  • They would say things like "Hey chink do you wanna

  • do my homework?"

  • or "Hey, you dropped your calculator" and now,

  • I wish that I had the strength to just clap back at them

  • because at the time, I just didn't say anything,

  • I was so scared

  • I was, I was genuinely afraid of my, for, I was afraid

  • for my life and I wish that I had the courage

  • to just like stand up to them and be like

  • "Hey yes, I did drop my calculator, thank you.

  • "I'm really, really gonna need this when I'm just

  • "calculating all my finances in the future"

  • but unfortunately, I wasn't like that.

  • I think this also crossed at the same path

  • when my parents made me go to Korean school on Saturday

  • and I was so pissed that they were making me and my brother

  • go to school an extra day.

  • Like we already had Monday through Friday

  • and now they're adding like a whole new curriculum

  • for Saturday and like we also, they also made us go

  • to church every Sunday so I felt like I had

  • no days off, like ugh!

  • So we had to go to Korean school and there was this

  • one instance with a teacher that just really stuck with me.

  • She was telling us that when people ask us what our

  • ethnicity is, we need to say that we are Korean-American.

  • The Korean always has to be first and I remember being very

  • unsettled by it because I felt like in my heart that

  • I was American so I rose my hand and I told her my piece

  • and she said, "No, you are always going to be Korean.

  • "You're Korean-American."

  • And I just said like, "Why can't I just be American?

  • "I was born here, I speak the language, I don't understand."

  • I just felt like this big distance between my culture

  • and what I was brought into.

  • I associated being Korean as a negative thing because

  • number one, the bullying sucked and number two, I would

  • see the way people would treat my parents.

  • Like my parents didn't speak English very well.

  • I would just see the way people would treat my parents

  • because of their accent.

  • People lose their temper, people get frustrated,

  • people treat you like you're an idiot when you have

  • an accent and it just really frustrated me and my Mom

  • is already kind of a shy, timid person and I think

  • when she was thrown into this world in America

  • as like a foreign person, I think that

  • just made her reclusive even more.

  • One stereotype that I absolutely struggled with growing up

  • was the model minority stereotype.

  • The fact that all Asians are amazing at crunching numbers

  • and they're just really great academically blah, blah, blah

  • and I think from an outsider's perspective

  • people might think wow like, that's actually a really

  • good stereotype, like people just think you're really smart

  • but it puts a lot of pressure on you especially

  • when you are not academically smart.

  • Like I, growing up I tried my best to be a good student.

  • Like I would literally spend hours and hours doing

  • my homework and all this stuff and it just

  • wouldn't register to me.

  • Like I was always like a B minus, C student, like one time

  • I got a D and like, in an Asian household like that

  • is unacceptable, like my B minuses were such disappointments

  • to my parents and they would always compare me to like

  • other kids and because I wasn't the best student, I felt

  • this distance between my Asian American peers that were

  • very studious so I just found like a new group of friends.

  • Like friends that I can connect with artistically

  • and creatively and obviously like there was

  • Asian Americans there too but it was like a whole mix

  • and it was really cool like we would,

  • you know burn CDs for each other, we would go to shows,

  • we'd go thrifting and I felt really blessed that I was able

  • to have my own community in high school.

  • Yes I can speak Korean.

  • I would probably say I speak the equivalent of like

  • a seven year old, maybe a six year old now.

  • Like I know how to get by.

  • I know, you know, how to ask for directions, order food,

  • have like light conversation but anything with depth,

  • I'm just like ugh like, I don't know.

  • When I watch the Korean news, I'm just kinda like,

  • I don't know what they're saying.

  • They have to talk a lot slower.

  • It was a lot better when I was living with my parents

  • obviously, like I speak Konglish with my parents

  • so I'll speak Korean and then I'll just fill

  • in English words where I don't know the Korean words.

  • I just don't understand like where did all those years

  • of Korean school go, like, did I just bury them in a box?

  • Like it's, I don't know but I want

  • to change this desperately and so I'm just gonna do

  • like an open call now.

  • I'm looking for a Korean tutor if you are based

  • in the Los Angeles area, I would love for you

  • to DM me on my Instagram, it's IMJENNIM.

  • I guess you just tell me your name, your age,

  • what school you go to or if you did and just like

  • what kind of program would you put me on for, ya know,

  • my Korean tutoring session.

  • Being Korean-American absolutely affected my relationship

  • with my parents.

  • There was a lot of frustration and anger because

  • of all the miscommunication that would happen.

  • There were so many times where I would just try

  • to talk to my parents but there are just words

  • that I just didn't know and vice versa and we would

  • just have yelling matches.

  • I would scream at them being like,

  • "Why can't you (bleep) learn English"

  • and they would just say like, "Why don't you know Korean,

  • "like you are Korean."

  • And so it always felt like this battle and growing up

  • my entire life, I felt this huge disconnect

  • from my brain and my mouth, like I felt like I couldn't

  • say exactly what I was feeling or I couldn't articulate

  • and put into words so writing was a nightmare for me.

  • I hated writing because I would just look at the paper

  • and be like, "I just don't know what to say."

  • I don't know, like maybe was it because I was juggling

  • two languages, like I don't know.

  • I mean, but I just look at other people and I see like

  • you grew up with like four languages and you're fine

  • so I don't know, maybe it's just like a personal thing

  • but I've always had trouble communicating and so

  • with my parents with that language barrier, it was just

  • like an extra level of just ugh, just fogginess

  • and I just, I was just very angry growing up

  • and I feel really bad for my parents because

  • when I was a teenager, I was not, I mean I was

  • kind of a nightmare so now I wanna chat

  • about the power dynamics because I feel like

  • that was kind of off with my parents because when we were

  • at home, obviously my parents were in charge so we'd listen

  • to them but when we were out and about, we would always

  • be translating and speaking, especially for my Mom

  • and it's because my Mom is a very shy and fearful person

  • and I don't know if she was always this way because I

  • didn't know her when she was younger but I think it's

  • because of the judgment that people would give because

  • something really traumatic happened

  • to her while she was out here so

  • So when I was in preschool,

  • I remembered my Dad picked me

  • up from school and I knew something was wrong

  • because normally my Mom picks me up from school so we

  • go home and I go to my parents' room and I see my Mom

  • just lying on the bed with a towel on her face

  • and so I asked my Dad like, "Is everything okay?"

  • and he says, "Oh she's just napping."

  • We found out later that someone had robbed the store.

  • My parents had a really small shop that sold

  • women's clothes in El Monte and someone had a knife

  • and he told her to give her the money in the register

  • and my Mom refused because that was all the money

  • we had and so she said no

  • and he sliced her face and of course he took the money

  • and she was a very fearful, fearful person after that.

  • She never spoke and I think it took her a very long time

  • to recover from that and when she told me that story

  • again when I was older, it just, it just lit a fire

  • in me, like I, because I

  • never want my parents to be in a situation like

  • that ever again and the reason why

  • I'm telling you this story is because I feel like

  • first-generation parents, they have to do the shitty jobs.

  • They have to work in the dangerous locations.

  • The have to work at the salon, the convenience stores

  • and they do this because they want to give us a better life