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  • Calvin

For My Culture

I’m not the most talkative guy in the room. Sometimes, at bars, people will lunge forward to hear what exactly it is that I was saying. I have a soft spoken voice. And I have been relatively quiet for the majority of my life. No particular reason. It just is the way it is.


And I’m fine with it. I’m not the type of cheerleader that motivates my team with inspirational speeches or pictures of heroic sports teams hanging on the walls. I try to be more of a listener than a speaker. But, Toastmasters has harnessed my speaking abilities over this past decade. And I’m glad to be a part of the organization to discover what communication tactics work for me and what don’t.


It is kind of like a lab so to speak, where you can experiment with different speaking styles and strategies. I don’t get into the race topic too often because it’s often sensitive. But, I am impressed by my fellow friends and community members whom are more passionate about this topic. And seem to speak from a pure heart about the seeming inequities for certain races in America.


I’m Asian American. And I think much progress has been made in the Asian community over these past few years. I do think racism has decreased. And I do enjoy living very much in America.


At the same time, I know that there are still discrepancies and inequities that need to be addressed. And I would like to do a better job of using my voice and my opinions to help these causes of social injustice - particularly in the Asian American community.


I know that decades ago, there was the “model minority” myth about Asians. How we are supposedly the good minority. The one that blends in well with the majority. Or something like that. I’m not an expert on it. But, I am aware of this stereotype of Asians.


I remembered my college roommate (whom was also Asian) talking about it back in the mid 2000s, and complain incessantly about it. How it really depicts Asians in a negative light. And how it pits minorities against each other. And I think that conversation with my roommate has stuck with me to this day.


I also see many prominent Asian figures in the media today - in politics, in movies, in celebrity status. And I think much progress has been made in putting Asian faces in the public domain. And I admire how some of these celebrities or famous people generally talk about some of the misgivings about the Asian community.


Especially during the COVID pandemic, when crimes against Asians were significantly on the rise, I thought the Stop Asian Hate movement really brought these inequities to light. How sometimes Asians are still seen in a submissive or passive role. How we sometimes just accept and tolerate the hardships given to us. So, it must be all okay in the end.


I think the SAH movement really brought to light the discrimination against Asians in America. And how negative feelings about Asians have been on the rise since COVID has spread across the world. It’s an unfortunate incident. And I don’t wish it to continue. But, at the same time, this incident is a good opportunity to shed greater light on Asian culture and to fight for greater improvements for the Asian citizen living in America.


I think that, as an Asian American, it should be my responsibility to contribute my piece to society and speak out when necessary for my fellow brothers and sisters. I think about the Black Lives Movement, particularly in the months after the George Floyd incident, and I see how the nation rose up to critique and discuss the plight of Black Americans across the nation.


I was moved by that, and I thought that was a significant turning point in the movement towards social equity. There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to race relations. And I don’t think I’ll ever see the end goal being fulfilled in my lifetime. But, I think every little thing I can do to help further the cause is a step in the right direction.


I have been donating to AAPI causes throughout the years. Here and there. But, I think I can do a little bit more now that I am older and feeling more responsible for the community. It is my community after all. And the people make up for it. So, this year, I would like to think and reflect a little bit to myself about what it entails to be Asian in America.


The good. The bad. The ugly. The whole works. I think it’s a good topic to discuss with society, and I will try to use my voice and my skills and my interests to help further the cause just a little bit. I don’t have all the answers to the puzzle, nor am I sure where to start. But, the fact that I am writing about this in my blog for the first time can serve as a catalyst for future social action.


I’d say that I am relatively happy as an Asian American living in this world. I just think that there is so much beauty and so much to be grateful for. At the same time, I know that I was born into a relatively fortunate family household. And that my perspective may not be the same as the perspective of another fellow Asian living under completely different external circumstances.


So, I will do what I can to learn and listen with open arms and open ears. And use the voice that I’ve honed at Toastmasters to contribute a little bit more to this society that has given so much back to me over the years. I am still grateful. And I will be better.

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