Puzzle Pieces

“How can you not be good at math? You’re Asian.”

“Do you have rice and sushi for dinner everyday?

“Are your parents even legal citizens of the U.S.?”

These moments in my mind are constantly replayed

Growing up in a predominantly White neighborhood

Attending a school where I was perceived as different

With a supposed tint of yellow skin and conflicting culture

These reminders of alienation seemed persistent

Unusually dark for my race

With smoother and blacker hair

These characteristics which I could not control

deemed me as exotic and very rare

The Korean traditions and customs I practiced

And the foreign language which I spoke

These became things I once attempted to hide

A lifestyle suppressed and revoked

But I am no aspiring doctor or lawyer

Surprised as you may be

And in this way, maybe I’m not your typical Korean

Here, we can both finally agree

Because I am not just simply Korean or Asian

Why limit anyone’s identity in this way?

I am equally as American as those around me

Even though something physically different may be displayed

Born and raised in San Francisco

I began to experience what it was like

To live in a diverse and heterogenous world

where not everything was just black and white

And no, not all Asians are Chinese

Just like not all Hispanics are Mexican

There is a difference among all ethnicities

And I can be both Korean and American

People like me, we should not have to choose

Between one thing or the other

Just like we do not have to choose

between having a mother or a father

People like me, we see things in two different ways

And we live in two distinct spheres

But these do not clash, as one would expect

Even though the polarities seem to appear

I am proud that my parents are not fluent English speakers

I am proud to celebrate Korean thanksgiving

I am proud when I bow to my elders in respect

I am proud to have a different standard of living

I am proud to have grown up

knowing and embracing the culture that may set me apart

It is something of great value that I treasure

Like a wounded soldier treasures his Purple Heart

This dual identity within me

has only strengthened the core of what I know and believe

So though it may seem like a disadvantage

It has taught me that there is more than one way to achieve

And just like a puzzle cannot be completed

without all of its pieces and parts

I am a mosaic of my Korean and American identities

to create a final piece of art

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