The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


What does it mean to be Asian American in 2009? What does “Asian American” signify to you?

These were two questions I was asked to respond to as part of the Asian Pacific American Roundtable, which is basically LMU’s monthly G8, except that it’s attended by the heads of all the Asian/Pacific Islander clubs.

And you know what? I didn’t have an answer. I saw all of the other club presidents and representatives furiously scribbling down their thoughts, the half sheets of paper we were given were being filled up with neat handwriting and most likely insightful, meaningful answers. And my mind just drew a blank. How was I supposed to answer? Is there even a right answer?

I don’t know what it means to be Asian American in 2009. I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to feel any different from any other year, and I’ve been “Asian American” my whole life (or rather, as an immigrant, I’ve actually just been Asian… so I’m not sure if I actually apply to either of these questions sometimes).

There are times when I’ve felt invisible in the minority community, like that person you see at a party that you sort of know and might say hi to or acknowledge with a smile or a nod of the head but never go up to and talk to, never hang out with, never really call your friend. And I’ve thought, well maybe it’s because people don’t think our struggles, our experiences weren’t tragic enough, that it wasn’t hard enough for any of us.

People play upon our stereotypes: our supposed hard work ethic, intelligence, our silence. Never mind that I come from a third-world country, that the Japanese were once forced into internment camps by the government during World War II, or that, hey, we have problems just like any other race… scratch that, just like any other person in the world.

I’ve always been taught to understand others by the words and their actions, never by their race or ethnicity. Because in the end, does it make a difference, whether you’re Asian, Black, Latino, White? I’ve always thought that if people were to judge me, it would be by my words and actions but if we’re still asking what it means to be Asian American now, well then I don’t know. I’ve always loved being Asian and have close ties to my past and cultural heritage. I am fiercely proud of being Asian/Asian American, but the truth is that I’m stuck.

Not because I’ve never thought how my race or ethnicity affects my actions, words, and thoughts, and how people judge me, but because I never thought that it was supposed to really matter.

Issa Morada

Photo courtesy of: Dodo at Wikimedia Commons


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