What is race? What does it mean to be White, Black, Asian, Latino, or any other identifiable race? The general misconception is that race is manifested by the pigment of our skin, the shape of our eyes, the size of our noses or brows. Pointing out these features and generalizing certain aspects towards a group of people normal, but it does not necessarily mean it's the right way to approach racial identification. Physical features do not tell the whole story. An individual may have a very diverse background, a very interesting story about their past, but the observable features may not suffice. Nonetheless, this type of generalization evokes a sense of racism whether it is intentional or not.
My first encounter with racism since moving here from China was on my first day of school. I felt particularly nervous about class because I was unsure how the other students would react to someone who is not very fluent in English. I found a seat and sat quiet hoping not to stir up a conversation and feel disabled by the language barrier. When the bell rang and the teacher told us to get in groups, I felt timid, but at the same time, I was happy to be given the opportunity to possibly make some friends. When the group activity began, I gave my best effort to socialize with the people in my group, but I was given a very brash stare. I felt like I was being judged by my appearance and never really given the chance to introduce myself. Before I could say another word, one of the guys looked right into my eyes and said "Do you know you're pretty annoying,.can you just shut your mouth so we can get this done." The classroom became very silent after hearing the commotion in our group, but no one said anything to defend me. When classes ended, one of the guys walked out and whispered to his friend "why did we get the chink of all people." At the moment, I almost felt guilty for being Chinese, but I knew that racism would be inevitable since I was the only one in the class that did not speak English fluently.