awkward, exoticized, and embarrassed

(I am a female-identifying, Asian-American student at Davidson.)  I visited a Walmart around campus my first year here and was approached by a white man at the register who asked me if I was Korean. After affirming, he continued to talk to me across the register, asking me if I ate kimchi, if I spoke Korean, and other questions about my heritage. He proceeded to tell me about his Korean wife and even showed me a picture of her. He couldn’t hide his pride at having successfully guessed my ethnicity. I felt incredibly awkward, exoticized, and embarrassed to be having the conversation at such a volume/distance that others could overhear.    

buying people

I was talking to a colleague about recruiting / sales jobs (which are inherently all about persuading others to ‘buy into’ the candidacy of a new hire or product), and my colleague apologized for using language about “buying people,” because of slavery. Since I’m a woman of color. 

“the box I’ve put them in”

I keep anglicizing people’s names if I see them as White. It’s like all White people have to be Anglos, apparently. I’m always really sorry, but I do it periodically, and then they have to forgive me, after knowing that’s how I see them. Like, their real name is unimportant to me because it has to conform to the box I’ve put them in. 

hyper-sexualized

I’m Latina, from Caribbean descent. So that means people see me as a sex object. The hot Latin woman, the Sofia Vergara caricature. Sometimes, I’ll move my body in a way that is perfectly natural for anyone, but people will imitate me as this hyper-sexualized thing, and it’s supposed to be funny. They don’t realize it’s because they are buying into the racism. I get it from people across the spectrum — white people and people of color. But never from other Caribbean people. We just all shake our heads. 

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