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School Daze: When being a minority and in the minority at school jeopardizes your sense of self

I went to the wrong school for college.

Why did I think a very white, exclusive small college in a very white small town in a very white small state would be a good choice for a kid who grew up in an inner city (albeit also a minority with very little Koreans around me)?

I had drunk the Kool Aid of romantic notions of me, hardcore city girl, communing with trees and running through fields of flowers, while the muses showered me with instant poetic brilliance. But really what happened was that I drank too much, skipped classes, and became confused about my identity. Plus the racializing of minorities at this school was used so blatantly by the administration, which I only came to understand years after I graduated. I was pretty naive so did not recognize the fetishizing of a Native American student, she was Hopi, at a dinner with the college president during the first weeks of coming to this school.

I don't know if this student felt like she was being singled out because of her ethnicity, but I can see just how exotic she must have seemed to a white middle aged lady running a school for mainly white students. Heck, I see now how much more exotic she must have seemed compared to me, a city hick of the Korean persuasion. We were everywhere so not as exciting to spot even in New England (probably assumed to be Chinese anyways).

I just finished Cathy Park Hong's Minor Feelings so I know that all of these feelings of false expectations and othering are bound to come up. And plus I found this picture of me at graduation wearing a silk dress that I paid too much for and makes me look like I'm hiding a loaf of something under there. I remember thinking I was so cool because I got it at some bougeois boutique in town. So in addition to an identity reality check coach, it looks like I could have also used fashion consultant?


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