The effects that racism had on me were very hurtful. I’d go so far as to say I felt downgraded. I went on feeling this way for so long that my self esteem was shot to pieces and I had a nervous breakdown when I was a teenager. I also turned to marijuana when I got into a wrong crowd and left home.
The constant abuse, put downs – call it what you will – all accumulated and resulted in me having a breakdown. I felt alienated because I looked different. I also felt alone all the time as there was no-one for me to talk to. All this happened when I was a teenager – a hard time at best – but this made my teenage years even more difficult. School and making friends were also hard for me because I thought no-one would understand me or they would put me down again. I always felt that people were putting me down because of the constant crap that was hurled my way.
There was nothing my mum or I could do about it at the time – there was no-one that I could talk to or any other Asians that I could identify with (this mainly happened at a particular school which I won’t name). I was the only Asian student at school and I ended up changing schools a number of times because things got too difficult for me. I took it all on the chin because I had no people to talk to. So in the end, when I did leave school and things got too much – I tried to commit suicide and I had my breakdown.
Why is it that unless you have white skin, blue eyes, etc you’re ok? But if you’re any other race or creed you are made to feel like crap? That’s exactly what racism did to me. I was the black sheep so to speak – but why can’t there be black sheep as well as white sheep?
The ways of coping with the racism were very painful. Since I had no-one to talk to about the problems, I had to find other ways of coping. Unfortunately after my breakdown I had to go into hospital and after that I had to leave home. Then somehow I got into the wrong crowd and they got me onto drugs ie marijuana. So it turned into a big ugly cycle. One I couldn’t control or talk to anyone about. I felt ashamed as I thought no-one would understand. The put downs occurred so often that I became wary of people.
It doesn’t happen much now, as a matter of fact it’s completely opposite. I have people asking where I was born, will I go back to Vietnam etc. So there are decent people around after all. I wish all people were tolerant of Asians.
That’s the effect that racism has had on me and on my life.