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TONY SMITH

HALF AFRICAN-AMERICAN / HALF KOREAN

 
 

This is Tony Smith.

I didn’t know anything like that. Back then, I didn’t even look at my mom as Korean. I didn’t look at my dad as black. My mom spoke English pretty fluently, and it’s funny, she spoke like a black person. A lot of her friends were black moms. So it was just, that’s my mom. I didn’t think of it as “oh, she’s Korean speaking English” until later on. And then as I got older she needed help with English stuff and I would help her. That’s when the connection started happening more inside the house.

Outside of the house, in high school was when I felt it the most. White people would look at me like I was a black person. Black people would look at me as if I was not black. Koreans knew I was Korean, but we never hung out. Nobody looked at me the way I looked at myself. I was used to being around black people. I wasn’t used to being around white people or Korean people. So it was really weird to me that I couldn’t be friends with the black crew because I ‘wasn’t black enough.’ If I did good, it was like, ‘it’s your Asian side.’ If I did bad, ‘oh, he’s one of those black people.’

It’s a self confidence thing in my opinion. There isn’t an exact reason, but people latch onto their identity so much that it becomes like a team sport. You’re on the Korean team or you’re on the black team or the white team or the latin team, and I feel like people keep putting everyone into smaller categories, like how dark your skin is. You should be helping each other out. You shouldn’t be hating on each other for something you might not agree with.