#ActToChange personal story

Slurs Sting the Most

By Benedict Joson

Race and stereotypes are intertwined. One of the most common is Asians are bad drivers.  Innocuous, right? Wrong.

I will never forget the moment my father, mother, and I were denigrated for daring to be Asian and driving.

We were in a shopping center looking for a parking spot and just as we were about to stow our car, we were met by a temporary impasse. Another driver wanted the same stall, but my father reasoned that we had secured and waited for the space.

Then a passerby driver interjected. “Don’t mind the Asian.”

What does that even mean? Don’t mind the Asian? Why? What purpose does it serve to be so demeaning? Were we second-class citizens? The subtle yet, powerful remark of the driver implied that we were to be considered less worthy of their time and thought.

Benedict Joson

Benedict Joson

It is slurs such as those that sting the most and enable the cycle of bullying to continue. A subtle epithet, especially when said by an adult, gives the message to all that it is ok to shrug others off because of their race or perceived otherness.

As young people, we must speak up and speak out, even to adults. Silence will only permit stereotypes to become discrimination, and discrimination to become bullying. Let’s stop the cycle of bullying where it starts, from our mind and mouth.

Do onto others, as you would have done unto yourself. Treat people kindly and make them feel worthy. Even the smallest and softest words can hurt; but it is words that can also be the catalyst for a positive difference.

Benedict Joson is a Filipino American working on sustainable development and youth empowerment projects with The Philippines Foundation. He is a recent graduate of CUNY Hunter College, global youth ambassador for A World at School, development intern at Urban Upbound, VOYCE (The Voices of Youth Changes Everything) director, and a Hope Reichbach Fund advisor. 

Bullying is targeted aggression or hurtful behavior towards someone that’s aimed at creating a sense of isolation. This blog post is part of ActToChange.org’s features of voices against bullying. “Act To Change” is a public awareness campaign to address bullying, including in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. For more information, visit www.ActToChange.org.

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