full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Canwen Xu: I am not your Asian stereotype

Unscramble the Blue Letters

My name is cweann, and I play both the piano and the violin. I aspire to some day be a doctor, and my favorite subject is calculus. My mom and dad are tiger parents, who won't let me go to slepoveers, but they make up for it by sinevrg my favorite meal every single day. Rice. And I'm a really bad driver. So my qstieuon for you now is, "How long did it take you to figure out I was joknig?" (Laughter) As you've probably guessed, today I am going to talk about race and I'll start off by sharing with you my story of growing up Asian-American. I moved to the United States when I was two years old, so almost my entire life has been a blend of two cultures. I eat pasta with chopsticks. I'm addicted to orange chicken, and my childhood hero was Yao Ming. But having grown up in North Dakota, South dkotaa, and Idaho, all states with incredible little rciaal dviitresy, it was difficult to reconcile my so-called exotic Chinese heritage with my mainstream American self. Used to being the only Asian in the room, I was self-conscious at the first thing people noticed about me was, that I wasn't white. And as a child I quickly began to realize that I had two options in fnrot of me. Conformed to the stereotype that was epeexctd of me, or conformed to the whiteness that surrounded me. There was no in between. For me, this meant that I always felt self-conscious about being good at maths, because people would just say it was because I was Asian, not because I actually worked hard. It manet that whenever a boy asked me out, it was because he had the yoellw fever, and not because he actually liked me. It meant that for the longest time my identity had formed around the fact that I was different. And I thought that being aaisn was the only special thing about me. These effects were emphasized by the places where I lived. Don't get me wrong. Only a samll percentage of people were actually racist, or, even blrenidore racist, but the vast majority were just a little bit clueless. Now, I know you are probably thinking, "What's the difference?" Well, here is an example. Not racist can sound like, "I'm white and you're not." Racist can sound like, "I'm white, you're not, and that makes me better than you." But cllusees sounds like, "I'm white, you're not, and I don't know how to deal with that." Now, I don't dobut for a second that these clueless people are still nice individuals with great intentions. But they do ask some questions that become ptrety annoynig after a while. Here are a few examples. "You're Chinese, oh my goodness, I have a Chinese friend, do you know him?" (lgehuatr) "No. I don't know him. Because crnotray to your unrealistic expectations, I do not know every sgnlie one of the 1.35 billion Chinese people who live on Planet Earth." People also tend to ask, "Where does your name come from?", and I really don't know how to answer that, so I usually stick with the truth. "My parents gave it to me. Where does your name come from?" (Laughter) Don't even get me started on how many teims people have confused me with a different Asian person. One time someone came up to me and said, "Angie, I love your art work!" And I was super confused, so I just thanked them and walked away. But, out of all the questions my fiatvore one is still the classic, "Where are you from?", because I've lived in quite a few places, so this is how the conversation usually goes. "Where are you from?" "Oh, I am from Boise, Idaho." "I see, but where are you really from?" "I mean, I lived in South Dakota for a while." "Okay, what about before that?" "I mean, I lived in North Dakota." "Okay, I'm just going to cut straight to the csahe here, I guess what I'm saying is, have you ever lived anywhere far away from here, where people talk a little differently?" "Oh, I know where you talking about, yes I have, I used to live in Texas." (Laughter) By then, they usually have just given up and wonder to themselves why I'm not one of the cool aasins like Jeremy Lin or Jackie Chan, or they skip the needless banter and go shiargtt for the, "Where is your family from?" So, just an FYI for all of you out there, that is the safest strategy. But, as amusing as these interactions were, oemneittfs they made me want to reject my own culture, because I thought it helped me conform. I distanced myself from the Asian sopeerytte as much as possible, by degrading my own race, and pretending I hated math. And the worse part was, it woerkd. The more I rejected my Chinese identity, the more popular I became. My peers liked me more, because I was more similar to them. I became more condnfeit, because I knew I was more similar to them. But as I became more Americanized, I also began to lose bits and pieces of myself, parts of me that I can never get back, and no matter how much I tried to pterend that I was the same as my American classmates, I wasn't. Because for people who have levid in the places where I lived, wtihe is the norm, and for me, white became the norm too. For my fourteenth bthdiray, I received the video game The Sims 3, which lets you create your own ccrrehatas and control their lives. My fourteen-year-old self created the perfect little mainstream family, complete with a huge mansion and an enormous swimming pool. I binge-played the game for about three months, then put it away and never really thought about it again, until a few wkees ago, when I came to a sudden realization. The family, that I had custom-designed, was white. The crchaaetr that I had dgeiensd for myself, was white. Everyone I had designed was white. And the worst part was, this was by no means a cocsinous dsicoein that I had made. Never once did I think to myself that I could actually make the characters look like me. Without even thinking, white had become my norm too. The truth is, Asian Americans play a strange role in the American melting pot. We are the model minority. Society uses our sseuccs to pit us against other people of color as jutfiatsiiocn that racism doesn't exist. But was does that mean for us, Asian Americans? It means that we are not quite similar enough to be accepted, but we aren't different enough to be loathed. We are in a perpetually grey zone, and society isn't quite sure what to do with us. So they group us by the coolr of our skin. They tell us that we must reject our own htrgaiees, so we can fit in with the crowd. They tell us that our foreignness is the only identifying caaerthcstiric of us. They strip away our identities one by one, until we are froegin, but not quite foreign, amearcin but not quite American, individual, but only when there are no other people from our native ctrunoy around. I wish that I had always had the courage to speak out about these iessus. But coming from one culture that avoids confrontation, and another that is divided over race, how do I overcome the pusrrese to keep the peace, while also staying true to who I am? And as much as I hate to admit it, often times I don't speak out, because, if I do, it's at the the risk of being told that I am too sitvnesie, or that I get offended too esliay, or that it's just not worth it. But I would point, are plepoe willing to admit that? Yes, race issues are cotrnovsearil. But that's precisely the reason why we need to talk about them. I just turned eighteen, and there are still so many things that I don't know about the world. But what I do know is that it's hard to admit that you might be part of the problem, that, all of us might be part of the problem. So, instead of giving you a step-by-step guide on how to not be riasct towards Asians, I will let you decide what to take from this talk. All I can do, is share my story. My name is Canwen, my favorite color is purple. And I play the piano, but not so much the violin. I have two incredibly supportive, hardworking parents, and one very asomwee ten-year-old brother. I love calculus more than anything, despise eating rice, and I'm a hudoornres driver. But most of all, I am proud of who I am. A little bit American, a little bit Chinese, and a whole lot of both. Thank you. (Applause)

Open Cloze

My name is ______, and I play both the piano and the violin. I aspire to some day be a doctor, and my favorite subject is calculus. My mom and dad are tiger parents, who won't let me go to __________, but they make up for it by _______ my favorite meal every single day. Rice. And I'm a really bad driver. So my ________ for you now is, "How long did it take you to figure out I was ______?" (Laughter) As you've probably guessed, today I am going to talk about race and I'll start off by sharing with you my story of growing up Asian-American. I moved to the United States when I was two years old, so almost my entire life has been a blend of two cultures. I eat pasta with chopsticks. I'm addicted to orange chicken, and my childhood hero was Yao Ming. But having grown up in North Dakota, South ______, and Idaho, all states with incredible little ______ _________, it was difficult to reconcile my so-called exotic Chinese heritage with my mainstream American self. Used to being the only Asian in the room, I was self-conscious at the first thing people noticed about me was, that I wasn't white. And as a child I quickly began to realize that I had two options in _____ of me. Conformed to the stereotype that was ________ of me, or conformed to the whiteness that surrounded me. There was no in between. For me, this meant that I always felt self-conscious about being good at maths, because people would just say it was because I was Asian, not because I actually worked hard. It _____ that whenever a boy asked me out, it was because he had the ______ fever, and not because he actually liked me. It meant that for the longest time my identity had formed around the fact that I was different. And I thought that being _____ was the only special thing about me. These effects were emphasized by the places where I lived. Don't get me wrong. Only a _____ percentage of people were actually racist, or, even __________ racist, but the vast majority were just a little bit clueless. Now, I know you are probably thinking, "What's the difference?" Well, here is an example. Not racist can sound like, "I'm white and you're not." Racist can sound like, "I'm white, you're not, and that makes me better than you." But ________ sounds like, "I'm white, you're not, and I don't know how to deal with that." Now, I don't _____ for a second that these clueless people are still nice individuals with great intentions. But they do ask some questions that become ______ ________ after a while. Here are a few examples. "You're Chinese, oh my goodness, I have a Chinese friend, do you know him?" (________) "No. I don't know him. Because ________ to your unrealistic expectations, I do not know every ______ one of the 1.35 billion Chinese people who live on Planet Earth." People also tend to ask, "Where does your name come from?", and I really don't know how to answer that, so I usually stick with the truth. "My parents gave it to me. Where does your name come from?" (Laughter) Don't even get me started on how many _____ people have confused me with a different Asian person. One time someone came up to me and said, "Angie, I love your art work!" And I was super confused, so I just thanked them and walked away. But, out of all the questions my ________ one is still the classic, "Where are you from?", because I've lived in quite a few places, so this is how the conversation usually goes. "Where are you from?" "Oh, I am from Boise, Idaho." "I see, but where are you really from?" "I mean, I lived in South Dakota for a while." "Okay, what about before that?" "I mean, I lived in North Dakota." "Okay, I'm just going to cut straight to the _____ here, I guess what I'm saying is, have you ever lived anywhere far away from here, where people talk a little differently?" "Oh, I know where you talking about, yes I have, I used to live in Texas." (Laughter) By then, they usually have just given up and wonder to themselves why I'm not one of the cool ______ like Jeremy Lin or Jackie Chan, or they skip the needless banter and go ________ for the, "Where is your family from?" So, just an FYI for all of you out there, that is the safest strategy. But, as amusing as these interactions were, __________ they made me want to reject my own culture, because I thought it helped me conform. I distanced myself from the Asian __________ as much as possible, by degrading my own race, and pretending I hated math. And the worse part was, it ______. The more I rejected my Chinese identity, the more popular I became. My peers liked me more, because I was more similar to them. I became more _________, because I knew I was more similar to them. But as I became more Americanized, I also began to lose bits and pieces of myself, parts of me that I can never get back, and no matter how much I tried to _______ that I was the same as my American classmates, I wasn't. Because for people who have _____ in the places where I lived, _____ is the norm, and for me, white became the norm too. For my fourteenth ________, I received the video game The Sims 3, which lets you create your own __________ and control their lives. My fourteen-year-old self created the perfect little mainstream family, complete with a huge mansion and an enormous swimming pool. I binge-played the game for about three months, then put it away and never really thought about it again, until a few _____ ago, when I came to a sudden realization. The family, that I had custom-designed, was white. The _________ that I had ________ for myself, was white. Everyone I had designed was white. And the worst part was, this was by no means a _________ ________ that I had made. Never once did I think to myself that I could actually make the characters look like me. Without even thinking, white had become my norm too. The truth is, Asian Americans play a strange role in the American melting pot. We are the model minority. Society uses our _______ to pit us against other people of color as _____________ that racism doesn't exist. But was does that mean for us, Asian Americans? It means that we are not quite similar enough to be accepted, but we aren't different enough to be loathed. We are in a perpetually grey zone, and society isn't quite sure what to do with us. So they group us by the _____ of our skin. They tell us that we must reject our own _________, so we can fit in with the crowd. They tell us that our foreignness is the only identifying ______________ of us. They strip away our identities one by one, until we are _______, but not quite foreign, ________ but not quite American, individual, but only when there are no other people from our native _______ around. I wish that I had always had the courage to speak out about these ______. But coming from one culture that avoids confrontation, and another that is divided over race, how do I overcome the ________ to keep the peace, while also staying true to who I am? And as much as I hate to admit it, often times I don't speak out, because, if I do, it's at the the risk of being told that I am too _________, or that I get offended too ______, or that it's just not worth it. But I would point, are ______ willing to admit that? Yes, race issues are _____________. But that's precisely the reason why we need to talk about them. I just turned eighteen, and there are still so many things that I don't know about the world. But what I do know is that it's hard to admit that you might be part of the problem, that, all of us might be part of the problem. So, instead of giving you a step-by-step guide on how to not be ______ towards Asians, I will let you decide what to take from this talk. All I can do, is share my story. My name is Canwen, my favorite color is purple. And I play the piano, but not so much the violin. I have two incredibly supportive, hardworking parents, and one very _______ ten-year-old brother. I love calculus more than anything, despise eating rice, and I'm a __________ driver. But most of all, I am proud of who I am. A little bit American, a little bit Chinese, and a whole lot of both. Thank you. (Applause)

Solution

  1. canwen
  2. oftentimes
  3. decision
  4. white
  5. characteristic
  6. horrendous
  7. weeks
  8. expected
  9. doubt
  10. heritages
  11. confident
  12. sensitive
  13. character
  14. designed
  15. serving
  16. small
  17. dakota
  18. straight
  19. conscious
  20. country
  21. yellow
  22. single
  23. awesome
  24. times
  25. foreign
  26. people
  27. controversial
  28. favorite
  29. clueless
  30. racist
  31. success
  32. pretend
  33. diversity
  34. contrary
  35. justification
  36. asian
  37. joking
  38. annoying
  39. question
  40. pretty
  41. american
  42. worked
  43. racial
  44. characters
  45. birthday
  46. meant
  47. borderline
  48. stereotype
  49. pressure
  50. asians
  51. chase
  52. issues
  53. lived
  54. laughter
  55. sleepovers
  56. easily
  57. front
  58. color

Original Text

My name is Canwen, and I play both the piano and the violin. I aspire to some day be a doctor, and my favorite subject is calculus. My mom and dad are tiger parents, who won't let me go to sleepovers, but they make up for it by serving my favorite meal every single day. Rice. And I'm a really bad driver. So my question for you now is, "How long did it take you to figure out I was joking?" (Laughter) As you've probably guessed, today I am going to talk about race and I'll start off by sharing with you my story of growing up Asian-American. I moved to the United States when I was two years old, so almost my entire life has been a blend of two cultures. I eat pasta with chopsticks. I'm addicted to orange chicken, and my childhood hero was Yao Ming. But having grown up in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho, all states with incredible little racial diversity, it was difficult to reconcile my so-called exotic Chinese heritage with my mainstream American self. Used to being the only Asian in the room, I was self-conscious at the first thing people noticed about me was, that I wasn't white. And as a child I quickly began to realize that I had two options in front of me. Conformed to the stereotype that was expected of me, or conformed to the whiteness that surrounded me. There was no in between. For me, this meant that I always felt self-conscious about being good at maths, because people would just say it was because I was Asian, not because I actually worked hard. It meant that whenever a boy asked me out, it was because he had the yellow fever, and not because he actually liked me. It meant that for the longest time my identity had formed around the fact that I was different. And I thought that being Asian was the only special thing about me. These effects were emphasized by the places where I lived. Don't get me wrong. Only a small percentage of people were actually racist, or, even borderline racist, but the vast majority were just a little bit clueless. Now, I know you are probably thinking, "What's the difference?" Well, here is an example. Not racist can sound like, "I'm white and you're not." Racist can sound like, "I'm white, you're not, and that makes me better than you." But clueless sounds like, "I'm white, you're not, and I don't know how to deal with that." Now, I don't doubt for a second that these clueless people are still nice individuals with great intentions. But they do ask some questions that become pretty annoying after a while. Here are a few examples. "You're Chinese, oh my goodness, I have a Chinese friend, do you know him?" (Laughter) "No. I don't know him. Because contrary to your unrealistic expectations, I do not know every single one of the 1.35 billion Chinese people who live on Planet Earth." People also tend to ask, "Where does your name come from?", and I really don't know how to answer that, so I usually stick with the truth. "My parents gave it to me. Where does your name come from?" (Laughter) Don't even get me started on how many times people have confused me with a different Asian person. One time someone came up to me and said, "Angie, I love your art work!" And I was super confused, so I just thanked them and walked away. But, out of all the questions my favorite one is still the classic, "Where are you from?", because I've lived in quite a few places, so this is how the conversation usually goes. "Where are you from?" "Oh, I am from Boise, Idaho." "I see, but where are you really from?" "I mean, I lived in South Dakota for a while." "Okay, what about before that?" "I mean, I lived in North Dakota." "Okay, I'm just going to cut straight to the chase here, I guess what I'm saying is, have you ever lived anywhere far away from here, where people talk a little differently?" "Oh, I know where you talking about, yes I have, I used to live in Texas." (Laughter) By then, they usually have just given up and wonder to themselves why I'm not one of the cool Asians like Jeremy Lin or Jackie Chan, or they skip the needless banter and go straight for the, "Where is your family from?" So, just an FYI for all of you out there, that is the safest strategy. But, as amusing as these interactions were, oftentimes they made me want to reject my own culture, because I thought it helped me conform. I distanced myself from the Asian stereotype as much as possible, by degrading my own race, and pretending I hated math. And the worse part was, it worked. The more I rejected my Chinese identity, the more popular I became. My peers liked me more, because I was more similar to them. I became more confident, because I knew I was more similar to them. But as I became more Americanized, I also began to lose bits and pieces of myself, parts of me that I can never get back, and no matter how much I tried to pretend that I was the same as my American classmates, I wasn't. Because for people who have lived in the places where I lived, white is the norm, and for me, white became the norm too. For my fourteenth birthday, I received the video game The Sims 3, which lets you create your own characters and control their lives. My fourteen-year-old self created the perfect little mainstream family, complete with a huge mansion and an enormous swimming pool. I binge-played the game for about three months, then put it away and never really thought about it again, until a few weeks ago, when I came to a sudden realization. The family, that I had custom-designed, was white. The character that I had designed for myself, was white. Everyone I had designed was white. And the worst part was, this was by no means a conscious decision that I had made. Never once did I think to myself that I could actually make the characters look like me. Without even thinking, white had become my norm too. The truth is, Asian Americans play a strange role in the American melting pot. We are the model minority. Society uses our success to pit us against other people of color as justification that racism doesn't exist. But was does that mean for us, Asian Americans? It means that we are not quite similar enough to be accepted, but we aren't different enough to be loathed. We are in a perpetually grey zone, and society isn't quite sure what to do with us. So they group us by the color of our skin. They tell us that we must reject our own heritages, so we can fit in with the crowd. They tell us that our foreignness is the only identifying characteristic of us. They strip away our identities one by one, until we are foreign, but not quite foreign, American but not quite American, individual, but only when there are no other people from our native country around. I wish that I had always had the courage to speak out about these issues. But coming from one culture that avoids confrontation, and another that is divided over race, how do I overcome the pressure to keep the peace, while also staying true to who I am? And as much as I hate to admit it, often times I don't speak out, because, if I do, it's at the the risk of being told that I am too sensitive, or that I get offended too easily, or that it's just not worth it. But I would point, are people willing to admit that? Yes, race issues are controversial. But that's precisely the reason why we need to talk about them. I just turned eighteen, and there are still so many things that I don't know about the world. But what I do know is that it's hard to admit that you might be part of the problem, that, all of us might be part of the problem. So, instead of giving you a step-by-step guide on how to not be racist towards Asians, I will let you decide what to take from this talk. All I can do, is share my story. My name is Canwen, my favorite color is purple. And I play the piano, but not so much the violin. I have two incredibly supportive, hardworking parents, and one very awesome ten-year-old brother. I love calculus more than anything, despise eating rice, and I'm a horrendous driver. But most of all, I am proud of who I am. A little bit American, a little bit Chinese, and a whole lot of both. Thank you. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

Important Words

  1. accepted
  2. addicted
  3. admit
  4. american
  5. americanized
  6. americans
  7. amusing
  8. annoying
  9. answer
  10. applause
  11. art
  12. asian
  13. asians
  14. asked
  15. aspire
  16. avoids
  17. awesome
  18. bad
  19. banter
  20. began
  21. billion
  22. birthday
  23. bit
  24. bits
  25. blend
  26. boise
  27. borderline
  28. boy
  29. brother
  30. calculus
  31. canwen
  32. chan
  33. character
  34. characteristic
  35. characters
  36. chase
  37. chicken
  38. child
  39. childhood
  40. chinese
  41. chopsticks
  42. classic
  43. classmates
  44. clueless
  45. color
  46. coming
  47. complete
  48. confident
  49. conform
  50. conformed
  51. confrontation
  52. confused
  53. conscious
  54. contrary
  55. control
  56. controversial
  57. conversation
  58. cool
  59. country
  60. courage
  61. create
  62. created
  63. crowd
  64. culture
  65. cultures
  66. cut
  67. dad
  68. dakota
  69. day
  70. deal
  71. decide
  72. decision
  73. degrading
  74. designed
  75. despise
  76. difference
  77. differently
  78. difficult
  79. distanced
  80. diversity
  81. divided
  82. doctor
  83. doubt
  84. driver
  85. earth
  86. easily
  87. eat
  88. eating
  89. effects
  90. eighteen
  91. emphasized
  92. enormous
  93. entire
  94. examples
  95. exist
  96. exotic
  97. expectations
  98. expected
  99. fact
  100. family
  101. favorite
  102. felt
  103. fever
  104. figure
  105. fit
  106. foreign
  107. foreignness
  108. formed
  109. fourteenth
  110. friend
  111. front
  112. fyi
  113. game
  114. gave
  115. giving
  116. good
  117. goodness
  118. great
  119. grey
  120. group
  121. growing
  122. grown
  123. guess
  124. guessed
  125. guide
  126. hard
  127. hardworking
  128. hate
  129. hated
  130. helped
  131. heritage
  132. heritages
  133. hero
  134. horrendous
  135. huge
  136. idaho
  137. identifying
  138. identities
  139. identity
  140. incredible
  141. incredibly
  142. individual
  143. individuals
  144. intentions
  145. interactions
  146. issues
  147. jackie
  148. jeremy
  149. joking
  150. justification
  151. knew
  152. laughter
  153. lets
  154. life
  155. lin
  156. live
  157. lived
  158. lives
  159. loathed
  160. long
  161. longest
  162. lose
  163. lot
  164. love
  165. mainstream
  166. majority
  167. mansion
  168. math
  169. maths
  170. matter
  171. meal
  172. means
  173. meant
  174. melting
  175. ming
  176. minority
  177. model
  178. mom
  179. months
  180. moved
  181. native
  182. needless
  183. nice
  184. norm
  185. north
  186. noticed
  187. offended
  188. oftentimes
  189. options
  190. orange
  191. overcome
  192. parents
  193. part
  194. parts
  195. pasta
  196. peace
  197. peers
  198. people
  199. percentage
  200. perfect
  201. perpetually
  202. person
  203. piano
  204. pieces
  205. pit
  206. places
  207. planet
  208. play
  209. point
  210. pool
  211. popular
  212. pot
  213. precisely
  214. pressure
  215. pretend
  216. pretending
  217. pretty
  218. problem
  219. proud
  220. purple
  221. put
  222. question
  223. questions
  224. quickly
  225. race
  226. racial
  227. racism
  228. racist
  229. realization
  230. realize
  231. reason
  232. received
  233. reconcile
  234. reject
  235. rejected
  236. rice
  237. risk
  238. role
  239. room
  240. safest
  241. sensitive
  242. serving
  243. share
  244. sharing
  245. similar
  246. sims
  247. single
  248. skin
  249. skip
  250. sleepovers
  251. small
  252. society
  253. sound
  254. sounds
  255. south
  256. speak
  257. special
  258. start
  259. started
  260. states
  261. staying
  262. stereotype
  263. stick
  264. story
  265. straight
  266. strange
  267. strategy
  268. strip
  269. subject
  270. success
  271. sudden
  272. super
  273. supportive
  274. surrounded
  275. swimming
  276. talk
  277. talking
  278. tend
  279. texas
  280. thanked
  281. thinking
  282. thought
  283. tiger
  284. time
  285. times
  286. today
  287. told
  288. true
  289. truth
  290. turned
  291. united
  292. unrealistic
  293. vast
  294. video
  295. violin
  296. walked
  297. weeks
  298. white
  299. whiteness
  300. worked
  301. world
  302. worse
  303. worst
  304. worth
  305. wrong
  306. yao
  307. years
  308. yellow
  309. zone