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December 13, 2019
Senior Araceli Carreon is a proud Filipino-American, yet feels the stereotypes that come along with being a part of one of the smallest minorities on campus.
While the Philippines is in Asia, Carreon struggles to call herself Asian because of the differences in culture and the stereotypes she experiences. Many Americans’ idea of Asian people and culture is East Asian, countries like China, Japan, and Korea, all of which have distinct cultures that are very different than the Philippines.
Yet, despite the differences, Carreon identifies as Asian and wishes the Asian American students at SJHHS had a stronger and more unified community.
“In general, comparing the Asian communities to other minorities, we’re not as unified. I feel like people have an idea that it’s like one big monolith. The stereotypes for Asians are very rigid. You have slanted eyes, usually associated with a pale face, and I think that mindset makes Asian Americans see our differences more. We don’t see the similarities we have,” Carreon said.
Carreon struggles with the “model minority” stereotype that Asian Americans have. While many feel that the stereotype of Asians being “smart” is harmless, or even positive, it puts an entire race of people in a box that’s hard to escape.
“At school, once people realize that I am Asian, they’ll attribute my grades to me being the Asian stereotype. But once I’m outside, people will mistake my race for something else, and they’ll associate me with stereotypes associated with darker-skinned people. When I volunteer at food drives, other volunteers often mistake me for one of the low-income people who they help out,” said Carreon.
Due to The Philippines’ complicated history, it has many different influences that inspire Carreon. While the evils of colonialism from Spain and Japan, along with American imperialism, still cause issues such as poverty, racist beauty standards, subjugation of Fillipino workers, and other problems that plague the country, the Asian, native, and Spanish influence create a blend of cultures unique to the Philippines.
The Filipino experience is that you’re not 100% this, or 100% that…and I guess that’s the comfort I find in it, as a Filipino-American
— Araceli Carreon
“To be honest, I feel like Fillipino culture is more of a melting pot than you could argue America is. Because even though there are a lot of people from different demographics in America, when it comes to the culture itself, I would say that different cultures are integrated more in the Philippines,” said Carreon.
Carreon’s parents are immigrants, and she has family in the Philippines that she sometimes feels disconnected from due to her American upbringing.
“My cousins are nice to me of course, but there’s definitely some kind of difference in how they treat me. They think I’m too soft because I didn’t grow up in the hardships of the Philippines, and it kind of hurts. I know I’m very lucky to have grown up here, but at the same time there are individual struggles that come with being a minority…and then you come back to the people who should be the place where you find solace, then you get that sense where they don’t completely accept you either,” said Carreon.
While representation in media for Asians is increasing, Carreon feels that the representation for Filipinos is slower coming.
“I want to say it’s getting better. But people have this idea that I’ll immediately feel represented by Japanese, Chinese, or Korean characters. Yes, I’m happy for my fellow Asians, but it’s not the same as getting real Fillipino characters,” Carreon said.
Carreon finds comfort in the fact that while she is from two cultures, the culture of the Philippines itself was born out of many cultures.
“I guess that is the Fillipino experience. The Filipino experience is that you’re not 100% this, or 100% that…and I guess that’s the comfort I find in it, as a Filipino-American. Even though I feel different from America and the Philippines, the idea that inherently the Philippines is something that isn’t one thing on it’s own, that it’s a party of different cultures, that also gives me something I can connect to,” Carreon said.