The Double Standard of Diversity in California

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After growing up in Utah, living in Southern California for three years has given me a different perspective of the United States.

For one, white is no longer the majority in California (at least, in the big cities anyway).  Almost all of the friends I’ve made here are either Hispanic, Asian, Arabic or Black.  In fact, I’m sometimes hard pressed to find a white person here and it’s a great thing.  As someone studying international affairs on a professional level, diversity warms my heart and it makes for a very interesting place.  Now, after three years in diverse Southern California, I’m dumbfounded by how white dominated Utah is every time I return.

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The Ethnicity Question

The Dreaded Ethnicity Box

The Dreaded Ethnicity Box

After years of being uninsured in the U.S. (and a few more years of having third-world equivalent healthcare in China), I finally received fully covered health benefits through my new job.  In fear of medical bills and non-preventative coverage, I went years without a standard check-up.  When I got my shiny new insurance card, I booked the first appointment I could to get tested for–well, everything.  After all, I was fully covered.

“It looks like your application is incomplete, Ms. Mary O’Connor,” the secretary smiled sweetly.  “You’ll need to answer a couple of quick questions before you can see the doctor.”

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Being Half Asian in China and Japan

Most people are stunned to find out that I’m half Asian half white.  They’re even more stunned to find out I’m not half Japanese or even Chinese:  I’m half Vietnamese (I know, I don’t look Vietnamese at all).

And I’m not only white–my father is 100% Irish.  So I’m a complete 50/50 split of two very different cultures.

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Being a Halfie in the USA

In my hometown (a very small town in Utah) my mom was the only Asian person in town, making my brother and I the only Asians in the school.  Despite how un-Asian I look, I was constantly teased for being a “gook” or a “chink” and never a moment went by where I wasn’t racially profiled.  Me liking Japan didn’t really help improve the situation,  so memories of people yelling “hey ching chong wong” and other such uncultured insults are still a very fresh memory today.

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