When I was 7 years old I decided I wanted to be a White American boy. I grew up in the working class suburb of South San Francisco. A lot of people think that when I say South San Francisco I mean the southern edge of the city of San Francisco. That is very much not the case as anyone from the San Francisco will attest. South City (pronounced Sow-City) as we locals call it was an Industrial town dominated by paper mills and chemical factories manned by working class Italian and Irish families. So-City in the 80s was a very different place than it is today, we were the only Asian family on the block and I was often ridiculed and taunted by local boys.
It was in those moments of weakness and misguided dreams that I decided to be White. The first order of business was to stop eating Chinese food and all Asian food for that matter. When my family would go out to our weekly Chinese food dinner, I would refuse to eat and would insist that my mom and dad went to McDonalds to pick me up a hamburger and would ignore the Chow Mein and steamed fish. I would speak English loudly and clearly in front of White people so they knew that I was a White American boy disguised as an Asian Boy. I rejected the Asian Markets my mom would enter and look away from the Chinese immigrants walking the streets shaking my head wondering why they did not learn English and blaming them for my mistreatment.
This obsession with converting over to the White race ended within a year or so but haunted me till college when finally truly embraced my Asian heritage. But till this day I muse about what my life would be if I were a White man.
If I were a White man I would feel secure every morning looking in the mirror knowing that today was going to be a good day, I will not be judged by the color of my skin.
If I were a White man I would not fear the police, I would call them and embrace them knowing that they are good men here to protect and serve my community.
If I were a White man I would speak up in a meeting and people would listen to me, they would think, hey this guy is really bright he has a lot of great ideas.
If I were a White man I would go to a restaurant and when I’m not seated I would not wonder if they did that because of my race.
If I were a White man, women would look at me and think here’s a handsome man, let me give him a chance, he seems so masculine and tall.
If I were a White man I could be a Republican and look down on minorities for their failure to assimilate and learn English. I would pride myself on my hard work and pulling myself up from my bootstraps, I didn’t get any handouts. Hard work and dedication is all it takes to succeed in this country. Oh man that would feel so great.
If I were a White man people would love me, they would see me for my virtues not my skin color.
I think that’s enough imagination for now. It felt really great for a moment to feel white. I think about it a lot, I think all minorities do. That’s the really odd thing about the white people I talk to about race. They just don't think about at all. They don’t see race, it’s so crazy to me. But I guess that’s the biggest advantage of being in the majority, it’s a privilege to not see race.
Now that I have a son of my own I wonder if he’ll have to go though the same self-hatred that I experienced as a youth. I really don’t think so, I’m optimistic that this world has changed in the last 30 years and that my son will hopefully not see race either.