I’ve been listening to “Asian Enough,” an Asian-American podcast hosted by Jen Yamato and Frank Shyong. At the end of each episode, the hosts asked their guest to share a bad Asian confession. In the bonus episode about the Coronavirus, the L.A. Times health reporter Soumya Karlamangla confessed that she doesn’t speak her native language. Yamato and Shyong shared her sentiment. They don’t speak their native language either. I don’t have that issue because I can speak, read, and write Vietnamese. In the past few years, I have read voraciously and practiced writing my native language. I am proud to say that my Vietnamese is as good or as bad as my English.
The concept of a bad Asian confession intrigued me; therefore, I gave it some thought. I was not sure if I should reveal it, but it was part of my past. I hope I won’t get in trouble. Here’s my confession. In my sophomore year in high school, I dated a white girl briefly. She was sweet, smart, and slightly shy. What attracted me to her was her writing. We took an English class together over the summer and she helped proofread all of my papers. My English grammar and my writing were terrible. I composed my English sentences by translating what I wanted to say in Vietnamese. I was ashamed of my own writing, but she encouraged me to write. She also helped me write to colleges to request information and application.
Our relationship developed after a few months. One day, I came to her house to pick her up to go to a movie. I was excited and nervous. When I came to the door, her father greeted me, but he didn’t look too happy. I said hello and held out my hand. He shook my hand, but I had a feeling he didn’t like this Asian guy dating his daughter. I talked to her about it after we went to the movie and she assured me that it didn’t matter how he felt about me. It only mattered how she felt about me. He’ll have to get over it.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get over it. A few weeks later, I wrote her a letter expressing how I felt and wanted to end our relationship. She wrote back with anger and disappointment. She ended the letter with, “I guess I am just another white girl.” That line still haunts me today. I let her down. I made a really bad judgement. I overacted. I am sorry. I fucked up.