Picture Perfect: IxN 2017

Picture Perfect: IxN 2017


What’s your name, grade, and what stereotypes or labels are often assigned to you? My name is Nyna Velamuri. My name is Selena. I’m Aayush Shah. Currently a Freshman. I’m a Sophomore. I’m a Junior. Currently a Twelfth grader. Overachieving, studious, quiet Asian girl, that definitely is a stereotype. I’m just your typical Asian student. Typical guy. Just a typical Asian guy. I mean, there’s like a plethora of Asian males that exist here, I mean, I don’t know how they would perceive me any differently. Being Indian, it comes with it that you’re good at math, or science, or you’re not really into athletics as much as academics. I think a lot of people think I’m weak because I’m brown. I don’t know who I am because I don’t take enough time to think about it and stuff And I kind of identify myself more by what people see me as than what I actually think I am. In reality, I am so much more than that, and if you can’t see that, than I do not care. [Laughter] There’s definitely a lot of stereotypes that go around being White at Lynbrook. If you saw me versus maybe like an Asian person sitting side by side in a classroom, you’d probably default to that person as being automatically smarter than me, which means I always have to prove myself. I think for White students, it can be challenging if you’re interacting with someone and then you can feel like you’re being looked down upon. I think it really hurt my self-esteem, and I think it really hurts the way I interact with people for the first time because all I’m thinking about is ‘ugh, they probably hate me, they probably don’t know anything about me, they probably think I’m stupid,’ There’s a stereotype that men are better at science than women They were like, ‘oh you should work on the design of the presentation instead of helping us with the concept of science,’ So, a lot of the time I felt like my opinions were being disrespected because I was a girl or that, as a girl I should be expected to work harder than most of the boys because I need to make up for the fact that I’m a girl. I think that when people already have very high expectations about you, their opinion of you even if you haven’t ever had personal encounters with before, always starts out very positive. I think the negative is that sometimes I, sometimes I feel like I am confined, or trapped, in this very high-achieving image. Sometimes, a lot of people see me as smart, and I think a lot of the time that is the only thing people will see me as. So, I kind of feel like I have to live up to that expectation. There are a lot of expectations, not only like academic wise, but like how you’re supposed to look. Like it’s a big thing for my mom. She’s like, ‘you’re too tan you need to like become lighter. You’re too dark. Or, you need to lose weight, you need to become skinnier,’ It’s kind of, it’s really difficult. I think there’s like, some kind of culture of anti-gayness. There’s like almost like a curiosity, but also like a fear. People are like, ‘hey, I don’t think being gay is a bad thing,’ but then they also like super scared of being identified as gay. I usually hear like guys making jokes about people who don’t fit into the gender binary and I hear people making jokes about gay people, and I think because of that people don’t see this as a safe place. If I am surrounded in like Lynbrook for example, or the Bay Area, then The Asian part of me it’s like not even a stereotype, right. If I step out, then I feel like that does play into how people view me. We visited my cousin, he lives in Texas, he goes to college there, and you go like in that area, you go to the subway or whatever, you stop for lunch, people looking at differently than they do here. I always noticed that when I was little, if I go to airports, if I go to the mall, I would purposely try to seem not Asian. Just so that I didn’t have to deal with any possible dirty looks. When I started to like be really fluent in English, and like, kind of like forget my Korean, it would almost be something I was proud of in a sense, that like, ‘oh look how I’m forgetting my Korean, I’m not even Korean anymore,’ In Eighth or Ninth grade, when i started to really go like, ‘hey, there’s really nothing wrong with monolids, there’s nothing wrong with my skin color, and there’s only pride from what I can get from that heritage,’ I started to speak Chinese more with my parents. I would purposely try to speak my broken Chinese to get it better. Being somewhere else, other than the Bay Area, where there’s not a lot of people that speak that language there’s definitely like a like you feel you feel a little uneasy. I don’t have to worry about somebody hearing me speak Russian, or somebody hearing me obviously speak English, with other people, and I know that other cultures maybe you speak Mandarin, maybe there is a reason as to why you don’t want to speak that in public, but me, as like a White person, or a European person, I have never had to worry about that fear. [Interviewer] How would you all describe the Lynbrook student body’s attitude towards social issues? Whew! People don’t really talk about it. We don’t really talk about it much, and I think that should be changed because it’s a good discussion to have. I think that overall, we are very socially liberal. But I don’t know if that’s a purposeful and deliberate social liberal, or if it is because it’s where we come from, and it’s because of just how we’ve been raised. So, I feel like a lot of Lynbrook students, when it comes to people of different sexual orientations, or different backgrounds that they are not super used to, identities they aren’t used to, we’re excepting, but we don’t go out of our way to be welcoming. I also don’t feel like we do enough to be a community that has it’s arms open to welcome a lot of diversity to our community. I think that Lynbrook is very idealistic, we want, we are “liberal,” and we want to be open about topics like mental illness, gender, sexuality, race, but we’re not as open as we think we are, or as we hope to be. And I think that’s something that we can’t just dream about, we have to actively take action. Based on what I’ve seen personally, I think that people do care, and I think that people here are intelligent and smart, but a lot of the times they don’t speak up to say anything about it. They like scroll past a BuzzFeed article, and are like, ‘oh my God, that sucks,’ but like, they don’t do anything past that, they don’t actually use that to create any kind of activism. We very rarely take time to stop and think about how we perceive other people, and I think that if we were more purposeful and more conscious of that, it would bring about a much more welcoming environment. With Intersections, and this project, you guys are actively finding people to speak out, and you’re encouraging people to talk about their experiences, I think that’s what people need to do more, because we’re really, we’re thinking about it, and we might be suggesting, you know ideas on Social Media, Snap Chat, but we actually have to reach out, talk to our friends about it. It just like, it’s really great that this is becoming an issue at school that is going to be helped. I’m actually, I’m really glad I’m a freshman who is going to be able to see this club prosper. Honestly, like this club is great, okay? It honestly encompasses everything that I feel about Lynbrook. It’s so welcoming, and it’s really good about talking about issues like these. Intersections is a great way to get started, so thanks, guys. [Laughter] [Interviewer] Love you, Shubhra. [Shubhra] Am I done? [Interviewer] Yeah. Yeah, hey, that’s pretty good. [Laughter] Um, I’d say I’m like a normal person, and that’s a good description of my personality. 2019, woo! Wait a second, I need to think about this. What else was I going to say? [Phone rings] [Interviewer] Oh, shoot. [Laughter] [Laughter] Sorry!

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