Bri’s Story

A little bit about Bri:

My name is Bri, and I’m a 17 year old Asian/White American. I’m from the small state of Iowa (if any of you know where that is, it’s midwest). Anyways, I grew up in a regular size town then moved to a very small rural school when I was 9 and stayed there until I was 15. During the summer after my freshman year of high school I moved again, but this time it was to a populated, suburban (mostly wealthy and white) town. Right now, I’m about to start my senior year of high school.

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Growing up biracial:

My name is Bri, and I’m a 17 year old Asian/White American. I’m from the small state of Iowa (if any of you know where that is, it’s midwest). Anyways, I grew up in a regular size town then moved to a very small rural school when I was 9 and stayed there until I was 15. During the summer after my freshman year of high school I moved again, but this time it was to a populated, suburban (mostly wealthy and white) town. Right now, I’m about to start my senior year of high school.
I want to touch a little on the environment I’m currently in before I launch into my history and life. The town I live in currently is near 60,000 people who live here (pretty big for the state of Iowa if you don’t live directly in a city). As a suburban area, compared to the diversity of cities, the people who live here are generally on the higher end of the middle class and mostly white (my high school is 90% white with 1,200 students). This is just to show you all how much diversity I am actually exposed to.
Anyways, my background. My mom originally hails from Thailand, she moved here when she was about 13 years old or so. She grew up in a big family of 10 kids, so big that an older brother of hers passed away when she was just an infant. Her family fled to the United States during the Vietnam War. My grandfather worked for the U.S. government, and being targeted for giving the U.S. intelligence, the whole family was forced to move overnight to seek refuge. My mother and her family then began their lives as refugees of war now given a home in the state of Iowa. My father, on the other hand, was born and raised in Iowa and a brother to 4 sisters. So, I’m half Thai and half white.
Now, back to my life. The small rural school I used to attend was very, if not completely, conservative. The town was surrounded by miles of cornfields and soybean fields, many guys I knew planned on being farmers when they grew older and many of the girls were content with being a farmer’s wife. I’ve never been a small town girl, I always craved the hustle and bustle of cities. For the most part, I tolerated everyone’s conservative views because I figured there was nothing I could do to sway their minds, which is sometimes true. Now that I live in a much bigger town with a lot more people in my school, more share my liberal views, but it’s still not great. There’s always going to be conservative people I know, but there are many more liberals out there that I see. There’s still “discreet” racism, as I like to call it, from many around me and even a few of my friends at some times. People I see daily aren’t familiar with other races or different sexual orientations or genders that aren’t the “norm” around here. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard slurs about people of color (including myself) or the LGBTQ+ community. My friends have openly said things to me like “I just can’t picture your parents together” not trying insult me or mentioning/seeing ANYTHING Asian and immediately connecting it to me (which is so annoying). If people have to look at someone in fears that what they’ve said or done has been even slightly offensive, maybe it shouldn’t be said. The moral of the story here is, people are still uneducated and not willing to understand anything about diversity. As “progressive” a nation we are, we’ve barely made any gains.

What diversity means to Bri:

Diversity, to me, is just understanding and appreciating lifestyles and cultures and customs of those who are different from you. I will forever be grateful for the United States accepting my mother’s family here and giving them a safe place to call their home, but I would be ignorant to believe that this country doesn’t have problems that need to be fixed. I owe my life to this country accepting refugees, I wouldn’t be here (nor would my mother’s whole family) if they hadn’t. It’s precisely this that we should continue to accept refugees from war torn countries. America has the opportunity to change and save so many lives, yet we aren’t, we’re turning people away based on race and religion.
I’ve had the luxury of being raised in a household with loving, liberal parents and where I could learn the issues with diversity in this country. There’s still a lot of people, so many people, who haven’t been opened up to anything other than their small, white communities. Like there’s people who will never change their views, there’s also people who change and grow if they’re just exposed to things. I knew a guy who used to be one of my closest friends that was homophobic and “discreetly” racist when we were growing up, but he’s changed his views based on the people he surrounded himself with and the information he was exposed to. I used to tell myself when I was younger in the couple years before starting high school that there was nothing I could do to sway people’s minds, but I was wrong. Some people will never change, but it’s our job as humans to stand our ground and call out injustices we see in the world.
I was a quiet, relatively reserved person who just dealt with what people said, but I shouldn’t have been. I could’ve, and should’ve, said a lot more when I’d been given the chance but I didn’t. I used to hate when people called me “triggered” or “overdramatic” when I’d get worked up about things, but I don’t care anymore. There are serious issues in our society, starting with diversity is just the beginning. How can we expect to grow as a nation if we aren’t willing to accept the people who live in it? If I’m angry about what’s going on in society, I have a right to be angry. If I’m angry about what’s happening on the news, there’s most definitely a justifiable reason as to why I am. Diversity is so important to me, half of my history is Asian. I’m tired of Asians, along with other races, being pushed aside and not acknowledged as if we don’t exist in this nation. Diversity doesn’t make a country bad, it’s those who aren’t willing to understand it that make it bad. It’s time minorities are given the recognition they deserve. Just because they make up a smaller part of the whole doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s our duty to keep growing as people and keep our minds open so we can change the prejudices that still carry on and fix them.

I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is. 

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