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1st Place - “Little Asian Girl in the White Boys’ Club” by Isabella Chow

The topic of race and gender is divisive in today’s political climate. On one hand, some claim that color doesn’t really matter – that we’re all the same. While this may be true, failing to acknowledge and invite ethnic and cultural diversity can create a homogenous culture that perpetuates longstanding stereotypes and raises barriers to entry for minorities.

On the other hand, some claim that color is the primary distinguishing factor between people – some call “identity politics.” While this may be true, overemphasizing the ** can create an artificial hierarchy based on historical stereotypes that perpetuates the victim mentality and inflames longstanding hostilities between peoples.

Since I lean center-right politically, the conferences I attend and organizations I associate with tend to fall into the first camp. I have no doubt that leaders in these organizations fully believe in racial equality and see each individual as fully worthy of respect and dignity, regardless of skin color. However, it’s still hard to ignore the obvious: that I am usually one of the few minorities present in the room.

Last weekend, I attended one such conference, comprised primarily of white, Christian conservatives. Although I loved and admired the people that I met, it was still hard not to feel out of place at times in a predominantly white culture. After trying in vain to process and wrestle with my thoughts and emotions in bed, I finally turned the lights back on at 1am and penned this poem.

My hope in sharing this poem twofold: first, that conservative organizations would broach the topic of cultural diversity more openly and more intentionally reach out to minorities and women; second, that the Asian-Americans and other minorities would support and encourage leaders who desire to serve their communities in the political world. I am thankful for role models (minority or not) who have blazed a path for aspiring leaders like me, and I hope that my children will be able to look up to leaders who truly represent the breadth and depth of America’s melting pot.


"Little Asian Girl in the White Boys’ Club"

“Middle school?” My Uber driver asks “Graduated from college,” I laugh “Oh…. Looking young is a good thing” *thanks for the compliment? Hi. I’m just a little Asian girl Trying to navigate your big round world Can I talk like you talk? Can I dress like you dress? Can I think like you think? But yet. I look different Yeah I guess all people are the same And you say not to judge by the skin And that color doesn’t matter? We all equal, after all I used to think that way But you see, I was living with people that looked like me People that talked like me People that thought like me My world was diverse But it was still a bubble Now that I’ve stepped into your world I realize that I had my bubble And in a strange sort of way I’ve had the opportunity to step into yours But do you realize that your world is a bubble? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, I’m not supposed to talk about race. Because we’re all the same. Equal, under God. Out of many, one. For many years I thought that color didn’t matter I would’ve agreed with you But when I step into your world, something feels different Something feels off All the white boys in the room With their pretty white wives And their dangly earrings and pointy toed heels It’s so different. Because by saying that race doesn’t matter, it sometimes feels like you’re pretending not to notice my difference But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it. Your food is different Your talk is different Your walk is different Everyone looks different from me. And yet we’re all the same? Is that bad? No. And I have a lot to learn, I guess. But can we stop pretending that I’m the same? Can we point out the elephant in the room – that I’m the only one here with yellow skin and squinty eyes? That, if you listen carefully, I still have traces of my mom’s accent that my high school speech coach could never fully eliminate? Yeah, yeah. Color doesn’t matter. But why do I feel so different? Why do I feel so insignificant? What is this angst and why can’t I explain this to anyone? I’ve tried to assimilate I’ve tried to learn But sometimes, just sometimes, I really miss home. One time I was telling a friend about the Thai curry I made for my friends I was really proud The curry reminded me of home And of my momma’s cooking But a few hours later We discussed the menu for a formal political dinner that we’d host For Very Important Guests And you briefly remarked that we should make food that everyone would like “For example, not everyone would like Thai curry” Excuse me? How can anyone dislike creamy Thai curry over steaming white rice? Felt like my heart was stabbed But then I remembered I was in your world, not mine It’s not your fault that Very Important Guests don’t like Thai curry It’s not your fault that Very Important Guests are generally white males Your world is different. And I chose to come here. But. I miss my bubble. It’s hard trying to understand your culture and fit in If I’m having a hard time, think of how my immigrant parents would fare if you threw them here Think of how my immigrant friends back home would feel Maybe that’s why it’s hard for us to break into your world. We’re so different, and your culture already has all the answers to society’s problems. Or at least you claim to. I get you. I, too, believe in Jesus I, too, believe that the Bible holds answers for everyone And you know what? That means we’re brothers and sisters And in a very real sense I have more in common with you than I do with people who look the same on the outside but are so different on the inside People say it’s the inside that matters But could the outside matter too? I’m an immigrant to your world Don’t get me wrong I want to stay here But what if you asked me about mine? Maybe, just maybe, we could start talking about how to reach out to my culture? Not just to convert them Not just to win votes But to understand them And to include them To show them that you really care? That your words are not just fluff? To build bridges To build trust To build relationships Maybe it’ll take humility, I know I’ve already had to lay down my pride in seeking to understand your world But, you see, the minority always has to understand the majority Because otherwise we’d die What if, for once, the majority sought to understand the minority? In many ways I’m a trailblazer, I know But might I hope that there will be more little Asian girls who dare to step into your big white world? And might I hope that it’ll be slightly easier for them, just as coming here was easier for me than the generation before me? And while we’re at it, what about including the Hispanics, the Arabs, the Blacks, the Native Americans? I’ve tried to understand your world But I would also like to show you mine too It’s a little different You don’t have to like my food, but it’ll mean a lot to me if you try it You don’t even have to use chopsticks – Chinese food with forks is fine. Oh, and can I show you my grandma’s painting? And my grandpa’s abacus? I grew up learning about American history And don’t get me wrong, I’m super proud to be an American Super proud. But I remember somewhere that my history textbook called America a “melting pot” Shouldn’t we learn about all the ingredients that went into the pot? Even the little spices? There’s a risk that we’ll make your world less white But at least our world will be a little more colorful? Is that bad?


Isabella competed in Stoa from 2012 to 2016 with Legacy Speech Club and Clash Debate, placing 7th in the nation her final year. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, Isabella spent a gap semester at the John Jay Institute in Pennsylvania, where she studied history, philosophy, and political theory from a Christian perspective with a tight-knit cohort of 8 students. She is now working at her second post-college job as a Sales Strategy & Analytics Associate with Gainsight, a software company.

The views expressed in pieces written by guest authors are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Stoa or the Stoa Alumni Committee.


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