The Innocence of Yesterday

The Innocence of Yesterday

Length: 1425 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Innocence of Yesterday


When my dad sees a black person, he always says, black dude. He says it with a bitter taste in his mouth. He utters it to me as if to make sure that I take note that the person is black and therefore also a dude. There is no purpose in his saying this, yet he says it without concern for what it reveals about his racial attitudes. Or rather he does not care what others think of his stereotypes. He may be the only person I know who speaks his mind so recklessly, but stereotypes are pervasive throughout society. All of us attach images and experiences to people we have never met. When I was a child, I absorbed negative views on every race and culture. Hispanics are lazy. Jews are untrustworthy. Blacks are inferior. Indians are dirty. Asians are cheap. When I discovered that I was Asian, I did not know what to think about that.

Until elementary school, I did not notice the color of my skin. I, like everyone else I knew, was colorblind. The notion of race did not exist. My friends had brown, blonde, and black hair, and mine was black, too. Straight, poofy, and always gelled to a gleam, my hair should have tipped me off that I was not like everyone else. I assumed that everyone in my family just happened to be born with abnormal hair. There was no reason to think that my friends at school were different from the miniature community of my home.

Before school, my mind was innocent of discrimination. I cannot recall one moment where I looked at a person of color and thought of a racist stereotype. I was in a protected state of naive bliss, unaware that the fragile shelter of my colorblindness was soon to collapse. Discrimination forced itself into my life.

I remember the first time I felt discrimination. It caused my chest to ache. I was seven, and one of my friends put his index fingers on the corners of his eyes and tugged outwards. He said, "hey Dexter, look. I'm you." I laughed at first. Then the little gears in my head clicked into place, and I stopped. I turned to the mirror behind me and gasped in disbelief. Almond-shaped eyes stared back. It was true.

I looked around me, and almost all the kids were white.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Innocence of Yesterday." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Apr 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=34313>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Nineteen : The Age Of Innocence Essays

- Thirteen: the age of innocence. You begin to gain trust and independence. It is the beginning of your teenage years and all you would like to do is hang out with friends, get the new popular cell phone, or have your curfew extended. For me, this wasn’t the case. What was supposed to be the most joyous time in life was actually my hardest. One of my favorite people in this entire world had been taken too soon. I remember it as if it was yesterday. The Friday before, I had been called out of class early....   [tags: Family, 2007 singles, Tears]

Research Papers
927 words (2.6 pages)

Witchcraft: Yesterday and Today Essay example

- Everyone knows about the Salem Witch Trials, but what about the Lancashire Witches, or even ones happening today. All throughout history, people have been put in jail and hanged for being accused of witchcraft. The reasons for why people are accused are almost the same for each trial; bad luck in love or crops, death, illnesses, suspicion, even someone that is of a different race or is different in the slightest way is enough to get people worldwide turn to witchcraft as the answer. The infamous Salem Witch Trials took place from 1692-1693 in Salem Village, present day Danvers, Massachusetts....   [tags: Salem Witch Trials, Lancashire Witches]

Research Papers
1750 words (5 pages)

Essay on My Second Visit to Disneyland

- “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy,” I read as I passed through the gates of what seemed to me, at the time, a place full of deception, corruption and lost dreams. Little did I know, the place would become a staple in my life when I needed to restore my sense of feeling perfectly content. When I visited Disneyland in 2011, ten years after my first visit, all my prejudices of a brainwashing corporation faded away. Instead, I realized this very place was full of enough dreams and magic to lift a brooding teen from a temper tantrum into a state of contentment....   [tags: magic, mood, innocence]

Research Papers
537 words (1.5 pages)

Relationships in Wharton's The Age of Innocence Essays

- Newland Archer desires to be a free soul in old New York, differing from those around him. May Welland’s actions and naivety help Newland realize he wants to break away from the norm of society. Ellen Olenska arrives in New York to stay with family during her divorce with a Polish Count. Ellen and Newland are formally introduced by May, beginning Ellen and Newland’s odious relationship. Ellen offers a fresh change to Newland’s monotonous lifestyle; she shows Newland the excitement of going against the moral code....   [tags: The Age of Innocence]

Research Papers
1265 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on The Age Of Innocence By Edith Wharton

- With success, modern day culture has taken strides in illuminating the oppression perpetuated onto women, but a conversation centered on the oppression of men is nearly nonexistent. In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton describes the life of Newland Archer set in Old New York society. Newland Archer is a man who has his life seemingly predestined given where he is born in society. In the novel, Wharton describes not only Newland’s life, but also the stringent society that dominated Old New York....   [tags: Sociology, Oppression, The Age of Innocence]

Research Papers
1058 words (3 pages)

The Personalities of May and Ellen Illustrated in the Novel The Age of Innocence

- In the novel, “The Age of Innocence” two of the main characters come to be introduced in the first chapter where they are seen at the Opera house. Newland Archer, a well respected lawyer of New York looks across from his box seat to see his newly engaged fiancée May Welland. Sitting next to her, he sees May’s mother and aunt. Next to them he sees a woman who is familiar to him-she is May’s cousin, Ellen Olenska. These two women play important roles throughout the whole novel. There are two different personality types which are displayed in both May and Ellen....   [tags: Age of Innocence]

Research Papers
1073 words (3.1 pages)

Blake's The Songs of Innocence Essay

- Blake's The Songs of Innocence The Songs of Innocence poems first appeared in Blake’s 1784 novel, An Island in the Moon. In 1788, Blake began to compile in earnest, the collection of Songs of Innocence. And by 1789, this original volume of plates was complete. These poems are the products of the human mind in a state of innocence, imagination, and joy; natural euphoric feelings uninhibited or tainted by the outside world. Following the completion of the Songs of Innocence plates, Blake wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and it is through this dilemma of good and evil and the suffering that he witnesses on the streets of London, that he begins composing Songs of Experience....   [tags: Songs Innocence blake Essays]

Research Papers
1363 words (3.9 pages)

Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence Essay

- Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence “As he entered the box his eyes met Miss Welland’s, and he saw that she had instantly understood his motive, though the family dignity which both considered so high a virtue would not permit her to tell him so. The persons of their world lived in an atmosphere of faint implications and pale delicacies, and the fact that he and she understood each other without a word seemed to the young man to bring them nearer than any explanation would have done.” (Wharton 16) This statement vividly illustrates the power of the unsaid within New York society during the 1870’s, the time in which The Age of Innocence was set....   [tags: Edith Wharton Age Innocence Essays]

Research Papers
1175 words (3.4 pages)

Innocence Lost by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Innocence Lost by Nathaniel Hawthorne My Kinsman, Major Molineux and Young Goodman Brown present Nathaniel Hawthorne’s belief in the universality of sin. These works provide numerous perspectives into the nature of the human condition and the individual’s role within it. Hawthorne fictionalizes a world where communion with man is essential for spiritual satisfaction. The main characters of these stories face moral dilemmas through their pursuit of human communion. Whether the problems are moral, psychological, or both, Hawthorne insists that the individual must come to affirm a tie with the procession of life, must come to achieve some sense of brotherhood of man....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne Innocence Lost Essays]

Research Papers
1918 words (5.5 pages)

The Violation of William Blake's Songs of Innocence Essay examples

- The Violation of Blake's Songs of Innocence        Abstract: William Blake's Songs of Innocence contains a group of poetic works that the artist conceptualized as entering into a dialogue with each other and with the works in his companion work, Songs of Experience. He also saw each of the poems in Innocence as operating as part of an artistic whole creation that was encompassed by the poems and images on the plates he used to print these works. While Blake exercised a fanatical degree of control over his publications during his lifetime, after his death his poems became popular and were encountered without the contextual material that he intended to accompany them....   [tags: Songs of Innocence and Experience Essays]

Research Papers
2435 words (7 pages)

Related Searches

I was not. Their eyes glistened with roundness, and I wished to be like them. They were so carefree in their skin, running around with Legos and plastic horses without a worry in the world. I was almost like them. I too had plastic toys, but I could not look at a Cabbage Patch Kid or a Ken doll or a He-Man figure and think, this looks like me. The Master of the Universe did not have straight black hair and almond eyes.

Images in my mind began to materialize in a series of revelations- images I had seen of Asian people in movies and pictures, some of them kung-fu fighting, some of them picking rice and the rest eating food. Next to those images was a picture of me and my family. I was Asian.

I ran home that day frantic for evidence that it was all a lie. I hunted through my parents' drawers for pictures of long-lost relatives who just might have been white. I looked at my birth certificate in search of the words "Not Asian" or "certified white baby," anything to save me from my skin. There was nothing. I sat down in my little sweatpants and looked closely at the handprint of my former, smaller self. The fingerprints were slightly smudged. I glanced down at the fingertips of my right hand and then gingerly placed them against the imprint. It was me.

I still had one hope. I hurried down the stairs and opened the refrigerator door. The door light made strange silhouettes of the food inside. Bread, eggs, green vegetables, meat, milk, more eggs. I paused. More eggs? I bent forward and put my little but big head into the second shelf. The eggs were grey and floated in a jar full of mysterious brown liquid. I eyed them carefully and rotated the jar until I could see the label. Chinese characters greeted me. I quickly retreated, closed the door, and put my back to the fridge door. Asian food for Asian people, I thought.

My mom came into the kitchen and bent down to hug me at my position. I closed my eyes and tried envisioning my mom as being of another race. I imagined her hair color as blonde and red and brown. The brown almost fit as I made the tint darker and darker. Eventually it became black, and I gave up. My mom was perfect as she was. I opened my eyes and returned the hug.

I went upstairs and sat down on my bed. My little brother was sleeping in it. I laid down next to him and thought about who I was. I was Dexter Ang, seven years old, in 2 nd grade. I had three brothers, a mom and a dad, and a cat. I was Asian, and I did not know what to think about that. I looked at my brother. He was Asian, and he looked like he was fine with it. As that thought settled in my mind, I fell asleep.

My mom woke us for dinner. As my family sat around the table, I looked at the round faces and almond eyes resembling mine. I thought about the times I was the only yellow face in a sea of white. I thought about how I did not want to be like everyone else. I thought about how my race made me special. While chewing my beef and broccoli, I accepted my identity. It wasn't so bad being Asian.

My race is ingrained in my identity. I cannot part from it either physically or mentally. It forms the lens of my experience and influences how others view me. As a child, I traded the race I was born with to pretend to be someone else. My life's stage was full of homogeneous characters, and I was wearing a disguise to fit in. Seven years of closing my eyes to the image reflected in mirrors. Seven years of unconscious acting and then the false comfort of homogeneity disappeared. The curtain of my identity rose to reveal to me my true race. I rejected my membership to this race and reached for my worn-in costume, but could no longer grasp the illusion.

It has been difficult to understand this realization and feel unashamed of being different. Struggling to define the two halves of my identity, one as American and the other as Asian, and to balance their coexistence has woven open-mindedness and empathy into my personality. I am a man apart from the convention of race. My appearance is only as shallow as my skin but my identity lies deep within my heart.

The cultural origin from which I emerged was different from what I was exposed to in society. Growing up without an extensive Asian community to support and affirm my identity, I was for a long time unable to internalize my race. I absorbed the attitudes of my friends and accepted them as my own. My friend's joke about me was funny because I did not recognize the irony. Outside the confines of my home, I forgot who I was and what I looked like. I was in denial of my racial identity.

While the realization of the truth was abrupt and uncomfortable, accepting and embracing who I am filled a void in my personality. My identity is no longer empty of the truth, and I do not close my eyes to race and hope for childhood naivete and innocence. Acknowledging reality formed in me a deep understanding of how race influences the person that I embody. I cannot be defined or simplified by my race nor do I think that others can be. Race does not determine who we are, but is a layer contributing to our individuality within the collective identity. Internalizing the struggle to accept race allows me to empathize with similar issues others may be facing. It is not the concept of race that is dangerous; it is the baggage of our associations and prejudices that weighs down the pursuit of our identity. We should all be unafraid to discover who we are.
Return to 123HelpMe.com