Racism Made Me Paranoid

I am chinese canadian and I was born and raised in a fairly large, predominantly caucasian town, and I was the only asian in my year in highschool, so I am no stranger to discrimination. The people in my town are quite tolerant, so I've never experienced outright blatant racism in my face, but I've had subtle encounters more times I can even count (ie. strangers asking me if I knew english in mocking tones, jokes about chinese people, kids pulling the coners of their eyes, etc). In a way, I'm kind of gratefull that i've gone through these times because it has made me a much stronger person than what I was before.

On the other hand, whenever I am attacked with racism, it takes a long time for me to recover. You'd think by now i've become immune to discriminating comments, but in reality, it shakes me to the core each time. Everytime I get "attacked", I get a vicious cycle of paranoia: if anyone even mentions the word "chinese" near me, i automatically feel victimized. If I'm in a room full of caucasians, i feel I am at a disadvantage. If anyone looks at me for longer than necesary, i feel like its because i'm chinese. I am constantly looking over my shoulder, i make a mental note of how "white" a place is before going there, and so on.

There was this one time in highschool we had a small unit on "Chinese communities in Canada" in class. I faked being sick to avoid class and hear the jokes/comments from my peers.

In fact, just an hour ago, i was walking home from school and as I passed by a group of guys, one said "...she just has to be Chinese..." in a deliberately audible voice. I don't know if I heard it out of context, but it sure sounded like it was directed at me. Which is why I'm on this forum now :)

I hate feeling this way, and I want to get over it but I don't know how. I hate feeling so vulnerable and weak afterwards, and not being able to do anything about it but wait for the paranoia to subside.

Does anybody have any advice on how to cope right after experiencing discrimination/racism? Any thoughts, feelings, anecdotes would be wonderful.

Thanks for reading!

Angie (2nd year University student)

angiening angiening
4 Responses Feb 13, 2009

I've been in your shoes Angie and I have the same paranoia. I've recently had my second son and I've become obsessed with racism because I don't want my kids to go through the same experiences we did. The little comments can still break a person down and give them poor self-esteem...for their entire life.<br />
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I've been trolling forums to try and find the answer to your question but with no luck so far :( I'm hoping I'll get over this obsession/paranoia soon. I am so thankful for my beautiful family and it bothers me that I'm so negative and hung up on this paranoia.<br />
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Hope you've had better luck overcoming it since you posted this...

My advice is to just shrug it off. Maybe it's just me, but I've managed to shrug off a lot of stuff that aren't true about me. I'm a Hmong American and am seen as Korean or Chinese all the time. Most of the time, I just ignore them because I'm not Korean OR Chinese so it doesn't really affect me.<br />
Maybe instead of taking it the bad way (like the dumb guys saying that you're Chinese), just shrug it off and be like, "Yeah, I'm Chinese and PROUD."

oh man...i feel the same way.<br />
i'm not chinese, i'm korean<br />
but whenever someone mentions "chinese" i get paranoid, because apparently we all "look the same"<br />
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and me too... it takes me a long time to recover... :/<br />
best of luck...

ugh this sucks:( I hate hearing this because I am so anti-stigma. This is what your suffering from (stigma). Other people have these insecurities w/in themselves which they will reflect unto others to somehow rectify their own self-paranoia. I know it sounds backwards but the way you are feeling is exactly what they want. <br />
Look, I am white....although people constanly ask me "where I am from" because I have different features. Anyway, I too have been a victim...everyone has regardless of race, weight etc. This is a huge problem because these things are surface material. I just wish you could feel so good about yourself that when you hear someone saying something that you think was bad - instead you hear them saying how gorgeous you are or how awesome your hair is or whatever....<br />
All i can do is give you encouragement and advice. You can't change other people but you can change their view of you. "the weak will seek the weak until they've broken them" one of my favorite quotes - lifehouse song. Unfortunately negative people can sense inner struggles in others and play upon them.....I've been there.<br />
Anyway, be strong, work on you and FORGET EVERYONE ELSE!!!! you have one life; love yourself, at least give it a shot and try to say one positive thing out loud to yourself for every negative thought you have. everything else will somehow fall to the wayside. hope it helps???????