By Bailey Klingaman – Digital Editor
I used to be ashamed of my Korean middle name, Meejin. In middle and high school, I would ask for my middle name not to be announced at award ceremonies and graduations. Throughout my life, I have promised myself that one day I would officially change my middle name. I’m happy to break that promise today.
Unlike most of my friends’ parents, my mother never used our shared middle name. The only times I had ever heard it spoken was from “the Korean Family,” a family who hosted my grandparents when they were in South Korea for the Peace Corps. Many members of the family speak English and have visited the United States, but they insist on referring to my mother as “Meejin,” her Korean name.
This bothered me growing up because it seemed like a mask: Meejin was a Korean-American woman, but I didn’t want to see my mother like that. I didn’t want to see myself like that either, as different than my friends and classmates. I hated hearing anything about Korea, talking about my ethnicity, and being identified as different. So for years, I hid behind my caucasian genes.
But movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate (StopAAPIHate) helped me to realize that hiding wasn’t a solution. As I hear about Asian-Americans being attacked in the streets, I do not want to hide. I want to be proud of my heritage. So I will not be changing my middle name, but I will keep it proudly.
No matter your race, culture or skin color, be proud of where you come from. Be proud of where you are. Be proud of where you will go. Because I know from now on, I will be.