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Updated: Feb 23

Dear Asian Youth,


As the subway trains rushed by, I wrapped my fingers around my backpack's straps. My nails dug into their black, rough fabric as the memory flashed through my vision, as if I were in a cinema. Although it had just been a few hours ago, it felt as if it had been an eternity ago.

Holding on to the railing, I buried my nose into my thick, navy-colored jacket. The howling wind blew my hair, and it caressed my face with forced affection. I shivered, and after rubbing my frozen ears, I zipped my backpack open. After rummaging through my textbooks in what seemed like an eternity, I pulled out a sheet of paper. On it was marked a single letter in red:


Below the letter, the teacher had scribbled down a note. Apparently, she had been in a hurry, because the words were barely legible:

Congrats, Eunji! You have gotten the best grade out of the whole class.

Grinning, I inhaled a lungful of spiky air. As I spun to put the sheet of paper back into her backpack, someone tapped my shoulder. At first, the thickness of my jacket prevented me from noticing, but around the fifth tap, I looked above my shoulder, meeting someone's gaze. It was David, a classmate of mine.

“Wow, what a surprise!” David cackled, crossing his arms. “You got the best grade.”

“What about it?” I shoved the test into my bag, and flung it onto my shoulders. “My grade is none of your business.”

“I mean, of course it is. You’re my rival. And since you’re my rival, of course I’ll want to beat you on a test.” David pushed my head to a wall behind me. “What’s your secret?”

“I just work hard.” I started walking towards the stairs, but the sound of my footfalls halted when David said, “It’s just because you’re Asian.”

I closed my eyes, trying to swat the words away from my head. “I don’t care.” This wasn’t the first time I'd heard that phrase. Why get distracted by it now?

“You Asians are such nerds,” David continued, chuckling. “Have you ever wondered why you have no friends? Why you’re bullied? Because you’re that stereotypical Asian. You’re privileged. You don’t need to work hard to be smart, so of course, people will hate you.”

As his voice reached my ears, I bit my lip, gulping down a sob. “Shut up.”

I sniffed, shoving the memory away. I didn’t want those comments to distract me from things that mattered. My correspondent train stopped in front of me, and screeches filled the air. The door slid open, and as I stepped inside the subway train, a tingle emerged, creeping up my spine. </