The first time I was bullied, I was in second grade, maybe 7 or 8 years old. In that moment, I didn’t even know I was being bullied. Kids on the bus – behind me, in front of me, to the side of me, started heckling me. “Hey, look at that ching chong, sitting by that white boy. Where is her hand? I bet she is trying to grope the boy she’s sitting next too! A ching chong is groping someone! A ching chong is groping someone!”
The fact of the matter was, the seat was crowded – three children to one seat – and my hand was in my pocket. This didn’t change the taunting, even when I pulled my hand from my pocket. All the kids around me started chanting, “A ching chong is groping the boy next to her!” One of the kids even ran up to the bus driver to tell the driver that, well, “A ching chong is groping the boy next to her!” I thought the driver would end the cacophony. Instead, the driver chuckled in response.
I felt a wave of heat overcome me.
Instances like this plagued my childhood. I would be sitting, not bothering anyone when someone would single me out and make me the butt of their joke. Even in a high school, during a pre-IB class, a guy made up a survey, in which he deemed me the ugliest girl in class, based on my looks, body, and whatever categories he made up. Looking back, I see that he was projecting his own insecurities (trust me, he was no Brad Pitt). I didn’t know, however, why he chose to take his insecurities out on me. I had never known him prior to the class or done anything negative toward him during the class.
These encounters made me very insecure growing up. I didn’t know what it was about me that made people decide that I would be the perfect “victim.” To this day, I’m not quite sure, except perhaps that I was a minority in the south. Perhaps my looks weren’t quite orthodox for the small southern community in which I grew up.
Today, I am a lawyer. I have a voice. I have fire in my blood. I am not afraid to speak up about my past.