Playing the “minority card” (College Essay)

I’m a senior in high school now (yay!) if y’all didn’t know and I’m looking into colleges, drafting my essays, submitting aplications, crying- you know the drama.

As we know, since I’ve blogged about it more than once, I have always struggled with my identity. I mean I know who I am and my name and all that stuff, kinda. I actually wrote my common app essay on my name. I’ll talk details and specifics later in the year after applications are done with, but a lot of people have asked me “oh did you write about being Asian?” or “you played the minority card right?”

Well here’s the thing, up to only very recently, I would laugh and agree, I did play the minority card. And to an extent, it’s true. A main theme in my essay is being a minority in America. But the negative connotation that comes with me writing about my experience as a minority is excessive.

It’s like oh of coourse you wrote about being a minority. Because apparently, my experience as a minority automatically gives me leverage over an essay about that person’s experience as a majority. My essay now is granted some magical heartstring-pulling power because I pulled out that card.

The way it was explained to me though, that yes, I did pull a stereotype. Because I have been dealt a hand of cards and those are the experiences I have to recount. I could talk about my dad dying, about being bullied, about being the only Asian kid in class, and I would all be pulling a “sympathy” card. But I can’t help that I experienced such things or that those experiences were influential arcs in my life.

It happened last year when I wrote an essay for my AP English Language class modeled off another biographical article of some sort. My teacher praised me for writing a compelling piece and shared it with my classmates. I was so proud of myself, but then I heard comments that I only received the grade I did because I “pulled the minority card” and that it wasn’t fair because I could write about that and some kid could only write about his experience with hockey or whatever. The thing that is unfair is that someone felt the need to euthanize my accomplishment with a stereotype.

So next time you nod your hat towards the obstacles you’ve overcome or the experiences you have, screw them. You deserve every bit of success. Your history and the stereotypes you face are the reason you are the way you are, regardless of what you take (or don’t take) from them.

You write that college essay. You do your topic. Don’t let someone tell you you’re pulling cards as if it were a bad thing. Because if I would too.


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