The gun fired and we were off to the races. I was one of the first to dive in the water without a moment’s hesitation; it was as if Denzel trained me himself. It was the early-mid 80s so “Eye of the Tiger” was quite possibly in rotation on the radio as I stroked ahead of the pack, feeling fresh and new, keeping my eyes on the arrows directing our path.
I attended one of the nerdiest schools in the United States, an academic magnet school with a 70% Asian/Pacific Islander student population. Our cheerleaders were Asian, our basketball team was Asian, the goth kids and the hip hop kids were Asian, our homecoming queen was Asian.
When I arrived at this school in seventh grade, I was a tangled mass of perms and bangs and glasses and braces and biker shorts. I was chubby and clumsy, utterly invisible to the in-crowd. Still, I had a strong support network, and I never felt like I couldn’t try something just because of my race.
What I really wanted to be was a cheerleader. In my mind, they represented all that was totally awesome, the epitome of teenage female perfection. I dreamed about one day wearing a uniform of my own, pulling my hair up into a beribboned high ponytail, and bouncing into that smiley sorority.
Thanks Keith for creating this site and inviting me! I revised my 2010 Origin Story for 2013. Check it out:
I’ve told this story a million times: when I was young, my father kept me off the streets and saved much needed money buying me the toys I wanted by getting me a library card and teaching me to walk to the Franklin Avenue library, and there began my love of books and stories.
What I’ve written less about is the books I gravitated towards: books about mythological monsters, Greek gods and heroes, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Lord of the Rings, my older sister’s Elfquest collection and X-Men comic books. And the secret of many a nerd of color from the ‘hood: my lifelong devotion with role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, and Vampire: the Masquerade.