Identity Does Not Define Experiences

Identity Does Not Define Experiences

The Oberlin Review
Oberlin, Ohio

Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura, College senior

To the Editors:

My name is Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura. I take he, him and his. I am a mixed-race Japanese American. I am cisgender and heterosexual; I am from Ohio and a strictly middle-class background. (I received a federal Pell Grant one year and not others because my family is right on the cusp of certain federal guidelines.) My father is an immigrant with no college degree, while my mother has a Master’s degree. (You might be surprised at who makes more money.) I am the oldest and only son of four children. I am graduating in May and have gained tremendously from my Oberlin education.

This introduction is meant to highlight both my social privileges and challenges. (These are in fact relative terms, which means some elements of my identity have simultaneously advantaged me and been used to discriminate against me.) Asian Americans (particularly Midwestern ones and Ohio students in general) make up a fraction of Oberlin’s student body, while students of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indian descents are disproportionately represented, relative to their national populations, in American college campuses. In this country, people generally refer to me as part Asian, whereas in Japan I am overwhelmingly thought of as White. I will graduate from Oberlin with roughly $35,000 in loans (higher than the national average), yet statistics indicate I am better positioned to find a good job and start a family than my peers on this campus who come from low-income backgrounds.

There are many layers to my life story. I straddle the boundary between majority and minority, sometimes enjoying the benefits of one while enduring the hardships of the other…

Read the entire letter here.

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