Nichole Gonzales is currently a rising sophomore in high school. In this interview, she tells us about her relationship with her mom and Filipino family, and finding pride in your Asian heritage.
Alefiya: What does your Asian identity mean to you? Feel free to share anything you’re comfortable with.
Nichole: I’m just really proud to be Filipino because my family is really open about everything and we accept everyone and we’re just so fun. I really enjoy our food, like food is definitely a huge and very important part of our culture. I love my family so much.
Alefiya: You talked right now about how much you love Asian culture, but did you always feel that way?
Nichole: Before I lived here [East Brunswick], I lived in Jersey City and there’s a lot of different cultures there and it’s pretty diverse. I felt like I had a change a little to fit in, but I still kept in touch with my roots and my Filipino culture.
Alefiya: What do you wish you could tell your younger Asian self today?
Nichole: I would tell her not to care about the racist stereotypes that people say. Like, don’t be ashamed of what you eat. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be shy to be Filipino, because that’s who you are, that’s who you were born to be.
Alefiya: You talked to me before about your mom and her going to work in New York. Can you tell me more about your relationship with her?
Nichole: My mom moved here in 2003, about 18 years ago. Even though she lives here, she’s still more used to the Philippines. She always cooks Filipino food- she rarely eats anything else. Her favorite food is lugaw, it has egg, soy sauce, chicken, tofu...we usually go shopping and gossip about the family drama.
Alefiya: How do you feel about her working in New York?
Nichole: She takes the train in New York and she always tells me about how the scary people are around and how she’s scared. She has to walk around fast and wear sunglasses to cover her eyes, and she wears a hat and long sleeves and pants so nobody suspects that she’s Asian and she doesn’t get hurt. It’s all really scary.
Alefiya: If there’s one thing you could tell your non-Asian friends right now, what would you say?
Nichole: Just because you’re not Asian it doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for Asians. We all have to stand together.
Alefiya: Anything else you want to add?
Nichole: Hmmm...all Asian people are beautiful!!! DON’T BE ASHAMED TO BE ASIAN EVER! BE PROUD OF IT!