Hi! I’m Ines Im. I’m 17, just about to turn 18. Though both of my parents grew up in South Korea, they raised me in New York City on the Upper Westside. In a majority-white neighborhood, at a majority white school, I struggled a lot with my racial identity during middle school. I desperately tried to become more like my white friends; I was conscious of the clothes I wore, my hair, my makeup, the people I surrounded myself with. I would secretly treasure when peers would call me ‘the whitest Asian person they knew’ when I could gloat that I couldn’t speak Korean.
Much older now, I am proud of my racial identity and my culture. Overcoming those insecurities has been one of the longest struggles in my life. Still, one memory keeps coming back to me from those middle school years: when an Asian classmate called me a ‘twinkie’ (a slang word for an Asian person who is ‘white on the inside’). The meaning, combined with my middle school behavior, still fascinates me; how can we assign racial identifiers to actions and personalities? The converse slang word is an ‘egg’, a white person who acts ‘Asian on the inside.’ For this piece, Yolked, I toyed with the ideas of the ‘egg’ and the importance of color.