Among the many experiences that connects all Asian kids who grew up in the West is the shame or embarrassment other children made you feel when you brought home-cooked Asian food to school for lunch.
Kang was an elementary student at Steelesview Public School in Toronto back in 2007 when a white boy started bullying him by making fun of the bento boxes his mother has been packing for his lunch.
“As an Asian kid in elementary, you already know your mom will be busting out those bento boxes and packing it with a variety of deliciousness. I would always bring bento boxes for lunch every day,” Kang wrote.
“Until one day there was this white kid (we’ll call him Bob) who came up to me as I unpacked and literally pushed my food off the table. He said: ‘Why do you always bring weird food, weirdo?’”
Bob not only told him that his food “smells so bad,” it “looks bad too.” The young bully also told him to “eat something normal.”
A teacher named Ms. Song, who also happened to be of Asian descent, scolded Bob and also provided food to Kang after finding out about the incident.
“But I was shocked and hurt,” Kang remembered. “I went home that day and asked my mom to change up my lunch because I became “bored of the same lunch every day” (I loved it every day). So she agreed and started packing me “normal” food as Bob states.”
The teacher, who earlier helped Kang, eventually noticed that he chose to change his lunches because of what Bob said.
“Instead of telling me that it’s okay to have different food than everyone else, she brought in dozens of platters filled with all types of Asian food for the whole class. Everyone enjoyed the food, even the other staff – I was so happy because she did this.”
Kang noted that while everyone was enjoying the food the teacher brought in, Bob initially refused to eat any of it, deciding to stick with his classic sandwich instead.
“The teacher came up to Bob asking him to try one of the foods at least saying she worked hard to make it. He still refused but later on, we all saw him take a bite and enjoyed eating the rest lowkey.”
According to Kang, Bob eventually “enjoyed all the food, realized it was good and apologized to me himself.” He also shared that Bob is in “somewhere in Asia right now enjoying himself.”
“Thank you, Ms. Song!” Kang wrote in the end.