Once you label me you negate me — Søren Kierkegaard (or Wayne’s World)

I’ll admit, I’ve never read Kierkegaard.  I’d never even heard of him until the infamous Wayne’s World bit.  But I think the quote resonates with me.

Those of you that know me know that I’ve been a Star Wars / Star Trek geek my whole life.  I grew up on the Original Series (TOS).  Later, I enjoyed the Next Generation as well, but much like Episodes IV – VI of Star Wars, my first loves were never to be dethroned by the New Kids.

I was thinking about a clip I had seen on Nichelle Nichols’s Influence On Whoopi Goldberg, and if you’re on Facebook and following any of the Star Trek personalities, you’d probably seen as well.  Nichelle shares a story she had heard from Gene Roddenberry about how she gave Whoopi hope as a young child seeing a black woman on TV. It’s a touching story and a testament to positive role models.

Here’s the weird thing, and I’m not necessarily speaking for anyone but myself.  Growing up, there weren’t any Korean actors, musicians, athletes, or celebrities to speak of.  In fact, where I grew up, 90% of my classmates had never even heard of Korea.  So, when it came time to play Star Trek, guess who I was always chosen to play?  SULU, of course.  Because he’s the Asian one.   Never mind he’s JAPANESE and traditionally, Koreans hate anything that has to do with Japan.

But as a young kid, I didn’t know I was “THE ASIAN ONE”.  I didn’t want to be the lame Helmsman.  I wanted to be the Captain or at least Spock.

Maybe I’m living in a John Lennon-esque “Imagine all the people living life in peace” moment, but our ethnic history doesn’t define us.  The neighborhood / state where we grew up doesn’t define us.  What’s even more odd to me is allowing something that took place decades or centuries ago to define who you are.

I grew up in Chicago.  I have just about as much kinship with Korea as I do with Al Capone or Shoeless Joe Jackson.  Sure, we might have walked on the same dirt at some point, but I don’t let that limit / define who I am or what I can be.


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