As You Think, So You Are

| April 21, 2003

When The Simon?s Marissa Kamin was invited to join her friend for an all-expense paid trip to a resort in the Bahamas, she experienced American vanity at its finest. From luxurious spa treatments to travel to Prada and Gucci by Mercedes, she enjoyed the high life, even though she could barely afford to window shop. It was a flea market transaction, however, that led to her most stunning souvenir: an island local giving her a ?knowing smirk? and commenting that she looked ?Chinese? when she told him she is American.

His stinging remark accompanied her back to the United States, where she pondered ?all the little boxes? she had checked throughout life identifying her ?ethnicity;? all the questions of where she?s ?from.? Although her mother is Japanese and her father is American, Kamin concluded that in America ?a society obsessed with appearances?her father?s heritage is ?irrelevant because it doesn?t show on my face.? Funny how a ?blonde surfer from California? or a ?cowboy hat crooner from Tennessee? can wear their nationality without question.

?Americans are obsessed with looks,? Kamin writes. ?Our media is hemorrhaging that message.? Meanwhile, she notes, we are ?inconsistent? in our vanity. We?ve gone into Iraq, ?justified shooting a bus full of women and children,? broken the international law ?that we created? and are instigating ?a cycle of terrorism? that will last for years to come, yet we ?don?t give a shit? how this looks to the world. ?Apparently,? she adds, ?all that really matters is how we look to ourselves, and that egoism is infuriating.? Kamin has left the Bahamas with a new resolve to change the American image to ?a people unified by a belief in freedom, liberty, human rights,? rather than by ?religion, hair texture, eye shape, or skin color,? and encourage the nation to follow her example.
?Erin Ferdinand

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