by Qiao Lin


I was born in a place that was the cradle of a civilization that has over 5,000 years of history and I was quite proud this. However, just as I was leaving my own cradle, my parents left China for the land of opportunity, the United States. I was only a couple of years old and this new place fascinated and frightened me. There were more cars and the city lights in the distance seemed like terrestrial stars. Only a small group of people around me spoke the same language as me and there were a wide variety of different skin colors that I had never seen before. I did not fit in. It became apparent when I started school. I had to work twice as hard to learn a new language while trying to keep up with the rest of the class. My elementary years passed by with few problems. I was quiet and my intelligence was respected. I had few insults thrown at me by some of my fellow peers but I ignored them. It was part not knowing what the meanings of the words were and part too busy worrying about not disappointing my parents.

It was in middle school when things started going south. It was the first time I brought home anything lower than an “A” and my parents were furious.

“What is this?” my mom said as both of my parents came into my room.

“It’s my report card,” I said meekly.

“What is this on it?” my mom’s voice was calm considering her rage.

“It’s a 79,” I said avoiding eye contact.

“And is that a good grade?” she asked as she raised her voice.


My mom and dad were furious. They took a risk and moved to the U.S. for a better life for me and then worked morning to night to get money to feed and house me and this is how I repaid them. It was a betrayal in their eyes. After my beating I was deprived of any free time.

At school I learned that the name calling I experienced was bullying. In middle school it was more prevalent and I understood it. I was being attacked from both sides. Most of the insults were generic derogatory terms that were directed at Asians. They hurt but they were not enough to truly anger me. “You’re a chink.” “Squinty eyes.” “Go eat your bowl of rice.” These were only some the racist insults thrown at me and does not include the terms “geek,” “nerd,” and “loser.”

One day we were learning about Communism and the fact that China was a Communist nation came up. One of the tall and preppy, white, blonde-haired kids, who harassed me before, picked up on this and felt it was good enough to use it against me. He called me a “fucking Commie” while wearing his sunglasses indoors and looking down on me with his stupid smug face.

Normally this kid’s insult meant nothing, but this term infuriated me.

I had lived in the United States for almost ten years and I was well assimilated. I had been taught how great democracy was and how great the United States was for being a democracy. The fact that my native China was Communist troubled me. At that point I was taught that Communism was a terrible form of government and was generally associated with Stalin, the Soviet Union, North Korea, and other distasteful things in history. I was bothered by this and my oppressor seemed to pick up on this and continued to call me a “Commie” for most of middle school. His friends joined in and the insults that I normally was able to ignore also began to infuriate me. I didn’t want to go to school and home provided little solace. It was not until I was banned from the only thing that provided me with a haven, video games, did I snap.


I was trapped. I was fighting a war on two fronts. I was losing on both. Now with my only haven ripped away from me, I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out. It was during the 8th grade when the public school system believed that we were indoctrinated enough for them to teach more advanced history. I learned of hypocrisy. I learned of failure. I learned that there were fallacies in what we were taught.

Democracy no longer seemed to be the ideal to me any longer

A maelstrom of ideas appeared before me. It thrashed about in my head for some time and that was when it happened. My mind was at its calmest in a long time. The storm had passed. There was only one idea left. The reason why they called me a Communist was because they wanted to make it look like Communism was just as bad as democracy so I wouldn’t become a Communist. They feared Communism. They feared the Reds. They feared those godless people to the east.

So if they feared me becoming a Communist, then I was obligated to fulfill those fears as vengeance. When it was time for my oppressors to attack me, I lashed out at them. Not with fists, but with words. No longer was I that awkward, quiet Asian kid who sat in the front row of the class by choice. They were disturbed and the feeling I got from that was pure ecstasy. They no longer could attack me with their weapons, because their ammunition had long run dry, but I had weapons known as logic and words stockpiled for years. Only now I knew how to use them and I gave these bullets purpose.

With this moment of clarity, I finally felt strong enough to break out of the shackles of inferiority. The self that was bound inside finally emerged. The me that was locked away in the dark for so many years finally took its first step into the light. I was free. The real “I” was free.


Victory was mine and now all I had to do was consolidate this. I used the freedom I gained to reinforce my new found persona. It leaked out everywhere and everything about my life became dyed in red, the color of Communism. I addressed people differently, I was not as quiet, and my interests shifted. Even my wardrobe changed. No longer did I wear bright colors and name brands like some bourgeois scum flaunting his undeserved wealth. All was replaced by bland and dark colors that were fitting of a good proletariat. What I originally saw as bullying became nothing more than a dying gasp from preachers whose faith was proven to be false. They no longer could attack me and if they tried, I was capable of defending myself.

Nothing was sacred. I attacked everything they believed. I attacked their faith, their habits, and their parents’ ability to raise them. I told them why they were failures. I attacked their very core. “Your god is false,” these words echoed through the halls. “As Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses created by bourgeois to keep them enslaved.” I sowed the seeds of discord. If religion is the liquid that people drink to quench their need for purpose then I poisoned the well. The frustration I felt in the past was now spreading to those who caused it. I felt as if the world was already mine.

No one really questioned me, because even though my grades were not up to par with an honor student, I was still considered incredibly intelligent. My former oppressors informed a teacher about my behavior in hopes that an adult would be able to stop my madness. This backfired. The teacher saw my fanatical fervor as enthusiasm for the class. On that day, I learned that most adults were easy to manipulate. I took advantage of this, and my grades quickly showed improvement. Seeing this, my parents also eased their pressure.

History has shown that those who fight two front wars almost never win. I, however, was able to overcome my ordeal and I was able to usher in a new era in my life. It was an era where I do not have to fear anyone or anything. It was the era where I felt I could subjugate the world around me and turn it into a twisted haven from myself.


No one really knew how far I was going to take this character. I didn’t know. In high school, it evolved and it manifested into a monstrosity. In high school it became worse and nicknames began to surface. No longer was I called by the name my mother gave me. Even one of my history teachers called me “The Communist”

“Does anyone know when the Nazis invaded Poland?” my history teacher would ask. “Does the Communist know?”

“Of course I do,” proud that even the adults have acknowledged what I was. Somewhere along the line I became “Dictator Quinn” after my name was butchered by a substitute teacher. I was the face of Communism, narcissism, atheism, totalitarianism, sarcasm, and a hint of cynicism all rolled up in a tiny, chubby Asian package.

If I were a fruit, I would be bitter and probably toxic as well.

This all culminated in one single event. It was my senior year and those who had classes with me knew how vocal I was about me being right and you being wrong. The class I had was called “World Governments.” It was a required course for graduation. The first question that was asked in this class was what we believed was the ideal government. The teacher, who had me before in one of her classes, looked at me and I could feel some eyes of my peers shift to me. I slouched back into my chair and leaned to the right and propped my head up with my arm and smirked. That was when I heard the most beautiful sound I could hear at that time. It was sound that would make any siren sound tone-deaf. It was the sound of justice. It was the sound of my victory. It was sound of my ascendancy. It was a sound that you can only hear in the vacuum of space.


This story originally appeared in the 2015 edition of Castings

Posted by Josh Colfer at 7:30 AM

The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.

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