Grace Bora Kim, 20’s
Current Role: Learning and Development Team Lead at Zillow Group
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Tell us about your family story.
My mother immigrated to Tacoma, Washington when she was 17 years old in the 80's. My father immigrated to New York City in his late 20's. My little brother and I were born in Tacoma, Washington and are often referred to as, "Tacoma Trash," due to being born to an impoverished Korean-immigrant family. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I grew up in a community with hate crime, gang violence, and pain.
Tacoma Washington has a huge Korean-American community but I still never felt like I belonged to either the white or Korean/other minority groups until going to the University of Washington (Seattle). Here, I was able to meet a diverse select group of friends from all around the state and world that shaped my view on being a child of immigrants.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Korean/Korean American?
There are many challenges of being a minority group or even being a little "different." Simple things like your mother packing your favorite Korean dish for school lunch can be a challenge, as I am screaming at her because I didn't want the other white kids to tell me that I "stink." I think the biggest challenge as an Asian-American is not falling victim to the expectations of the "model minority" theory. This theory is a "cultural" expectation placed upon Asian Americans as a group that each individual will be smart, wealthy, hard-working, and docile. i.e. Have you ever heard that, "Asians are good at math"? Does anyone know what it feels like being absolute garbage at math? Have you ever been an Asian person trash at math? It's not something that is treated positively if we are.
The model minority theory is a tool used to make people like me, invisible. To become liked and like the white man is how you can "fit in" as a minority. But now I see, to be like the white man is their way to make me invisible because they can't erase me so I must become invisible. With this, comes the strength of perseverance, perspective, empathy, patience, and power knowing because they can't completely erase me and because of that, I have the power to be SEEN. The greatest strength being a minority or PoC is resilience.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is even with being bullied, I stuck with being the biggest anime and Kpop fan (Now, it's so popular and "cool").
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
Many things but the biggest thing is my mother teaching me how to be a strong and independent woman that appreciated her Korean heritage without succumbing to the traditional standards and expectations that praise only sons and chain daughters.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Yes, my grandma lived with us and didn't speak any English. I learned how to speak, write, read from my grandma so we could talk to each other. I consider her as my second mother.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in your Korean/Korean American & AAPI community?
Don't be ashamed to have culture, history, and depth in your life. Don't be embarrassed - it is those that don't have that who will take.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
Seeing those I love have growth and love in their own lives.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
Two Dog Farms, Inc.! Please think about joining our jindo foster program - or if you're thinking about adopting a doggo, please join these groups!
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
Want to share your voice?
To be featured, read the directions and fill out this form. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome.
Charles Calvino Hang
Danielle Bopha Khleang
Emma S. Buchanan
Firda Amalia Herryanddhy
Grace Bora Kim
Justin Cardona (JCool)
Kaitlin Kamalei Brandon
Krystal M. Chuon
Lina (Spring Roll Fever)
Mei Mei Long
Melissa Khoeum Barnett
Note K. Suwanchote
Sam "Smushipig" Javier
Samrach Sar, Esq.
ចាប សាត Sath Chap
Sotheara Jeffrey Lim