My name is Veronica Gaskey, but my Korean name is Han Byul. Here in Tacolandia USA (San Antonio, Texas), I’m known as Vero.
WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
When you break down all the ingredients that make up Vero, you get a healthy heaping mixing pot of Korean, Mongolian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Yugoslavian. My mother is Korean with some traces of Mongolian (most Asians have some mongolian in them somewhere) and my father is an exchange of European countries. In a nutshell, I am Eurasian.
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
Good Ol’ Texas… San Antonio to be exact.
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?
There is a heavy Latino/Hispanic/Mexican (yes there is a difference) population here primarily, but San Antonio is also known as a military city with three Air Force bases and four Army Bases, the military brings people from all areas to our lovely city.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
This question plagues all military brats. I was born in Taegu, South Korea, but due to my father being in the military I had the opportunity to grow up all over the world. For example, in high school alone each year was in a different country or state. Freshman year was in Seattle, which was very diverse. Sophomore year was in Sparta, Wisconsin… that was not diverse at all, but culturally unique, something I had never experienced before. Then Junior year was in Korea, but on a military base, so it was pretty well mixed and being across the world from Wisconsin, the culture was a complete 180. And then Senior Year was in Texas where I have the pleasure of currently residing… and that’s just the traveling I did in high school.
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?
The story varies depending on who you ask. But from what they tell me… my father saw my mother and was immediately in love and followed her all over Korea for two years. My mother says that she thought my dad was very ugly and wore high waters and had a weird mustache. That’s code for she actually really liked him but won’t admit it.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
None that I am aware of. Even though they came from two completely different cultures, their love for each other and us was strong.
HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL/BIRACIAL?
Yes. At the end of the day, I am American.
DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?
Even though we do not celebrate Christmas, every December we do something as a family and will go visit my dad’s side in Dallas. When we were in Korea we participated in Chuseok, which is a celebration of Harvest in the Fall. Some compare it to a “Thanksgiving” essentially because, you eat a lot, drink, and be with family.
WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?
Korean was actually my first language, but then my mother had stopped speaking it fluently to me when I was young due to some racism I experienced in Korea being a half white baby. I understand Korean better than I can relay it back, but i know somewhere deep down it’s still in me. Oddly enough it comes back clear as day when my mother is very upset with me.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
Koreans & Texans (thank the Gods) eat GOOD. In Korean culture, hospitality is a huge deal. The biggest way to display this is by feeding each other and offering food at gatherings etc. I love the spices and customs and culture of Korea & Korean cuisine.
Texans, I’ve found, have a charming Southern hospitality as well AND they love food just as much, especially BBQ. In San Antonio we have this weird and delicious obsession with tacos. I’m not mad at it. In fact, I feel it’s my duty as a Texan to embrace it full on.
Something that I have recently have fallen in love with is Korean Skin care. I think that their skin is beautiful and youthful, something I think is cool to be a part of.
I love how in our culture they value science and art and history and take pride in where they are from. In Korea there is great value in education and that is something I find very impressive, if not, motivating. In many Asian cultures the women are subservient. Korea has a woman as their president. While I do not get involved in political affairs, I am proud to know my birth country has educated women in positions of power. That is inspiring for all cultures.
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?
They physically took me to where I was from to live there. That’s probably the best thing they could have done for me.
DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
Race doesn’t matter to them. My father would always say, “It starts at home.” They don’t see race, just their kids.
DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
When I was younger I would identify with being half Korean, half white… then I did some high school in Korea and decided to be more embracing of my Korean roots; all about the motherland and identified myself as such. Then I moved to Texas, where my father is from and for a bit I identified more with my Euro side and decided I was a proud Texan from the South. Now, I have matured to the mindset and reality that I am indeed multiracial so I check the “other” box haha. Very proud and thankful of being mixed.
DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?
Absolutely not. I do not eliminate a potential partner because of their race. That would be absolutely ridiculous.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?
To be honest, while opposition does come with being multiracial as it does with being primarily one race, any race, I don’t sit and think too much about what it means to be mixed. It’s a part of me, but not WHO I am… which I suppose is odd to say, but for example it is like asking, “what does it mean to be black”... every single black person has their own perspective on what it means to be black. People are indeed their OWN individuals, sooo for me to really answer this is internally weird. To be mixed is to be human. Simply.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?
Of course. From my friends I learn how to open my thinking and broaden my understanding of the struggles and pasts of others. I learn that life is serious and not all that serious at the same time. I learn to be ambitious and to compete. I learned to push the limitations of standard education and not to take no for an answer when my own dreams are being threatened. I learned to be deliberate in my success and impact on others. I learned to be confident and stand tall while keeping my softness and emotion. I learned to give and give not to expect a return. I learned to have love for others and myself… all of which I have learned, not because of their race, but experience.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
Psssshhh, oh my goodness where do I even begin haha. Let’s start with the stereotypes that come with being an Asian woman: “Do you eat dog, do you do nails, do you do hair, ching chong ling long- what did I say, you must naturally be very smart, are your parents super strict, did you want to be a doctor, I bet you couldn’t bring home B’s on your report card, your vagina must be super small, Asian women are freaks, love me long time, Asian women are very catering so you’ll make a great wife, how come you don’t have an accent, are you Chinese (cause all Asians are…), and that is just to name a few.
Now let’s start with the white stereotypes… is your dad a redneck, must be so easy to be white, you must be well off, I bet you have never had to work for anything, you’re lucky to have white privilege, I bet you could never date a black guy, is your dad racist, you listen to only country music huh… The list goes on… I remember once when we moved to a small town in Wisconsin, I got mistaken for the foreign exchange student followed with a “do you speak English”. I am tired of people thinking that America is the center of the universe and that America is only White or Black. There is a beautiful diverse world out there and everyone should have the opportunity to explore it for themselves.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
I hope that we can at the very least reduce ignorance and increase education about various cultures, ethnicities and races. I think that this is the first step to tolerance and acceptance. Some people simply do not know or receive information from biased sources. Broaden your mental understanding of people, America. We never seem to question the keeper of keys and the guardians of information and I feel, we will start. Be beyond your curriculum and beyond your own standard and explore. Let down opinions and prejudice and actually immerse yourself in new experiences.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?
If you happened upon this article, thank you for reading about me.
I would like to close by saying that whatever it is you want to do in life, you can and will if you have enough nerve. Be deliberate in your success and never allow being a woman or minority to hinder your growth and mental power. Impact society with an open innovative mind positively. You never have to be just one thing. I have had the blessing of walking New York Fashion Week as a size 8. I have had the opportunity to have my artwork feature on the cover of two books. Early, my passions were in the arts & writing, but my calling is in health, fitness, community & empowering women.
If you are a young woman seeking a mentor, please, message me or email me anytime.