When Hannah Maree Eun Pinski was nine years old, she was sharing middle names with friends in the school cafeteria. One of her white classmates “joked” that her Korean middle name was weird, then pulled at the corners of her eyes, and said, “I guess it makes sense since you have ugly eyes.” Everyone at the table laughed.
Pinksi, who was the only person of color at the table, says her classmate likely didn’t intend to be hurtful, only to make a joke. But over a decade later, it remains a vivid memory.
“That was the first time I remember someone saying something like that to me, and it really hit home,” she says. “I thought, well, if everyone agreed with her, then it must be true. I still don't feel confident about how I look.”