As one of the few people of color cast on The Bachelor season 17, Catherine Giudici Lowe thought she "was there just to check a box," she has admitted, adding, "I knew that one of the reasons I was probably chosen was because I was Filipino." But she refused to let that deter her on her quest to find love—or ever, really, as she has always found pride in who she is. Here, amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the mom of three (with Sean Lowe) details the heartbreaking racism she has faced and makes a plea for everyone to respect—and celebrate—our differences.
Inside each of us there is a need to belong. And while we may look different from the majority, we still want to be seen as equals—as humans—and want to be set apart from the injurious stereotypes that have plagued our communities for decades and, now more pressing, these past turbulent months.
As a proud woman of color—I'm half Filipina-half Caucasian—I grew up with parents who lived and married in Japan. I spent my life exposed to different cultures and celebrated those differences. My family encouraged traveling and gathering cultural memorabilia, trying foods at a young age that introduced us to varying flavors, listening to stories and to music in other languages, immersing in the Deaf/Hard of Hearing communities and spending our weekends at Seattle's Filipino Community Center.
My parents were so good at honoring the richness in the many ethnic communities and celebrating what makes us and others unique. But, even with the priority surrounding ourselves with diverse groups and people, my family has experienced acts of ignorance and discrimination.
At a very young age, my sisters and I were called "mongrels" because my Filipino mother had children with a Caucasian man. Growing up, I would visit areas where I was pointed at and "konnichiwa" was screamed at me. Each instance, whether minor or completely damaging, is something that has shaped me.
I think so many people look at being different as a negative. What has happened with the uprise in Asian attacks is deplorable, unthinkable. Instead of seeing an opportunity to learn about someone who is different, people choose to respond with hate and violence.
Knowing there are people who believe they are superior than those of color or even those who don't have the same abilities as them has brought me to tears. It is really saddening and can turn your heart from trying to stay strong to meeting the hate with more hate.
But when I step back and really look, there are more people for us than against us. That gives me hope.
What I've found over many conversations with people from various Asian backgrounds is that we all want respect and that what is so important to us is what is important to so many other Americans. We want to contribute to the American fabric and want to make a positive mark on the future.
What unifies us is the reverence for our elders, the emphasis on our foods and the time we spend with our family. We have stories about our history, about our struggles, about our joys—and we hope you will listen and truly hear us. We want you to try to learn the pronunciation of our names, of our foods, of our languages as the generations who came before us did for the English language when they came here.
The things we teach our children—to respect one another, to share, to acknowledge others, to listen—are the things we should always remember ourselves.
When we learn and honor each other's differences, it doesn't take away from our lives. It enriches them.