SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Ever since she was a little girl, Maria Medina has endured racially motivated comments about her family’s heritage and the way she looked.

But as she has grown, Medina says she no longer has remained silent and speaks out against racism whenever she is confronted by it.

“I was always told to laugh it off, ignore it,” she said of the offensive behavior. “It wasn’t really talked about, at least in my family. So you didn’t even known what was happening to you was actually racism. And I think it is because my parents probably felt — ‘Yeah we are foreigners and we feel like we don’t belong. We don’t have a leg to stand on.’

“So I never said anything to racism directed at me. Even as I got older. Only in the last few years, I have realized this is wrong. This is racism. This is Asian hate. And I found my voice.”