Monday, December 20, 2010

Right beneath the surface

Personal Photo

Memory is a funny thing.  Sometimes there are memories that you think have been long forgotten, but they're instantly triggered with a sound, a touch, a story.  Those memories were actually right beneath the surface, tenuously held from the forefront of your mind.

A collection of someone else's memories triggered very similar memories and events from my own childhood. These are not good memories.  They are not things that I think of fondly.  

It makes me worry for my future children, when they are in school and are targeted as different simply because of their ethnicity.   I never want my future children to think "I wish I was white" like I did when I was growing up, to think of how everything would be so much easier if I wasn't Asian.  

I'm thankful that something in me changed through all of this, that I cultivated great pride in my ethnicity.  I'm thankful that growing up, I found friends who were Asian-American and understood these things like only those who have been through it can.  

Identity is a tricky thing.  Identity and ethnicity together are even trickier.  They work, really, hand in hand and can't be separated.  I am shaped by my race and ethnicity.  They inform who I am and how the world interacts with me.  

I'm so glad I got to the other side, but it makes me emotional to remember.  There's a certain amount of helplessness and self-loathing that comes from that kind of teasing.  I know it's not something that I really ever talked about but I think it's important to share these stories, because if we are ignorant of what's going on these things will never change.

Ching-Kuo, sincerely, thank you for sharing your story.


  1. Beautifully written post! And although the post I wrote dug up some really ugly memories for me (as well as you), it made me think of how far I've come - from self loathing to a sense of pride and identity that will forever be connected to my ethnicity and the culture it comes with. Unfortunately, even though my journey is over, and I'm all the better for it, it is just beginning for my son and daughter. I just hope that the confidence I have gained can somehow be gifted to them so that they at least have a reserve to draw upon should they face similar hardships as they find their way through life and their own identities.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I imagine you want to shield your children from ever having to face the same experiences as we've had but I feel like our generation is different. My parents always said to keep your head down and to not make trouble. I don't advocate making trouble but I certainly don't advocate staying quiet and keeping your head down (when appropriate of course). I'm confident that you guys will give your son and daughter the kind of support that they need.