Last night I made tacos for dinner, and today I have corned beef in the slow cooker. This is what I love about America, our diversity. I’m married to a man whose family came from across the pond, and served a mission in Cebu, Philippines. He still speaks Cebuano and a bit of Tagolog fluently. In high school he took German, and can get by with what he remembers. My family hails from China and Taiwan. I lived in the Spanish and Chinese houses at the BYU Foreign Language Student Residence in college.
Our family loves to travel to different countries, and taste the food and culture. There is so much to learn and so much to gain from our willingness to open ourselves to the world around us. As parents, we feel it is our job to raise responsible, caring, thoughtful children, who can help to make the world a better place.
I like to imagine that the issues we face with race in our society is all ancient history, except that it isn’t. Just last week I was returning home from a walk. I noticed a neighbor on my street about to get into her car. As I got closer I noticed she was watching me, and sort of waiting for me to get closer. So I smiled and waved a hello. She got out of her car to greet me. I learned that she had been in the US just one year. She and her 13 year old son had moved to our neighborhood from China. Her husband, a doctor, was still in China, since if he moved here, he would lose all his credentials. She in her broken English, and me with my broken Mandarin were able to communicate, and patiently struggle through anything we both couldn’t articulate. I asked her how her son was doing with the transition, and what she told me broke my heart.
Her son, who was a great student in China, was hating school. In China he was involved with sports teams, friends, and craved learning. Here, in our comfortable, middle class neighborhood he was bullied by the kids in the school because he was an immigrant, struggling with the language and adjusting to the customs. His mother graciously told me that she was grateful a counselor from the school stepped up to help her son, and things were getting better. Then she said, in such a forgiving manner, “this happened because the people here (mostly white) aren’t accustomed to people like us.”
I would like to state, vehemently, as “hosts” who live in this great country – we have a responsibility to not only be patient, helpful, and kind to those that immigrate here, but we have a parental duty to teach our children to do the same. Otherwise we are no better than thugs.
We are all human beings in this world. Loving our neighbors should be something we practice. With these posts, I hope that by seeing our faces, learning our stories, we can have a society where we are accepted, and loved, just as we are. I hope stories about kids bullying another kid for being different, stop. I hope they become some ridiculous, weird thing our ancestors used to hear about, because to even contemplate acting like that is ludicrous.
Stories like this, are why ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat, and the book by Eddie Huang, of the same title, are relevant, and important to our society’s conversations. We can’t ignore it, or it continues. Change comes through honesty, and a willingness to sincerely work through the issues. Take the time to read Sharline Chiang’s article, Reclaiming 5 Ugly Letters.
For my Asian American brothers and sisters, my hope is that our children live in a world where they are empowered to be whatever they choose to be. I hope that my daughters grow up confident, proud of their heritage, knowing that it’s not what they look like that determines what they can or can’t do, how they’re treated, and that when they look in the mirror they see the beauty we all see. It is still hard for me to believe my sweet friends and family who tell me that they think I’m beautiful. Sometimes I believe it, but there’s always that voice in the back of my mind that says, “no, you’re not white enough.”
Today I’m introducing you to another group of brilliant, interesting women and men. Some are new friends, others are friends I’ve admired from afar, and some are old friends from my school days. Some share what they hope for, for our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. I’m grateful for each and every one of them. My life is better for people who I can learn from, and look up to.