My Immigrant Parents / Islamophobic America

It’s crazy how once upon a time, in fact not too long ago (maybe around 10 years ago), it was a pretty common thing in the Asian-American community in my high school to make fun of their parents… whether it was mocking their accents, or how strict they came down on the kid for getting a “B” on their report card, or even my brother performing a mini skit about it in high school.  Of course, a part of it is still in good fun, but I think for me, it was more than that. Perhaps partially, we laughed because of the grudge or bitterness of dealing with conservative or harsh parents, or being bitter that we couldn’t spend as much time out with friends or dealing with being self-grounded or physically punished.  No doubt, some Asian parents overdid it in my opinion.  But as I get older, I start to see their story, their side of it.  The script has flipped.  And the more research and exposure to other immigrant stories around us in the media, the more awareness and respect I have for it all.  Special thanks to people like Aziz Ansari for featuring that theme in “Master of None” the Netflix show, and Hasan Minhaj, “Fresh off the Boat”- these shows really do bring people together in creating more empathy between different ethnicities and generations.  It’s the kind of thing that blows my mind that it never existed before.  The market was completely dominated to, for, and by white people, where everyone thinks of typical America with a white face when it’s just not true.  And even if you were white, your ancestors still made the effort to reach their American dream once upon a time, some of it not that long ago.

To be honest, I did have envious thoughts of other kids that may have helped evolve into resentment in my teen years.  I wished I could go out and enjoy time with friends at Sweet Sixteens or not get severely scolded or guilted for not winning a piano competition.  No doubt, the pressure to be better and prove my parents made the right choice to move to America was huge and unhealthy.  But I never realized the role my mindset played in unconsciously thinking being Asian was something to be ashamed of, as if we weren’t good enough and had to earn our place in society.  My parents worked really hard from scratch, first in Asia, then here all over again, with heavy accents, cultural clashes, and financial struggles, saving penny by penny, to integrate us and raise us with a chance here.  I used to just remember the times my mom made my brother and me write a letter about all the things we had already and should do more of Christmas day instead of opening presents.  But now, I remember the times my parents bought us Nintendo 64, lots of Boxcar Children books, and all the toys we have in our house.  Every single thing was a conscious effort to buy that item for us, and I really took it all for granted, only looking at what I didn’t get.

As we become more immersed and integrated into what we believed the face of America to be, we must be careful not to turn it into almost a kind of propaganda, intentional or unintentional.  Instead of disgusting people caught being Islamophobic or telling people to “go back to China” or “go back to Africa,” honestly, check yourself.  What makes you think you have the right to say that?  It’s true that America appears ruled by mostly white old men, just take a picture of the White House meetings.  Sea of white, old faces everywhere.

But you know what it means to be a true American?  Stick up for each other, no matter what color skin they are.  That’s your neighbor.  Do not put up a wall and think you are better because you got here a few decades ago.  The true America is celebrating how diverse it is, and putting together our best and most talented and dominating in all platforms, whether it is the Olympics, or leading at the United Nations.  “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Be part of that responsibility.  Earn your power by standing up for your neighbor.  Whether they’re black or yellow, and especially if they’re brown in this day and age.

I’m proud to be Asian-American.  I’m glad I get to experience the intersection of two different kinds of cultures.  I’m proud of how I look too, from my petite height, to my almond shaped eyes, to my tinted skin tone.

Thoughts n Questions to Ponder

  1.  What are the main differences between pity, sympathy, and empathy?  Are there two different levels of empathy?  A.  Having gone through the same, or very similar experience where you understand deeply B.  Can understand as explained to you, as you willingly strive to seek out understanding of another’s experiences
  2. What determines what is art and what is not?  Is it enough that it makes one feel an emotion, or an opinion?    What about if something is crudely done in controversy? Perhaps this is how famous celebrities (Kim K, Andy Warhol, Trump, the Pepsi commercial) garner publicity knowingly and manipulatively
  3. Everything in life mainly revolves around the goal of Efficiency, which will lead to Effectiveness.  Example: Why Marie Kondo’s book on tidying and organizing became a bestseller as we have so much waste and crap in our houses.  It is how I learned to memorize my music with intent and away from the piano, more intensely in less time, but more mentally draining regardless.  Creative design should also focus on minimize waste, energy, time.  Should the same concept be applied for empathy?
    1. Things that are wasteful but shouldn’t be… 40% groceries wasted away in the average American household- why??
    2. Taco Bell sauce packets
    3. Throwing away or not having anywhere to place reusable teabags…

What are my strengths and current goals? Curiosity, focus, and intense determination

  1.  Korean / Spanish language, teaching Mandarin to my friend daily and weekly
  2.  Coding for Python
  3. Looking into animation (create short) practicing piano again and writing music (create a great piece)
  4. Empathy, Pondering, Philosophy
  5. Creating greater efficiency in waste, energy, time
    1. Re-organize lifestyle and bedroom
    2. Establish regime – wake up before 12pm, sleep at 2am, take morning/bedtime calcium supplements.  Stretches, drink 37oz liquids, work out, floss, mouthwash, skincare, haircare.
    3. “Is what I’m doing beneficial to me in the long run? Am I learning something right now productive?” –>  TEDtalks, cooking recipes (next up, ba wan), Lynda tutorials
    4. Be better at planning events
    5. Minimize sound pollution, food waste
    6. Develop photography portfolio so I can develop photoshop photos
  6. Passions:  women’s rights, Asian American rights, Disability rights –> how to save energy
    1. Suitcase with wheels/ moving chair
    2. Accessibility (ex:  more elevators in the city, better “wheelchairs”)
    3. How do we increase efficiency in obtaining empathy in each other in a simple, direct manner that makes sense?  –>  perspective of woman translating well for men.  Struggles of Asian Americans and immigrants, their story to become understanding or more relatable.
      1. Watch movies:  50/50 on reality of illnesses, The Godfather on moral dilemmas, Master of None on feminism, immigrants, ageism, hook up culture, racism, etc.
  7. Me:   Sound of heels clicking cleanly across the floor with a slight echo, rustling of a turning page, old smell of sheets of paper, fresh cut grass, moisturizing lip balms, Lupicia cookie tea and chocolate strawberry tea, slicing cucumbers, sizzling oil, matcha bubble tea, onigiri, ramen, glistening sashimi, glutinous gelatinous ba wan, emotional energy channeling through fingertips into keys, deep breaths, whirling thoughts, racing heartbeat, derp.