What It's Like To Be An Asian-American On The Fourth Of July

What It's Like To Be An Asian-American On The Fourth Of July

A personal essay on the disenfranchised feeling of being a first-generation Asian-American.
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It's the Fourth of July: There are fireworks at night. Celebrations begin with large BBQs, friends and family; and, some vague nationalistic pride permeates the country.

Although this is a personal essay from a very specific POC point of view, what I'm about to describe could easily ring true for all veterans of war and their affected loved ones.

My father was a refuge from the Vietnam War. From the stories he told me during my childhood, he had come here with his two brothers, a sister and his mother in a ship after the war. His older brother convinced the family to immigrate, filling my grandmother's head with lies of extravagance, free food and shelter, and jobs. When they arrived, she certainly saw that was not the case.

Shortly after my father married my mother, a Taiwanese immigrant who worked her way into moving to the United States and gaining citizenship, I was born as a first-generation Asian-American in sunny Southern California.

Saying that it was difficult growing up with my father's PTSD and my mother's ignorance towards American values is an understatement. They wanted me to grow up as American as possible, without knowing what that entailed. Instead of teaching me how to properly speak Chinese at home, they spoke to me in broken English, thinking it would help. Nowadays my father spends his time taking care of his ill mother who rents a room in a bedbug infested home because nobody in our entire family has the heart to convince her to live in a senior living facility. My mother (sometimes frustratingly) takes care of my father when he comes home. There is a lack of communication from everyone, but I've learned personally that compassion transcends language.




From the first of July each year, the neighborhood is kept awake by the sound of illegal fireworks in the dead of night. When I was young, I used to wonder why my father would lock himself in his bedroom during this time of year. Now that I'm older, I still imagine him silently coping from the trauma of being a child in war.

I cannot help but feel guilty for the lack of communication in our family, but then again, guilt complexes are a major aspect in families – especially Asian-American families. Asian parents, even if they are living in poverty, save up all they have in order to put their children through tutoring (even if they don't need it), giving others the impression that “Asians are smart.” What this also does is ensure that we feel a strong sense of duty to our parents, who expect us NOT to move out, but to move in with a significant other and take care of them when they are older.

We never hear about Asian-American life in the articles about POC because there's this false pretense that because we do “OK” in school, we will grow up to have great jobs and become billionaires. However, this is rarely true for Asian-Americans; most of *those* are immigrants from rich families from overseas, who actually make fun of us in this country for being American.

For an Asian-American, it is easy to feel like you don't belong in either group -- but that's another story that needs to be told. For now, enjoy your hot dogs and pretty light shows. You deserve it.

Cover Image Credit: Ben White

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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I Spoke With A Group Of DACA Recipients And Their Stories Moved Me To Tears

An experience that forever changed my perspective on "illegal" immigrants.

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I thought I was just filming about a club meeting for a project, but when I entered the art-filled room located in a corner of the student common area, I knew this experience would be much more than a grade for a class.

I was welcomed in by a handful of people wearing various Arizona State hoodies and T-shirts that were all around my age. They were college students, like myself, but something felt different when talking to them. They were comforting, shy at first, and more driven than the peers that I usually meet.

As I began to look around the room, I noticed a good amount of art, murals, religious pieces, and a poster that read, "WE STAND WITH DREAMERS." The club was meant for students at ASU that are either undocumented or DACA recipients.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

As a U.S. citizen college student, you typically tend to think about your GPA, money, and dating. As a DACA recipient college student, there are many more issues crowding your brain. When I sat down at a club meeting for students my age dealing with entirely different problems as me, my eyes were opened to bigger issues.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program allows for individuals that crossed the border as children to be protected from deportation and to go to school or work. Commonly known as DREAMers, these individuals are some of the most hard-working, goal-oriented and focused people I have met, and that's solely because they have to be.

In order to apply to be a DACA recipient, it is required that the applicant is attending school with a high school diploma, or a military veteran, as well as have a clean criminal record. While being a DACA recipient does not mean that you can become a permanent citizen of the United States, it allows for opportunities that may not be offered in their home country.

It's no secret that the United States has dealt with immigration in a number of ways. From forming new policies to building a wall on our nation's border, we see efforts to keep immigrants from entering the U.S. every day. But what about the people who are affected?

As the club members and I began a painting activity regarding where we came from and how we got to where we are today, I began to feel the urge to cry.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

One girl described the small Mexican town that she grew up in and the family that still resides there. She went on to talk about how important education is to her family and so much so that it was the cause of her family's move to the United States when she was still a child. Her voice wavered when she talked about the changing immigration policies that prevent her from seeing her family in Mexico.

Another member of the club, a boy with goals of becoming a journalist, talked of his depression and obstacles regarding growing up as an undocumented student. Once he was told by his father that he was illegal, he began to set himself apart from his peers and became someone he did not think he would ever be.

All of my worries seemed small in comparison to theirs, and I felt a pang of regret for realizing I take my own citizenship for granted every single day.

Terminating the policy would lead to the displacement of about 800,000 people. We tend to forget about the human aspect of all of this change, but it's the most important part.

For more information about this club, visit https://www.facebook.com/USEEASU/

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