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.

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

Popular Right Now

Protect Children, Not Guns

It's time to save innocent lives.

School shootings are happening every day around the world and innocent children’s lives are being taken. However, the day-to-day school shootings aren’t brought to our attention unless a significant amount of people die. Personally, I am fed up with continuously hearing about these terrifying school shooting scenarios because nothing is being done to prevent them from reoccurring.

The recent shooting at Stonemason Douglass High School was right near my hometown in Boca Raton, Florida. I felt particularly emotional and devastated because I’ve been to that campus many times for sporting events. I felt the chills knowing that the hallways that I had once walked through were under attack and covered in bodies.

When will it be enough? When will something be done to stop mentally unstable teenagers from being able to purchase a gun? What kind of country doesn’t allow teenagers to purchase alcohol on their own but grants them permission to purchase their very own assault rifle? Something needs to change regarding the gun laws due to the number of times that horrific events, such as the Stonemason Douglass High School massacre, have occurred.

Those innocent victims left for school that morning not knowing that they would end up either injured or dead. They said bye to their parents on their way to school and never made it back home. Children’s learning environments should be a safe space that promotes comfort and care. Children and teenagers shouldn't have to go to school each day living in fear due to a potential attack or shooter.

Mental health issues are one of the major reasons that these attacks are occurring; however, the biggest issue is the gun laws. Mental health issues, in essence, are internal problems that individuals feel on a personal level. A majority of mental health cases are disguised until the individual lashes out on either themselves or others around them.

Therefore, we can not say that any teenager has the right to purchase a gun because no one will truly know whether or not that person has a secret mental disorder or a violent agenda. In the presidential response to the school shooting “mental health” was emphasized as the major issue that needed to be addressed. However, this is just a minor part of a much greater issue. Mental health can be treated step by step; however, this will not solve the shooting and the gun issues due to the fact that a majority of mental health cases are disguised. The 19-year-old shooter at Douglass high school was able to put on an act as he walked in to purchase his very own assault rifle.

There was no way to judge this boy by his cover; therefore, his mental health issue and plans were kept a secret until he lashed out. Mental health issues are all around us; however, we can not distinguish the individuals who have a violent agenda versus those who genuinely want to be helped; therefore, we can not provide teenagers access to deadly weapons.

Our government and laws must start enforcing stricter gun laws in order to prevent more innocent children’s lives from being taken away. The younger generations are being exposed to traumatizing, horrific acts of crime and violence at such a young age and they will never be the same. It is the government’s obligation to make sure that children grow up and are educated in a safe, nourishing environment as opposed to an environment in which they fear random acts of violence. In order to help restore the peace and comfort that used to be prevalent amongst all schools and communities, the gun laws must be changed and access to violent weapons must be prevented.

Cover Image Credit: Hakan Erenler

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Cornell Fraternity Reprimanded For Hosting 'Pig Roast'

"Continuing to allow such students to prowl a college campus rather than face expulsion appears a rather questionable decision set forth by Cornell elites."

After receiving numerous reports, recent investigations were launched leading to the uncovering of a rather appalling contest used to determine incoming pledges of Cornell University's chapter of Zeta Beta Tau.

The fraternity was found guilty of administering a competition in which pledges were awarded points for initiating sexual intercourse with female students. However, unlike many similar contests popularized through rushes hosted by fraternities across the nation, Zeta Beta Tau coined their particular competition the "pig roast" in honor of their unique tiebreaker ritual. Should two or more pledges find themselves at a tie, the one who sleeps with the largest woman wins.

After the university's investigations confirmed the legitimacy of their reports in January, Zeta Beta Tau has been placed on a two year probation period in which the fraternity is required to employ a live-in adviser in order to enforce the proper conduct of current members and regularly educate them on the issue of sexual assault. In addition, members will be expected to take part in a minimum of two campus events in recognition of Cornell's Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

The question remains, however, whether a slap on the wrist such as this has truly done the women involved justice. Or, perhaps, presuming the acts were consensual, these women were only victimized through the humiliation of being unknowingly chosen for such a ritual rather than the sexual act itself. Therefore, can one lawfully designate this an act of sexual assault?

If a woman consents to a sexual encounter, she has not suddenly fallen victim to her partner. Rather, in this case, she is suffering the consequences of sleeping with a perfect stranger whose motives remained unclear. A brief look at any news source today would prove that this aftereffect is seemingly minor in comparison to the many things that happen to women who make similar choices. Although, this is not to say that the women involved deserved to be used this way by any means.

While arguments from either side of the issue of victimization may very well continue to remain a matter of opinion, it can be universally agreed that the actions of the Zeta Beta Tau members were resoundingly wrong based on natural principles. Another's body is not to be disrespected and sexually exploited for one's gain. Thus, continuing to allow such students the privilege to prowl a college campus rather than face expulsion appears a rather questionable decision set forth by Cornell elites.

Cover Image Credit: Guest of a Guest

Related Content

Facebook Comments