Asian American History And My Identity

Asian American History And My Identity

How I discovered what I am and who I am.

I got to take an Asian American History course this year at my University; that is huge. Asian American history is often overlooked, ignored, or, dare I say, undervalued by educators, schools, or, once again, dare I say, America. I, an Asian American woman, was never formally taught of Chinese coolie labor in American plantation systems, of Japanese Internment, or even the murder of Vincent Chin which took place 30 minutes away from my hometown in Detroit, Michigan. I was never taught any of this until I enrolled in Wesleyan University's pilot Asian American History course.

I am certainly not the first or last university student who needs more classes regarding Asian American history. I am certainly not willing to let my identity and the identity of so many others in America go untaught, unlearned, and even just unheard of. Asian Americans have indeed sacrificed their blood, sweat, and tears alongside other "Americans" and yet our history, our woe, and our triumphs go unsung. Why is that? Why is this pan-ethnic identity unrecognized to have any value or meaning to the construction of America, and, moreover, why is it disconnected from American history altogether? Who, ultimately, decides what makes the cut into our history books and into our national mindset?

University students have long been the sole driving force that demands such programs such as Asian American History. On Wesleyan University's campus, I see great strides and support towards creating a formal and official Asian American Studies program. Asian American history has been a crucial aspect in shaping America; and yet, the invisibility of the study and the lack of value invested into the study by college and university administration have put the demands at bay. Only this year has Wesleyan offered Asian American History as an American Studies course. I, a naive and unaware student, took this course and was then exposed to the plight, the power, and the people that all culminated and created Asian American history. There is, however, a lack of security in maintaining this study at my University. So, in order to combat this, students have rallied together to voice and demonstrate the undeniable need to learn of the obscured history of Asian Americans.

There are countless movements and campaigns made by students which address the University’s neglect. For example, the Asian American Student Collective on Wesleyan’s campus (AASC) has crafted a photo campaign which uses visuals to tell viewers why Asian American studies is a necessary addition to the University and, moreover, a legitimate and powerful history that certainly merits an educational program. Below are a few images I selected from the AASC photo campaign, "Why do I need Asian American Studies?"

I realized, after taking my very first and only class that ever focused on Asians in America, that I too desperately need to continue my educational odyssey in this field. You can't learn everything in a 13 week semester after all. But, at the very least, I've realized that my ignorance and lack of awareness regarding my own history is not my fault; it is, therefore, also due to the greater American education system that has filtered my history out of the textbooks, out of the classrooms, and out of the minds of Americans. We need to change that.

So, why do I need Asian American Studies? Without Asian American Studies, I wouldn't know that my identity is interconnected to a vast and powerful network of strong-willed and passionate people who survived racial oppression and are fighting for our history's recognition; I wouldn't know that I am not just a girl who was "born in China and raised in Michigan"; I wouldn't know that my racial duality is accepted and beyond acceptable. I wouldn't know my history.

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America Doesn't Have A Gun Problem, We Have A Parenting Problem

Making an impression on your child at a young age of the dangers of guns can be a huge difference in having a future mass shooter, or a law abiding gun owner.

Let me start this off by saying, taking away guns from people is probably the most ridiculous idea.

Second of all, I would like to make a point that raising the age of buying a rifle to 21 is even worse, and would only cause more problems, as well as not aiding in accomplishing your goal of ridding the country of mass shootings. Now that I have established my two cents on what everyone has been talking about referring to gun control ideas, let me give you a disclaimer:

This article may piss a few people off, and that's OK.

However, it's important to understand this is only an opinion based article. I'm not going to throw at you anything resembling statistics, facts, or citations. Why? Because that's not a pleasure to read, and I don't want to have them thrown back at me. Please understand that if you want to argue with me, feel free to. I probably won't make an effort to respond, nor will I try to read it, because it's completely OK to have different perspectives on certain subjects. But by all means, go ahead and try. You're only wasting your time arguing over a subjective article.

(I'm mainly talking to the liberals in particular that have been proudly displaying their ideologies all over my social media platforms without having ever picked up a firearm in their lives, while acting like they know everything about any firearm ever made because they once deduced that AR in AR-15 meant "Assault Rifle.")

Which it doesn't...

Look it up...

The problem America is having with guns is that kids will learn the power a firearm contains through video games. The gore isn’t the problem. It’s the constant repetitive shootings in movies, video games, TV shows, and newspaper articles that all kids are being exposed to without actually going through proper safety training and having someone of an authoritative figure in their lives tell them that it’s not safe to point a gun at anyone while they’re at their spongey brained age of 5 or 6.

Growing up in Northwestern Minnesota right on the border of North Dakota, hunting, fishing, trapping, and camping were some of my favorite things to do while growing up. I shot my first rifle at the age of 6. My dad handed me a .22 and told me to go shoot at a license plate. I shot at targets for a year and I eventually made my way up to hunting rodents that would cause problems on my Grandmother's land.

The first living creature I ever shot was a red squirrel. Fun anecdote right? Most midwesterners know the problems that come with them. One day, my dad took me to find a nest. I found one lone squirrel. At the age of 7, I took my first life. That was the reason why I will never take a human beings life as long as I live unless it’s in defense of my home, my loved ones, or my country.

I had witnessed what a small caliber rifle can do, first hand. The squirrel no longer looked like a squirrel. My dad had me pick the rodent up, and carry him to our burn pile where I discarded the corpse. I will always remember that moment.

In that moment, I learned what death was.

Since then I've hunted big game, and still to this day, I still feel some remorse for taking any animals life. Do I have fun while I hunt? Yes. But that remorse is the difference between being a bloodthirsty monster, and a law-abiding hunter that loves the taste of venison.

That’s the difference between responsible gun owners and those who buy firearms with the sole purpose to take as many lives as they possibly can in a small amount of time. The AR-15 doesn’t need to be the one that’s getting chastised. Most AR-15’s are owned by responsible gun owners, who have taken a course or two in firearm safety, or had authoritative figures teach them about firearms and the power they have behind them while they were young and it made an impression on them.

I, for one, had taken hunters safety at a very young age. They teach you how to properly and safely operate a firearm of any kind, and what can happen if you don’t. It teaches you a perspective. It teaches you right from wrong. When handling any weapon. They're not a toy.

They end lives if they're in the wrong hands.

These people that are buying firearms in order to go after human lives weren’t taught these common midwestern lessons that I learned at a young age. The Florida teen high school shooter practiced in his backyard shooting targets. But if you watch closely, you can tell his inexperience is quite conspicuous.

A lot of people have seen those posts on Facebook or Twitter saying that millennials are the problem. The generations before us used to bring guns to school and stow them away in their vehicles or lockers or shoot them at recess. This actually proves an interesting point.

Those generations were taught at a young age the right from wrong with firearms.

Those generations had parents that sat their kids down, taught them how to shoot, how to hunt, what to shoot, what not to shoot, and what actually happens if you shoot something you’re not supposed to.

Guns have changed since 1776, but the real problem is the people, and the way we raise them today. People no longer take part in the simple pleasures of trap shooting, target shooting, or hunting. People are distracted by violent video games, dangerous behaviors in movies and TV shows, and whatever devastating news comes over the social media feeds.

Do everyone a favor, teach your kids the importance of gun safety before they take on the teachings of modern entertainment outlets.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Blank Slate, And It's Okay

Original poetry for when your thoughts don't seem to align or fill up space.

This poem came to me during a time when I felt so overwhelmed with my thoughts. In these thoughts, I found doubt and uncertainty about what I wanted for the future. I had to remind myself that it's okay to not have the answers, to have this blank slate of sorts. However, I know that a permanent blank slate stunts the growth for dreams. I was aware that my slate had to be filled. This is to the dreamers who have blank slates: it's okay to fill them now.

You think too often or you think too much

It may seem as if your thoughts come out in a rush

But it’s ok to have a blank slate

Maybe it’s a thought that was once dominant,

It ruled the world of yours and all in it

And then, too swiftly, it became unimportant

A blank slate

Or maybe it was shifted out with a different thought,

The later, having filled more space

Created more color or meaning

It’s okay to have a blank slate

To not want to add anything else to your mental pallet

But please, be aware for a blank slate could become permanent,

An unending maze of never being able to fill in the space

A winding road of nothing and pieces of unknown

No color to call ‘mine’ and meaning that says ‘none’

Above all else, don’t allow a blank slate to be the work of someone else

For it belongs to you

Too many try to erase space or create space in thoughts that don’t involve them

Thoughts that maybe were once about them

Thoughts that maybe they once occupied

But a blank slate should be created by you and for you

Ruled by you

Filled by you

Conquered by you

So, a blank slate is ok

But don’t let it stay that way

Your mind belongs to you

Your thoughts belong to you

Even in our moments of uncertainty

Even in our hours of sadness and anger

It is your space to fill or erase

Maybe it seems strange to some

And the stares are sure to ensue

Maybe it angers others

And they feel you are uncaring or unkind

But it is this blank slate in which you can

Think freely or escape freely

Whatever you decide, please remember

That a blank slate should not keep you confined

It should not keep you blank

It should calm you within the moment

And provide a safe space for you and only you

So, be careful, be aware

That a blank slate for too long can keep you chained

To never return again

Keep a blank slate

But don’t let it stay that way

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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