In honor of asian pacific american heritage month, i thought i’d share a bit about my background growing up as a 1st gen american-born chinese. it’s always been a multi-layered experience, & i’m sure some of you will be able to relate.
it all starts with my dad, who immigrated to the us from china right after the cultural revolution with little more than $30 in his pocket. communism had him working a couple years of hard labor on a farm, so when the opportunity came up, he moved to the us to pursue a phd.
my mom followed not long after, giving up her dream to become a lawyer back home so that my brother & i could grow up in the us & have the opportunities that come from holding a us passport.
her 1st job was as a babysitter to help us get by while my dad was still a student. in exchange, the family she babysat helped her learn about american traditions & culture. i still remember our 1st little christmas tree was from that family.
my parents’ lives were full of exciting firsts & heartbreaking realities that forced them to assimilate into a foreign culture.
later, my mom studied to become a nurse since that was a practical job & was always in demand. she took night shifts as a nurse until my brother was born.
i can’t imagine the tremendous sacrifices both my parents made to help get us to where we are today.
yet growing up as an ethnic minority in the rural midwest of america where i was often the “token” asian, i didn’t appreciate any of this. i felt rootless, swaying between wanting to fit in with my white friends & american-ness, or upholding the traditions & culture my parents brought over from their upbringing in china. i was constantly trying to blend in & win acceptance- to prove that i wasn’t an outcast & that i belonged.
i started to resent my “double” identity. i resented not being allowed to have a boyfriend, having to get straight a’s, & taking piano lessons. i was embarrassed bringing my lunch to school, because the other kids always made faces when i pulled out my lunchbox. (isn’t it funny though how dumplings & tofu & stuff is now considered “trendy” & cool? 🤷🏻♀️)
⬇️continued in comments⬇️
5,187 214May 2019
// no, i am not your stereotype. not the pretty asian babygirl to serve your yellow fever. not the model minority with a 4.0 gpa & top honors. not the whitewashed immigrant neighbor. not the daughter of a dragon lady. not the black belt badass. no, i am not your stereotype because all in all, i can be both everything and none of these. i am between the characters you see and the boxes you believe. we are not here to serve your narrative. we have our own stories — ones you cannot erase as much as you try. we are not your stereotype. we are human. asian-americans, this is our new narrative. our new manifesto. asams — who are you? share your story on your own post or comment below with #notyourstereotype all throughout may! ✨// #apahm2019