Updated: Mar 12
I’m exhausted. Tired of all the lies,
All the words you spin into this web that’s somehow supposed to protect me from the world out
I know, I know you wanted the best for me. For your daughter to be safe.
safe from both sides:
from the hatred in your own country because our ethnic minority group was there first
from the hatred in this new land because we weren’t there first with the colonizers
but you still could have told me.
you could have...
... you could have been so many things:
proud of your culture
the one who i’d go to for questions about my history and people
but instead, i cannot
i don’t open my mouth and utter the burning questions of mine,
because i know somehow, somewhere inside, it makes you uncomfortable
so i turn to whoever else i can, screaming a desperate plea
[ tiktok, instagram, DearAsianYouth, discord, my literal AMERICAN history teacher that
knows nothing about west asian history ]
i grasp at every bit of knowledge, every bit of culture, of community,
because i have none
because you, my idol, my role model, have said nothing
because we play the game of assimilation
and somehow I, the one who rejects it, has the privilege to be victorious, to assimilate
but you will never because of the twisted rules and orders this country is made of
i’m sorry baba
i’m sorry for everything you went through
your native tongue illegal as your grew up, forcing you to strip yourself and clothe yourself with
the garb of your colonizers
i’m sorry for everything you still go through
the racial and ethnic hate here in “the land of the free”
the way you had to give up all your identity even more so, just to be accepted by mama’s
the same family that calls us slurs because we aren’t pasty white
the way that everything of your culture is taboo everywhere, throughout the world,
even in our home
i know you never told me
but i found out
and all of this makes sense
-- your behavior, your secrecy
but i’ll never stop being proud of who I am.
because they will never win
never erase who we truly are
--- they deserve nothing but to see our culture thrive and continue
passed down generation to generation
for you baba, and for all those who came before.
Author's Note: This piece was written through the lens of a biracial individual who is half European and half West Asian, and the daughter of two immigrants. Though my identity most definitely is more complex than that, this basically sums it up pretty well so one can understand the writing piece. However, it was intentionally written in a way that anyone dealing with similar issues can relate.
Writing is, in my opinion, a form of art. And art can be understood in many different ways. but my intentions with this piece were to illustrate the struggle of having a parent who is not proud of their culture due to societal pressures, primarily due to colonization and Eurocentric ideals. I really wanted to bring up how there's two instances of assimilation -- 1. assimilation into another POC culture (specifically another west asian culture in this situation), and 2. being needed to assimilate from that culture into a more "western" culture such as that in the U.S. I also briefly touched on how privilege can help us in assimilation in western cultures. Due to me being born in the U.S as well as being half white, I am granted a lot of privilege that my relatives do not have. And hence, it is easier for me to assimilate in the U.S. It truly is a complex concept, but to those who had to experience instances where your native language and culture were made illegal (like my father) or to those who have to deal with the outcomes of that situation (such as myself), I just want you to know that you are not alone. It is a difficult journey, but you have us all with you. And, helpful tip, TikTok is a great place to start interacting with people of your community :)
Cover Photo Source: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201109-what-other-cultures-can-teach-us-about-forgiveness