In the past few months, I’ve been reclaiming my love for art–literature, films, visual art, fashion, and everything that two years of the International Baccalaureate program has detached myself from.
I’ve no doubt relished in art about experiences that I do not share (I finally read Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) and consequently explored new perspectives and become present to the various privileges I have. Nonetheless, I find myself inevitably returning to Asian-American artists. In doing so, I’ve discovered that my connection toward Asian-American art does not stem from my ability to relate to its content–after all, I’ve indulged in countless books and films about the high school experience and the struggles of being a girl. But what Asian-American art does is unravel me, leave me raw and bare, expose my facades, and force me to deal with my identity in a unique way.
Airports blocked, fire on the streets, tear gas, and police brutality–this isn’t a 20th century war zone, but rather, a series of mass demonstrations that began in June to protest against the recent Hong Kong extradition bill. This bill would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China for judicial hearings, despite Hong Kong and mainland China operating on a “One Country, Two Systems” principle that allows Hong Kong to retain autonomy in the legal and judicial spheres. These protests have ignited into chaos on both sides. However, despite China’s claims that the police are the victims, the broader implication of these protests highlight the flaws in mainland Chinese politics.
With the ever-growing trend of media representation for Asian-Americans, I often fall into ruminations of how my own family culture has shaped who I am today, and how my parents are similar or different to those of my peers.
When I think of my family, instead of a certain smell or an emotion, I’m present to the sounds of my home. I hear the jabbering of my mother as she reprimands my brother for his grades slipping, the bickering between my brother and I at the dinner table, my father chuckling as he watches Pirates of the Caribbean yet again, and more of my mother yelling for who knows what reason this time.
What I never noticed until recently, however, was the lack of explicit affection in my home. We don’t buy each other gifts for holidays or birthdays. My mother says “I love you” to me once a year on my birthday, and I don’t recall that phrase ever leaving my father’s mouth. Sometimes, my mother opens her arm for a hug and I push her away before locking the door to my room. When I spend my summers away at summer camp, I never call my parents out of my own will; I don’t yearn for their presence, and instead I appreciate the fraction of independence I can get. At first I thought this was typical–that no one exchanged hugs with their parents, but even when I discussed with my other Asian-American friends, some of them were shocked at my family’s lack of affection.
I think I’ve become emotionally detached in some manners due to my home culture. For instance, on the last days of school or on the last day of summer camps, I find it uncomfortable to hug my friends goodbye. I don’t register that I may never see some of them again. It only hits me when I’m sitting alone at home on a random Tuesday afternoon, my chest aching with a lonely hollowness. I can text apologies and expressions of gratitude and affection, but when I try to speak them aloud, my lips freeze as I try to formulate indistinguishable words. Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not stone-hearted and emotionless. I can bawl my eyes out at a sad movie or laugh until I fall out of my chair. But when it comes to expressing how I feel about someone, I struggle.
It’s not easy, but we’re working on it. I saw my mother cry for the first (and second, and third) time while watching a movie together in China. My father asks how my days went as I send him to work every morning. Even my brother shows me fragments of his life; he has finally started to respond to my inquiries about his teachers and friends. Maybe I’ll stop rejecting my mother’s embraces. Maybe we’ll watch movies together and unapologetically cry. Maybe…
My first year in policy debate, the topic was about increasing economic and diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China. One of the seniors at that time delved into the critical literature surrounding US-China engagement and its parallels with plastic surgery. As a freshman, I remember being interested, but hardly understanding the implications for beauty having a central role in international relations. This year for Theory of Knowledge (an IB class), I had the opportunity to finally dive into the politics of aesthetics. This isn’t a proper post per se, but the following are my notes of my research:
June is pride month — an honoring for the Stonewall riots and its contribution to catalyzing the LGBTQ movement, and an unapologetic celebration of being queer. Now, this concept is all cupcakes and sprinkles until the pitfalls of the movement are exposed.
My very first post on this blog was: “What does it mean to be Asian-American?” Now, almost 18 months later, while some of the ideas in this blog post has stuck with me, others I have discarded. In honor of May, AAPI month, I would like to reflect on my experiences as a second-gen immigrant and how I have begun to form an answer to this question.
With the urgent desire to increase American competitiveness globally, especially considering the tech race with China, our school system is putting heavy emphasis on STEM education, particularly the develop of artificial intelligence. The establishment of the Committee on STEM Education and the Every Student Succeeds Act portray the federal government’s desire to increase accountability in k-12 schools, with the ultimate desire to maintain American world leadership.
I was among one of the thousands of students who skipped school a few Fridays ago to attend the Youth Climate Strike. While I learned a lot from the inspiring speakers and micropolitical organizations, ironically I took away the most from what failed to happen.
The youth internet seems indifferent about what is happening at the border…until memes started circulating about ICE’s arrest of 21 Savage. Most people laughed at the possibility for 21 Savage to be British (although, this claim is allegedly confirmed). Yet, 21 Savage’s arrest only further proves that the cruelty of ICE deportation’s is not just a myth, but a reality that affects people who have already made the United States their home. Additionally, Trump in his State of the Union Address spent a good fraction of his time rallying for a border wall and using fear as a tactic to oppose loosening immigration restrictions. But, what is actually happening at the border and to immigrants?
Chaos at the Border:
Using tear gas to disperse migrants (banned by the military even during war)
Regents of the University of California v. DHS required the administration to keep DACA for now but
High likelihood of a Supreme Court ruling → could decide DACA’s fate next summer
Recent increase in DACA renewals thanks to activists!
Public Charge Restrictions:
Public Charge restrictions can bar those who are likely to rely on government benefits for their primary support
New changes alter what it means to be a “public charge.”
Lowered standards to block people who might become a public charge at any time
List of public benefits expanded (Medicaid, care at home, Medicare savings, SNAP, housing assistance). Immigrants who rely on these benefits may not be allowed to enter
New factors included (too old 62+, too young <17, limited English speaking, health conditions, etc)
These restrictions promote racism and ableism
Construction of the border wall:
Trump wants $5 billion, which caused the longest shutdown in U.S. history due to congressional gridlock
The border wall breaks laws including: Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Could cause the next government shutdown if Congress doesn’t reach a budget deal by February 15
Now, the arrest of thousands of immigrants can be ignored just as easily as one can’t help but notice the magnitude of the administration’s immigration policies. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but being able to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis comes from a position of privilege.
“Liberal” American institutions–whether it is schools, fashion, Hollywood, business, etc–love to brag about how “diverse” they are. And we, too, celebrate diversity. After all, being exposed to a variety of perspectives, worldviews, and experiences, is probably net good compared to being stuck in a bubble of regurgitated ideas.