What are your intersections?
I am Chinese and am a cisgender female
What is your background growing up?
My parents immigrated to the States from Hong Kong in their 20's - both college graduates. I was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in a middle class neighborhood called San Leandro in the Bay. And I was homeschooled or had independent studies with a public school all of my grade school and high school education. Another big piece of my up bringing was being raised in an Evangelical Christian conservative household where I was exposed to an all Asian christian community and than an almost all white christian community post-highschool. I feel like these are all such choppy pieces of my life, but they all work work together in shaping who I am today for better or worse.
How do your intersections affect you?
It's complicated, because it's hard to separate out one piece to another. Something I've been thinking about recently is the undertone of growing up female and non-white. Just in being a girl, there are SO many things that influence how I see myself. Like in the church or going to class or pretty much anywhere I look: people in power/leadership are white cis men. That tells my little mind that there is something inherent in me that makes me less qualified to have positions of leadership or power.
For example, I've played guitar since freshman year of high school. But I had no examples of women from anywhere whether its personally or in media that were good at guitar. Of course I'm sure there are SO many...but I wasn't exposed to any. So I believed (subconsciously) that women are just not as good as men at playing guitar! Therefore, I didn't practice as much and push myself. Then, in a way, it did become true for me...I didn't excel at guitar. Piano, on the other hand, I had very many examples of excellent female pianists, and I excelled in it. So far as to getting my piano performance degree.
So on top of being female, I have the message coming in from every direction that to be truly beautiful, American, and liked, you have to be white. And last year, with #TWmemorymondays, I explored the ways in which I heard this message. I watched how people treat my parents differently for having accents. I also saw my parents wanting my sister and I to assimilate the "best" way possible, because they knew and I knew: you will get the farthest in life in American by embodying whiteness. Because it's a white supremacist society - white people are threatened by foreigness and black/brown bodies. The white supremacist society rewards those who uphold whiteness - even if you will never be seen as equal or deserving to call this country your own.
All of it trickles down to now, where there is embodied shame of not being white...because that message doesn't disappear once you acknowledge it. I still see that my ethnicity is usually ignored and disregarded in white spaces - that being because white people do not know how to honor black/brown culture and they don't know how to listen. So my dream for this series is to create space for us all to listen and learn. And also to give voice for those who don't have that sacred space to be heard.
#TWintersectionalfridays: Space to explore intersections of identity and systems of oppression. Space to tell your story. Space to listen. Every Friday of 2019. // Week 01/52. 'First' / 8x8 in. / mixed media on paper