Alright! Week 24 of #TWmemorymondays. This one is difficult to put to words, but I'm going to try my best!
As long as I can remember (age 4) I was cognasant of knowing my family didn't fit into the American prototype. Swipe to see a photo of my family - I was 4 there and my sister was 1. We didn't have the language or look of that model American family, and everything around me reminded me about it. Media for sure! The library, the store, restaurants, churches, books, school, community classes, etc.
I remember the contrasting feeling of entering a Asian setting vs a white space. Walking into the home of my parent's friends who are all Asian...I could see that my parents were fully who they are in their humanity and complexity, but they were seen in their humanity and complexity. They talked in Cantonese, ate comfort food, and they moved with ease.
Then entering a space that was predominantly white, I could feel the divide of being other. Like entering a white space like this homeschool co-op we were part of when I was 5. It was like there needed to be an extra ounce of energy that white people needed to approach us in conversation. Even in the friendly interactions, I knew in my gut we were seen as one dimensional - we were the Asian family. In my perspective, my parents moves and talked different in that space. There needed to be mental decisions of whether to speak to each other in Chinese or English. How to present ourselves as presentable and outstanding. Over the years, I never felt full inclusion. There was never that feeling of being known as complex beings.
Obviously there's comfort in being able to relate to people you have things in common, but this feeling goes way deeper than that. .
Flipping between the two world's was so jarring. And exhausting.
In present day, it makes me think about how much of my Chinese attributes have I erased so that the experience becomes less jarring. Feeling diminished to the color of my skin is the worst feeling...but have tried to escape that by denouncing my Chinese identity so that I would be seen as white as possible?
Have I participated in self erasure to make my experience less jarring?
I'm not sure. But what I do know is that that feeling I felt as a kid is birthed from the systematic problem of white supremacy and xenophobia (and probably alot more systematic issues). In the white space, the uncertainty from people comes from fear of what is foreign - because we didn't fit that standard of what a true American looks and sounds like. They were probably not conscious about the, but that's the power of systematic racism - it's thick in the air we breathed then and still now.
#TWmemorymondays: A painting inspired by a memory every Monday of 2018. Connecting abstract art to real life. Week 24/53. 'Erase' / 8x8 in / mixed media on paper