Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Part 1: Laying the Groundwork
I always knew that this day would come and have been preparing my children for it since they were two or three. I read books and articles, hoping to put it off as long as possible. I secretly gave them tools to fight with, without actually telling them what the fight was all about. I did not want to taint their innocence, but I knew they had to be ready.
Still, I was unprepared for how sad I would feel when my kindergartener told me about her first brush with a racist slur. Read more
My parents always emphasized that although I was ethnically Chinese, my citizenship was American because I was born in America, “You can even be president someday—unlike us—because you are a natural-born citizen. Read more »
My mother is one of the world’s greatest cooks. She never reads any cookbooks, and her dishes are never fancy or complicated. Read more »
We came up over the rise as the highway curved and my breath caught in my throat. Read more »
My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.”
“That was you, not too long ago.”
(Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you. Read more »
Last month, eight graduating seniors surnamed Nguyen (pronounced Win) from Presentation High School in San Jose, California (my alma mater) tickled the Asian-American blogosphere by combining their senior quotes in the high school yearbook. One or two words under each photo created their “Nguyen-ing” “We know what you’re thinking and no we’re not related. Read more »
After Indian American Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was convicted of bias intimidation, I sent the very long New Yorker article about the case to my teenagers so that they can understand what kind of digital footprint they leave whenever they do anything online, and to remind them that regardless of what they might actually be doing, they need to be aware that sometimes those actions may be perceived quite differently by others, including people who do not understand technology and culture, including people with power. Read more »
I missed the first week of Linsanity because I was caught up in fighting the racist China-fear-mongering Pete Hoekstra political ad that aired during the Superbowl. I remember feeling beleaguered at the time, like we still had a looooong way to go until the elections in November, and if this was just the beginning…
I was surprised to learn that the mainstream considered Jeremy Lin an unknown who had come from out of nowhere, because even though I know nothing about sports, even I knew who Jeremy Lin was (courtesy of Ryan Higa and Kev Jumba). Read more »
Two years ago, my father’s choir at the University of Hawaii was invited to sing at a big international diversity concert at Lincoln Center in New York for Martin Luther King (MLK) Day. Choirs from around the world had been invited to sing together, and a Hawaiian choir adds instant diversity with its multicultural population of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Caucasians and native Hawaiians. Read more »
The Sunday after Thanksgiving: The day we pack up, gratefully drive back to our own home in our own town with our own way of doing things, and are stuck in the car together for hours and have no choice but to talk to each other. It is a time to reflect on the (peculiar) people we met and the (wacky) things that happened, and it is a chance to talk to the kids about what is really important to us as a family. Read more »
My parents say that there is a Chinese saying (there is always a Chinese saying) about how distant relatives are not as good as nearby friends. To illustrate, they recall the time our car broke down on the winding and treacherous Pacheco Pass after midnight and how our neighbor, Mr. Shigematsu, came to rescue us and did not get home until after 2 a. Read more »
As I child, observing the world as it was presented to me by the mainstream, I often decided to shut doors myself before anyone actually told me to.
Growing up in the age of Farrah Fawcett, I knew that one had to be blond in order to be beautiful, by definition. My horseback riding friends and I knew from statistics that at 10 years old we were already too tall to ever become jockeys. Read more »
“This would be a good day to rob Ann Arbor,” jokes Shi-yi as she waves to another friend she hasn’t seen all summer, “Half the town is here.”
After a summer of family time, it is quite a plunge back into the cold refreshing waters of school life up here at Interlochen where the Huron, Pioneer, and Skyline bands, orchestras, and choirs are about to perform after a week of band/orchestra/choir camp. Read more »
After a long trip away from home, one of the first things I always do upon our return is take all the kids to buy groceries at our favorite Chinese grocery store. I love watching them zip around, squealing as they load up our basket, “Ooooh! It’s been so long since we’ve had cong you bing!” “Xiao long bao! I want xiao long bao!” and “I haven’t seen this kind of zhu rou gan in soooooo long!”
At Tsai Grocery, the kids and I all know what and where everything is. Read more »
We went to the Obon Dance at the Puna Hongwanji tonight. I love first walking up to the temple grounds, totally transformed by the strings of lanterns glowing in the night, the tall yagura platform calling everyone's attention to the circle.
It is always great watching the elegant old ladies from the Japanese dance schools in their matching kimonos and perfectly coifed hair lead the way, their hands so graceful, their faces so calm. Read more »
In the past, when I have written about Islam’s perspective on child discipline, I described it as one where gentleness is preferred according to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the examples set during his own life.
I feel that taking the time to explain, exercising patience and making an effort to try to see things from your child’s point of view are the strategies that are most conducive to producing good behaviour and a calm child. Read more »
Before I came to Michigan for graduate school, the only thing I knew about Michigan was that it was where Vincent Chin was killed. My parents’ Japanese-American neighbors warned me to sell my father’s Toyota 4Runner and buy a Ford Bronco. I asked about safety as much as I did about academics before I decided to come.
This year marks the 29th anniversary of the baseball bat beating that caused the death of Vincent Chin. Read more »
My daughter Hao Hao was once a timid child who cried at every little thing. She even got kicked out of sports camp because she dissolved into a flood of tears every time she got "out" in softball or tag. Once when she was at Leslie Science Center, she cried on a hike through the woods because she was afraid of the spider webs on the trail. Instead of giving in to her tears as the teachers and moms at Chinese School tended to do, the Leslie Science Center instructor simply handed her a butterfly net to empower her to wave away the spider webs as she marched down the trail, head and butterfly net held up high. Read more »
My father and I always sang in the church and school choirs, so every year we celebrated Easter by putting on our choir robes, singing joyously at Easter sunrise mass, and then going out for a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's. After weeks of preparation, we were happy and stuffed and done with Easter by 9 a.m.
Because I went to Catholic Schools, I always had Good Friday and the week after Easter off of school, while the public schools in California had a different week off, so I thought Easter was a straight-forward religious holiday. Read more »
I just finished reading Lac Suâ€™s memoir, "I Love Yous are for White People," a story about growing up poor and Vietnamese American in Los Angeles dodging gangs, alcohol and an abusive father. It was a tough read but a sobering reminder that many Asian Americans do not fit neatly into the model minority stereotype.
Now I am reading Bich Minh Nguyenâ€™s memoir, "Stealing Buddahâ€™s Dinner," last yearâ€™s Michigan Humanities Councilâ€™s Great Michigan Read, about growing up Vietnamese American in suburban Grand Rapids and her fixation on American food. Read more »
On my 16th birthday, a blond classmate was shocked to discover that I would not also, automatically, be allowed to date.
â€œBut itâ€™s a Constitutional right that you are allowed to date when you turn 16.â€
The other three Asian American girls in my class and I all looked at each other. None of us were allowed to date until college. Read more »
In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, given in 1964, he talks about the idea of a house, "We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together--black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other. Read more »
One of my daughter's Jewish friends from preschool once said that she liked coming to our house this time of year because we were the only other people who did not have a Christmas tree, either. Her mother described the conflict her child felt at school having to do Christmas-themed art projects such as decorating trees, which, regardless of what you call them, are still Christmas trees. Read more »
It all started when my husband first asked me to marry him.
I said, "Under one condition, that we never live in the Midwest."
I knew from experience how hard it can be to grow up as a minority, and I knew I wanted my children to grow up on the West coast or in Asia so that they would not have to grow up as minorities, and so that they would not always be "the only one. Read more »
Can my daughter still learn a language with a speech delay?
This trilingual family offers some truly awesome advice we all can benefit from.
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