I think part of my struggles with racism feel really insignificant compared to what my parents had to endure, and still continue to endure. Because I have English fluency, which is honestly the language of power here. Because my parents had to learn English mid-life and have a strong accent, they have had to endure a lot of crap from people because people don’t think that they know what they’re talking about. And my mom still asks me to talk in public spaces, even though she’s actually more than proficient in English now. “You, you guys are great at English… You guys order for us.” I’m already more well off in a certain way than my parents. I got to go to college. I graduated from college. I have a job that I is nine to five. And my parents still work every day including holidays. And that’s not a nine to five. They work at a gas station convenience store type thing. It’s just a different world.
There’s millennia of culture to understand what it might mean to be Korean. And there’s hundreds of years of being American, but for the two to come together. There’s nothing there’s no like there’s no precedent…There was no space to have that conversation growing up. I never learned about it in school. I never had a teacher that looked like me. Just those kinds of things, right? There’s a scene in Black Panther I think about often, where you see Killmonger as this little boy looking for home, and he just can’t figure out where home is. And even though this is a completely different situation, I just felt like he was so relatable in that moment of vulnerability of just trying to figure out where home is. And I see that in myself. But then I also see that in my parents too, who have left their home to be in a place that honestly never welcomed them into their home. So, they don’t really have a home that they feel they truly belong to either, right? And they don’t have many friends here. They left their friends and family back in Korea because there were no jobs. There was a lot of political and economic turmoil in the late 80s and 90s that made them leave. It’s crazy, the Korea we see now and the Korea just 30 years ago–there’s a wild difference. But anyways, I think about that a lot. ‘Home’, and what it means for me, what it means for my parents, and how we’re all still trying to figure out what it means for us.
…Someone who has … a strong sense of I have a strong sense of what’s wrong and right. I love learning and listening to other people.
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‘Indivisible’ is an ongoing portrait and interview project, sharing the stories of racism and identity formation.
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