I know I’m behind on posting about my last treatment. But, let’s take a break from all that cancer talk.
I hate politics. I guess that’s strange since I just got my MPA. But, it just brings out so much ugliness. And I hate controversy, people telling me my opinions are wrong, etc. But, I can’t not get involved in the conversation when it involves my heritage.
I will begin this with the disclaimer that I am proud to be an American. Don’t get me wrong here. I know that being in this country, I am privy to so many more opportunities that people in other countries can only dream of. It truly is a blessing. But, the things happening here today are just so appalling. Not just in politics, but that’s a whole other blog post for another time.
Both of my parents were born in Vietnam. Now, you know and we don’t have to have that awkward conversation. We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about!
“Where are you from?”
“But, I mean, you’re Asian. So where are from?” (Because emphasizing “from” completely changes the question.)
“Were you born here?”
“Yes… in America!”
I am American. But, sometimes saying, “I’m American,” is not enough. It’s ironic that my family sacrificed their entire lives to come to America for a better future. Here we are now, but we can’t even be considered American. Asian-American, yes. Even that term separates us from the one thing my parents worked so hard for.
My father has worked his way up by working in blue collar jobs my entire life. He showed me the benefits of true hard work. Most people I come by don’t even know what a machinist is. But, he takes pride in what he does. Honestly, I don’t get machines either. But, when my dad talks about the machines and parts, you can tell how much he values what he does. He’s turning 60 this year and he is still going to work at 5 AM and coming home at 8 PM. He still takes all of the overtime he can get because he knows that he is lucky to have a job, any job! He’s been in and out of the hospital for over a month and all he can talk about is how he needs to get back to work. My dad always told me that if you have a job, you take pride in it and you do it well, no matter what. He struggled to even get to this country. He had to leave his whole family behind. When he arrived, he had nothing. Look where we are now because of his determination.
My mother’s family was well-off in Vietnam. But, my grandfather knew they had to leave. Imagine how hard it was for my dad, one man, to get to America. On my mom’s side, you’re talking about my grandpa, grandma, their 7 kids, and 2 grandchildren. They couldn’t even get to America. They had to spend a year at an immigration camp in Malaysia before they could even come into the country. Then, they had to learn a completely new language. They had to learn about how to use money using Monopoly money. My mom said they saved up so much money because they didn’t know how to spend it. They only knew how to go to the grocery store to shop for food.
Of course, with the help of our sponsor families, my mom and all of her siblings have worked from nothing to something. These manual labor jobs that are too good for people now are the same jobs that got my family where they are today. They’re the same jobs that they’ve been working in for decades now.
This is the whole reason I am here today. When people are surprised with my strong work ethic, I tell them I get it from my parents. I remember what my dad said. Whatever I end up doing, even I don’t want to be doing it, I’m still going to be the best. I can’t imagine going through what they had to endure. I don’t want their efforts to go to waste. They came here for me.
Growing up, we all wished we were like the white kids. They made fun of us for bringing weird lunches to school or using chopsticks. So now, I hate sandwiches and I don’t know how to use chopsticks properly. People talk to my parents like they’re stupid or try to take advantage of them because they assume they don’t know English. First of all, that’s not the only language in the world! Secondly, my mom works at a bank. I’m sure she knows when you’re trying to steal her identity.
When I meet people, they still tell me that I speak English very well. Hmm… I wonder why? Maybe because I am an American?! Or when they say, “Wow! You barely have an accent.” Is that supposed to be a compliment?
I could probably rant about this for an entire novel. But, I can barely write anything that makes sense these days. So, I’ll just stop here. I am hoping and praying that one of these racist fools does not become our next President and ruin the dream that my parents fled Vietnam for. You know how I am when it comes to my family. They are my everything.
P.S. You can read a good summary of Trump’s immigration plan here. As a child of immigrant parents, it infuriates me. Also, America was built by immigrants! Please register to vote, even if you don’t agree with me.