That was the last thought I had. I was sick. I was tired. I was exhausted from feeling unwelcome in a place where the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes are labels for the content of my character, for who I am as a person.
Tired of the menacing stares and questions about where I am actually from. This was the place I was born, and yet, it never felt like home. I always had to question my place, words, and actions. I had to be a “good Asian,” to meet the expectations of every white person whose eyes looked down on me.
Is it too much to ask for a sense of belonging in the place that you were born and raised in? Is it too much to ask for a say in how your people are treated? Is it too much to ask to be able to feel safe and at home in your own skin? Or am I just supposed to be grateful for “all this country has given me”?
I turn around.
I see my parents, grandparents, great grandparents. It was their fight—their fight for survival. Those that made the choice to leave their home country, their motherland, for what so many called a “better life.” In many ways, they found it: better jobs, education, and opportunities for their children and grandchildren.
They bear the weight of a great loss: giving up their own dreams and aspirations to try and make it in a country that promised them better.
They taught my aunts and uncles this too. To be good Americans. To believe in the dream of a better life. To be grateful for all the riches this country has to offer.
But at what cost?
The cost of losing one’s mother tongue or one’s culture? The cost of having to deal with racism? Discrimination? Judgment for how you look, act, speak, and where you’re from?
For my ancestors, the trauma of war, poverty, and death might have outweighed the price they had to pay to live in this country. To them, it was a small price to pay.
While they may be grateful for all this country has “given them”, I am still searching for the deeper truth.
The painful truth and history of western imperialism, colonialism, and war. To understand the pain and trauma that was passed down, generation to generation, inflicted by the country that we now so nicely call “home.”
Although this “home” is no doubt a part of me now, I still set my sights, and sails,
For a new land,
An old land,
I’m leaving for the one my ancestors called “home.”
Editors: Emily X., Joyce S., Nadine R., Anoushka K.