October 14, 2016

Where are you *really* from?

I was in the fourth or fifth grade when I realized I was different. Being quite the homebody has sheltered me within the predominantly white community I grew up in.

I just remember that one day, some of my classmates suddenly didn't want to play with me at recess. It was as if they woke up that morning and thought, "Eden's weird. Let's not play with her." So I played alone. As we got into our orderly lines to go back into class, one of the girls came up to me and asked, "Why is your face so flat?" I stood there, shocked, blushing furiously. What did that mean? Do I have a flat face? I looked around. I guess the only people with flat faces were people who looked like...looked like me.

"Why is your face so flat?"

I still think about that when I look at myself in the mirror.

(This video includes racial slurs and vulgarities.)

#thisis2016: Asian-Americans Respond to Racist Remarks
An editor for The New York Times wrote an open letter to a woman who told him to "go back to China." Asian-Americans responded by sharing their own racist moments using #thisis2016. Here are some of those moments. Warning: This video includes racial slurs and vulgarities.
Posted by The New York Times on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fortunately, I have never been called a racial slur. In fact, it wasn't till I was a freshman in college when I had to have a friend tell me what the slur was. I'm grateful for that. But, as this video shows and accounts from my Asian American friends, people are still calling us by these vulgarities. People are still ignorant and insensitive, pulling Mickey Rooneys when they impersonate us, using white actors to portray us, using us as the butt of the joke at the Oscars. Because, in the end, I guess we don't belong. I guess my 19 years growing up here doesn't matter. Here's a sampling of what I've heard in my adult life.
Acquaintance at a school gathering: "Ge ga goo blah — hey, it's like I'm speaking Chinese. Eden, what am I saying?" 
Guy in Sunday school, right before he asked me out on a date: "Have you ever had mooncake? I don't speak Chinese, so I haven't." 
Stranger who followed me as I was speed walking to class: "Are you Chinese? You should eat at Chinatown. You'd like it." 
After an interfaith choir concert: "Oh, you grew up here? I was about to say, you don't have an accent." 
Stranger on the train: "Hey, can you help me with my Chinese homework?" 
"Where are you really from?"

This is 2016.

August 12, 2016

If I hold my breath.

​If I hold my breath, I can hear my heart beat. And it's beating beating beating, the pulse tangible, echoing within the cave of my chest. I breathe, with each shallow inhale; each exhale, I create a syncopation between heart and lungs.

If I hold my breath, I can feel my thoughts slip from the synapses and slither their way down down down my spine, spilling into my stomach, simmering in the acidity, churning up sickness. I breathe, with each shallow inhale; each exhale, I feed the unforgiving flames devouring my fervent feelings.

If I hold my breath, I can smell the ocean as it disposes of its sediment along the contours of my face, waters rolling rolling rolling, and soon, I am drowning. I breathe, with each shallow inhale, the water fills me up; each exhale, bubbling

with the aftertaste of despair that overcomes me, the haze of anguish that blinds me

the symphony of palpitations of chatty voices of harsh tears crescendos into chaos and I am shaking and when the Players decide to stop

and lets me breathe

only then am I free

July 12, 2016

Tank Man.

While the image of the woman in Baton Rouge standing defiantly in front of police in riot gear is powerful, it is not comparable to the "Tank Man" of Tiananmen Square. Doing so offends the memory of him and all the men, women and children who died during the protests against a Communist government, the men, women and children who had to stand up to as many as 300,000 troops their own government mobilized against them, the men, women and children who have been erased from the history books in China. It offends the memory of the men, women and children, the memory of my family members who disappeared, who were tortured, who died at the hand of their own government's Communist ideals.

In America, we have the right to "peaceably ... assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances" (I want to emphasize "peaceably") as we see this young woman and many others across the nation exercising daily, and even more so (and rightfully so!) these last few weeks. The peaceful "Tank Man" was standing up to a government that did not allow that.

It is a powerful image, but not one to be compared to Tiananmen Square. Different rights, different events, different symbols.

June 26, 2016

Love me tender.

I took voice lessons this spring. Then my teacher moved to Hawaii.

March 14, 2016


Scripture study was profound this morning.