Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Song of always

Damn, I don't have time to be writing this but I was reviewing some of my older writings and experiences from before I started blogging.

There are certain memories that fill me with a desperate longing to be back on that campaign or in that moment. I sometimes live, stuck in the glories of yesterday, musing about all the joys and tears of long ago - and lo! Out spring a new crop of tears. There's really only one thing that gets me as teary, and it's the topic of immigration.

Almost all of my best friends are the sons and daughters of immigrants, or immigrants themselves to this country. Immigration is not just around me, it is me. I am it. My story.

It is a dream of America that ties our hearts all together - a dream that hard labor can and will reap bountiful fruits, a good life, a good education for the kids (or for yourself). It is a dream of an open door, a window, a bridge. All these symbols of freedom and opportunity and success.

When I think back on, or think about the Asian Americans amongst us who don't celebrate our immigration histories, who barely know the struggles that our parents and grandparents and so on faced, I wonder how we can pretend that we are not part of the vital struggle to contribute to these United States. It amazes me that we deprive ourselves of the richness of the knowledge and wonder of embracing our lives for what we are. What our ancestors were. I know that I wasn't always proud of being the child of immigrants. It marked me as different, speech-impaired, almond-eyed and yet the focus of stares.

How can we reconcile these forever truths? The truth that American history has not always been so bold in revealing her nature, that after we jumped off of ships, we were coolies for hire, migrant workers, that we were considered mongrels and perils and less? The truth that after being used for our skills, our strength, our knowledge, we were shunned and tossed aside, rejected and ejected from entering what we call the Beautiful Country?

True that, some days these thoughts drive a stake into my heart the size of the once and only Golden Spike in Utah which sealed two railroads into one, a marriage of convenience and commerce, but we were the bastard children excluded from the ceremony. Nevermind that we gave our lives, limbs, and hearts away.

True that, lonely days echoes of internment shriek like a gale force in Tule Lake which isolated us, abandoned us, and yet we brought forth some kind of self-government. Yea, even oppressed, we fought for ourselves, our country. Whether through playing baseball within the barbed wire or fighting on the frontlines, we fought for justice, even if our service, our humanity, our citizenship was not recognized.

True that, sleepless nights like this, wile my smooth hands swim across the keys, my friend's mother turns thread into jewels, birds, flowers. She, the modern day Rapunzel high above the city, locked in her Chinatown (my town, your town) fortress for pennies on the score. Her head bent intently over this spring's latest design. What of her designs?

In this land of the free, I can only say that our wounds, our love, our forgiveness, our hope are all part of the talk story, the Paj Ntaub, the backbone of America. Immigration weaves around me and through me and I sing our hurts and sorrows, our blessings and tomorrows.

No fears, I am grateful to my ancestors, and to all those who tread the path before.

This is my daily prayer.

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