I am pleased by this invitation from Inheritance magazine to reflect on the concepts that were powerful for me in understanding my identity as an API Christian. I begin by doing a riff on the prevalent stereotype of APIs as “model minorities”.
Being Asian American is complicated. It’s not just about our appearance, language, culture, mannerisms, or values. People who were adopted from Asia and raised in white families are Asian American. People who have been in the U.S. for less than a generation are Asian American. We do not share a common migration story.
One stormy afternoon, Auntie sat with me at our kitchen table. I was in third grade and wildly enthusiastic about everything origami, eager to show off my crane-folding skills. Relieved at a low-key activity to partake in, my bookish Auntie started to fold a paper boat for my cranes to ride in.
I received a call from my Kaki (aunt in Nepalese) in Nepal the other day. It seems she is feeling unwell again, and I am worried her body is becoming weaker day by day.
My grandparents, the first generation in my family to immigrate to the U.S. from Hong Kong, ran multiple restaurants and were considered middle-class. Although they were not rich, they were able to save enough money to invest in real estate where they used most of that money for their current retirement.
When the raging fires had all burnt down, Jerusalem was not a city anymore, but a graveyard. Where once the great Temple of Yahweh had stood, not one stone was left upon another. The Roman army had shattered the great Jewish revolt and all hopes for Jewish sovereignty were washed away in blood.
“Mom, I have something to tell you.” I wonder how many families have been impacted — positively or negatively — by those words and the words that came after. For our family, our lives would forever be changed in ways that we never could have imagined in that moment: when our youngest 16-year-old child came out to us as transgender in October 2015.
Growing up in the church is a hard thing to do. I should know, because I am the daughter of a pastor. Whether it was joining youth group or participating in Bible study, you name it and I was there. I grew up with and continue to attend Epic, a progressive American Baptist church that is predominantly Asian-American.
I grew up watching white people on TV. White families on popular sitcoms always interested me because of how different they were culturally from my own family culture. I often asked my mom why we couldn’t have casseroles for dinner or why we didn’t go on family vacations.