Me with my grandma, 2011
My grandmother was born Year of the Dog–eight cycles ago. She will be 96 this year. I am reminded of a proverb a friend once said to my grandmother and then translated for me: one wave pushes the next wave forward. It’s the idea that each generation propels the next generation.
The force of my grandmother’s wave continues to push me forward. She survived occupation in WWII, immigrated to a new country, married a man she barely knew, finished high school at night, and ran the family business (a small grocery store) after my grandfather’s stroke.
My grandparents also found one of the few developers willing to sell land to non-white people and built a house, so the family could move out of the back of the grocery store. (When I was young, my dad went to our local grocery store almost everyday. I think it’s because it felt like home. After all, a grocery store was his first home.)
Though my relationship with my grandmother is complicated, I have deep respect for her. She is the wave that propelled my father, and my father propelled me.
So to her and to my dad–and every one else–I say Happy Year of the Dog!
Here is a guide and reminder I found helpful for practicing self-care.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
― Audre Lorde
“Self-care in times of distress: Create your own “self-care toolbox” (here’s a list of 51 self-care options)”
One year ago we lost 49 (mostly queer, mostly Latinx) humans at Pulse.
Fifty years ago the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriages (like my parents’) were to be legal nationwide.
I wish I had a way to explain how inextricable these two events are to me, beyond their shared date.
The best I can do today–as a mixed race gay man–is to say love is an act of courage.
Sometimes going to dance at a club is an act of courage. Sometimes loving openly–and publicly–is an act of courage. Sometimes explicitly and boldly supporting those we know is an act of courage.
People have loved beyond society’s boundaries of race and gender for as long as society has had boundaries of race and gender. And that “transgression” is often met with hostility, violence, and even death.
I know you as my friends are neither hostile nor violent when it comes to race and gender. So instead I ask:
What people do you (and I) merely show tolerance rather than embrace warmly?
What words do we use that may unintentionally erase or belittle those who are different from ourselves?
What other ways can we be gentle, be loving, and be kind?
To the straight/white folks reading this: It is our responsibility to do this work, even and especially when it does not seem to directly affect our own lives.
To everyone (particularly the queer, Latinx, and POC folks) reading this: May you find love and courage to sustain you today, and everyday.
“Principles for Working With Emotions
All emotions are true (there are no inauthentic emotions)
All emotions are messengers that bring information about our values and our needs
All emotions are energy in motion
All emotions have a particular frequency (vibration) in our bodies
There are no good emotions or bad emotions, only good and bad relationships with our emotions
Our choice (how we handle our emotions) determines whether our emotions have a positive impact”
(I don’t think I realized the courage my grandparents had in coming to this country until now. My grandfather fought Communism in China, only to face the Chinese Exclusion Act here. My uncles became “paper sons” to get here. My grandmother was told not to come to parent-teacher night because of her accent. My grandparents couldn’t buy a house in most neighborhoods, because they weren’t white. And that was legal.
American tried to #BanThis family, but three generations on I’m still here. And to the new Americans and refugees and DREAMers and greencard-holding permanent residents already affected by recent policy changes, this is your country too.
(Read about the #BanThis campaign)
My dad being goofy
When we look back, we question how America could have been so fearful that “Lady Liberty” could exclude by law Chinese immigrants, turn away boats of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, or intern her own citizens of Japanese decent. And yet here we are again.
And specifically to my Asian, Irish, Italian, and Jewish friends, we were one treated by this country the way Muslim/Middle Eastern/Arab people are now. We know the struggle our ancestors endured to make it here and how deeply American our families are. It’s up to us to hold open–or pry open again–the doors of liberty and welcome.
The statue of liberty is just that: a statue. It’s up to us to pick up her beacon of freedom.
Refugees detained at U.S. airports challenge Trump’s executive order