August 30, 2010
My dad is first generation Chinese American. In the car ride home today we talked about my decision to move to Atlanta – how scared I am because I don’t know anyone, don’t have connections, don’t have a job – and he started telling his dad’s story. My grandfather came to the United States when he was 12 years old. His parents bought him a name and social security number and sent him by himself. Both he and his parents knew that they would never see each other again. Occasionally they might write, and if they’re lucky, a phone call. But at 12 years old, he had to accept that he would never see his parents again, and his parents had to have faith that he would live a better life in the US.
Fast forward to the future to me, the second generation of this family. This is one of the reasons behind my tattoo. I have a responsibility to be the best person I can. I have to reach for the stars and work hard and believe in myself and live up to the greatness of my name. I believe I feel these responsibilities because my family’s struggle to come here is so tangible. I’ll admit that I feel less connected with my mom’s family because they’ve been here for generations. I have no sense of her history. But because I knew my grandfather and my grandmother, both of whom left their families for a better life, and saw their struggles, I feel more connected to their cause. I live a great life now, and I’d argue probably better than most. Every day I appreciate the sacrifices my parents made, and the obstacles their parents encountered.
For anyone out there who thinks that immigrants can’t/don’t/won’t contribute to America, you’re wrong. You’re completely wrong. If anything, those who can trace their heritage all the way back to the Mayflower are the most out of touch with what this country is about. My grandfather cheated the system to create a life in America. My grandmother memorized the sounds of the questions and answers to the citizenship test, which I’m sure most natural-born citizens couldn’t even pass. My grandfather worked every day of his life in America until he went to the hospital. Though my grandmother never learned English, she raised two brilliant children and worked until she couldn’t.
Those who witness the struggles or bear the burdens of freshly immigrating here are the ones who bleed the brightest, most American red blood.
August 29, 2010
I’ve read a few articles on the SpouseBUZZ blog about military partner life, and this article about families being “whiners” really caught my eye. (And this article about a family forced to leave their home the moment the husband deployed, but that’s for another post.) One of the main points she touches on is the fact that so many people in this country seem removed from war. And this is why I believe the Wikileak was so important. For some reason, we all stopped being angry about the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. And by “we” I mean the civilian population.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2010
It’s been a long day, and tomorrow will only be longer. But I just have to say a few words about the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, because it’s really incredible.
I’m currently a consultant with the film festival, and I’ve seen a good number of the films. Tonight I saw Camp Victory, Afghanistan, which follows the events that unravel over three years as the US National Guard tries to help train the Afghan Army to bring stability to the country. I hadn’t realized how little the media actually covered regarding the rebuilding of this entire nation. And furthermore, I had no idea how complicated it is. I mean, I always knew how complicated it all was, but seeing things happen and listening to the struggles on both sides…it’s eye-opening.
After I saw Camp Victory, I spent some time with the Youth Producing Change filmmakers. Seeing them all here from all over – Afghanistan, Kenya, Texas, Slovenia, L.A., Brooklyn – and watching them interact has been priceless. It’s so great seeing youth engaging in arts and human rights and activism and wanting to learn more. I love it. I love it all. It always gives me hope to see young, peaceful youth trying to live a good life and share themselves with others.
Anyway, that’s what I wanted to say. If you’re in NYC, come out to the festival. It’s the best $7-$12 you’ll spend this summer. (well, one of the best.)
June 12, 2010
A short list of things I don’t want to forget and may explain later.
1. Talking about Buffy makes me want to re-watch Battlestar Galactica.
2. I’m angry that there are people in the world who are anti-choice, and make it their lives’ mission deceiving women for no one’s benefit.
3. The BSG soundtrack is so good.
4. If it weren’t for art, science wouldn’t know how to think outside the box.
June 9, 2010
I was talking with a friend the other day about politics, specifically the left vs. the right. At some point I said that I consider myself a centrist, and my friend looked at me and said “You? You’re not a centrist. You work for a human rights organization. You’re definitely left.” I laughed but didn’t give it much thought.
But now I’ve been giving it some thought. That shouldn’t be the case. I’d say more often than not, if you asked someone if she thought human rights were important, she’d say yes. Everyone cares about human rights. It just seems that some care for certain human rights more than others. Just because someone believes in big government and social services, it doesn’t always mean she fights for human dignity.
And what about those “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” folks? Like my mom and my manfriend/boyfriend/person/thing? They’re both for human rights, but don’t believe the government is efficient. (That was my stance for a long time as well. Still is, but that’s another story…) Just because they don’t support the universal health care plan, it doesn’t mean they don’t believe everyone deserves affordable, quality health care.
Anyway, just some things I think are worth mentioning.
March 1, 2010
I’ve been following this thread on Change.org about an undocumented student and her experience in the United States. The post is in honor of the DREAM act week of action. I’ve talked about my own complicated views on immigration law and immigrant rights, and this thread is just a continuation.
The question in this thread seems to be about the law and the money. It’s sad that we can’t seem to have a discussion about basic human rights without talking about economics and taxes. I get it. While Andrea’s family paid taxes, I’m sure there are plenty of illegal families who don’t. And I hear the argument “Why don’t they become citizens?”, which is another point I used to agree with.
How easy is it to acquire citizenship? And how much does it cost? And can you apply in languages other than English? It’s not easy. It’s not cheap. And you need to know English. We don’t seem to make it easy, so how can you expect that a girl who just turned 18 would have the resources to become a citizen?
The other point that someone brought up was: “People in this country that are here illegally don’t have rights (except human rights)….plain and simple!” Except human rights? So which rights don’t illegal aliens have? (Someone replied to my reply to generously inform me that the UN doesn’t create laws other countries have to follow, which is, of course, something I am well aware of.) It’s just not a statement I understand, and if you do, please explain it to me.
These issues really come down to simply being American. We’re born with our citizenship. We didn’t work for it (though some of us did). We benefit from taxes because we happened to be born here. How does that make us any more worthy than the people who’ve worked and lived here as long as they can remember? We take citizenship and nationality for granted. I think this video by a girl who went to Haiti (before the earthquake) explores how spoiled we are, and how citizenship and nationality is most definitely a human right:
January 19, 2010
Today I thought “Hmm. I’ve been so busy with preparing for school that I haven’t had time to even think about another blogpost.” But I found something in the final hours of the day. I read another article on human trafficking at Change.org, but this time it was an apology to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for our lack of progress. As much as I usually enjoy Amanda Kloer‘s articles, I found this one particularly useless and painful to read. Yes, there are many who believe racism is dead in the US because now we have a black president. Yes, the Golden Globes were a clear example of our seemingly frivolous ways of spending money here while many besides Haiti across the world suffer. And yes, this article in the San Jose Mercury News may be a feel good piece about teens making a difference in the Bay Area.
But these are not things to apologize for. Read the rest of this entry »