I was thinking about you last night and decided I should write you out an update. I figure while you might be seeing it all from wherever you are (and I figured you’d like that cause who knows where you ended up xD), you’re probably busy writing, getting to know the answers to really big questions that we can only hope to understand, and doing what people do after they’ve left this place (chasing beautiful things perhaps?).
So honestly–we’re still in the shadows–things are changing no doubt, we’re getting some exposure, but we’re still there–the unpolished ones. The survivalists. The foul-mouthed. The dirty.
I’m not saying things haven’t moved, and I’m not saying I don’t do what I have to do and sometimes that involves the polish–but like everything else–it’ll wear off–and it’s kind of like we talked about in the past – where’s our representation? The fallen, the corrupt, the ones w/o all the connections, the ones who have to hustle it out day in and day out to make it work (or at least that’s how it feels, but data-wise I think I can still say that).
In that way, honestly–I miss your voice and what you had to say, and that piece of a larger whole–standing together even at opposite ends, individuals just representing from their own side–in that way, I still miss even just the idea of you.
Because that was something.
I think I’m writing this to you too because man–as far as I think I’ve come in ways–it still feels like an uphill battle. It’s like I can suit it up, chat the chatter, walk the walk, but in the end, it’s like I’m walking up the hill with 100lbs of meat on my back with a stench that grows deeper each day–and I don’t know if I’ve gotten used to it.
As far as we’ve come, we aren’t. The brown SE Asian American man, still has to take it. In all my years professionally, and I’m supposed to be in my prime, I’ve really only seen a handful of us reach at least some rung in the ladder, and sometimes when that happens–it’s all a wash. They’re the outliers. I’ve noticed that White Folks–they’re happy to do the professional dance with Asians from different countries, and obviously to a certain extent us–but there’s a difference.
It’s kind of the same thing over and over–speak your mind, do the same things the WF’s do–and they don’t know how to deal with it.
They’re afraid and scared if those Brown men are smarter, quicker, or simply more determined than their privileged-got-too-used-to-control-even-though-they-got-lazy selfs. I’ve actually seen some of the worst of the worst lately and it’s taken me for a ride.
And there’s still the ladder of Brown versus Brown. Asian versus Asian.
Probably didn’t catch this as you wander and chill–but this Korean guy filed a lawsuit because he said he wasn’t getting promoted because he wasn’t Indian American. The model is still out there to divide and conquer. Off-shores and outsourcing. Professional caste systems. Fear and Visas to keep the rungs hung as they are…
But onto other things–I became a dad–can you believe that shit? It’s crazy. Married, daughter, step-kids. A family man in some ways. And honestly–I never knew how much I’d love someone that looks like me–how much I can’t help but want to make sure she’s a strong, wonderful, smart, and determined Asian American girl who grows up to be an amazing Asian American woman. I get scared though too–am I being too hard, am I being too soft. Does my inter-generational trauma, born out of the war in Vietnam and all the subsequent aftermath, that need to survive–what will she have to deal with? Will it make her harder than she needs to be? I worry too that I don’t get the time I need with her. I feel guilty sometimes. But I have to grind, and I can’t lose myself either–self shamed guilt wrapped up in the selfishness of creating a little human.
Sometimes I still feel like I don’t know where I’ll land. Like I’m close but I’ll die not close enough, and I wonder how I’ll impart that to my daughter.
And then I know I’m still who I am.
I still love to get lost among the trees. I still love the feeling of not sleeping, my body feeling the rush.
I’m still dirty.
I still love to fuck.
And I know that I’m still broken–that piece of the Vietnamese diaspora that an individual of the community still knows, even if 3rd gen+, the piece of pieces, the aftermaths, different for each individual, but the pain in the collective still there, no matter how far we come and go.
I still love all the things that made me who I was and who I am–
and I try to reconcile that with trying to be polished.
Because I’m also cognizant of what it means to be an Asian American Brown Vietnamese SE dad–that perception alone I don’t care about–but for my daughter–I have to polish it up some days.
But maybe I’m getting old too…
because I’m okay with that too,
even if I can still be out of control.
A dog still knows its master right?
It still heels when needed. When it feels suffocated. When deep down, it knows it needs to survive, because it still wants to play when it can.
Is this the dichotomy of being who were are?
But I’m building…it’s slow…it’s small, but in a lot of ways that’s all I care about–those little ripples for the community and myself even though I still talk about us being in the shadows–I don’t mind the shadows–but I also wonder about the perception and the reality for us as a whole–what I already talked about.
But I can only do so much right?
Resist In Peace,