Celebrating 18 Years in America today!
Wow that is the age of a young adult and now I feel old!
I have to say I am grateful for the journey here thus far. This country, with its ideals, values, and progress, has helped shape who I am today. Even more so, the people, cultures, experiences, conversations, and opportunities have expanded my worldly perspective and gave me the courage to dream big. That's the truth, and I can't take away the good that it has done for me.
However, with everything that has been going on recently, not just the recent week, month, or year, but I'm talking about years, I can no longer vouch for the perfect American dream that we are selling here. And I'm not sure why things bother me now more than it ever did. Perhaps hitting that "30" mark has lowered my BS meter limit.
But let's talk about the "freedom" that we have here. If you know me, you know I love freedom. I was always the kid that spoke her mind and did what she wanted, no matter the consequences, country, or culture that I was in. And I think we all love freedom. That's why we are here. Now I realize though that freedom comes with a price, one that a lot of us don't want to pay.
Think about the freedom to tell other people to "go back to their countries". Think about the freedom to hurt another person based on their differences. Think about the freedom to curse someone out on the internet. Think about the freedom to "not wear a mask" around people. Think about the freedom to "host a large party" during the pandemic. Think about the freedom to go out and just buy a machine gun. Think about the freedom to take other people's lives because of "sexual frustration". Think about the freedom to rob, steal, take what isn't yours. Think about the freedom to do what you want at the cost of everyone else. Do you want that kind of freedom? I don't. And I know supposedly there are punishments for a lot of these "perceived freedoms" that people think they have. But no punishment can make up for innocent lives lost, families broken, permanent scars left mentally and physically, relationships destroyed, financial hardships caused, and more. And not all who should be punished actually be held accountable for.
With all the freedom, why does it feel like we are in a battle zone? Why is fear a part of our daily lives? Why is violence normalized? Why are our lives at stake for doing normal daily activities like taking a walk or going to the grocery store? Why do people act like they are enemies? Why is there no basic respect for humanity?
I can no longer say America is an example for the world. It has a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. I celebrate today with sadness for those who we have lost and hope for those who are here to fight together.
Yes I am calling out the whole country, not just one individual. Because we all contribute to how this country is today.
It's bad enough that as a woman, I am extra alert, cautious, and scared just to walk around by myself at any time of the day in any neighborhood. Now I have to be even more so because I am an Asian woman?
It's bad enough that I had endured more than one year of mental and physical challenges because of the pandemic, like the rest of the world, now I get blamed for the whole thing because I am Asian?
It's bad enough that fetishization of Asian women, feminization of Asian men, consequences from the myth of "Model Minority", and many other forms of injustice have existed since an Asian person step foot onto this soil, now our elderly and women are being targeted for physical violence and murder?
It's bad enough that we sacrifice everything to come to this country for a better life, to work twice as hard as the people who were born here, to speak more languages than the native English speakers, to contribute positively to the society, just to be told to go back to our own countries, get blamed for taking jobs, have our accents made fun of, get looked at funny, treated as second citizens, and our identities wiped out as we are all labeled as one type of "Asian".
It's bad enough that a lot of the Asian cultures that we come from tell us to put our head down, keep our mouth shut, look the other way, mind our own business, don't cause any trouble or inconvenience to others, just work hard and feed our families, now all that silence and politeness are treated as weakness? Best believe, 5000+ years of history is anything but weak.
This is what I meant when I said "attack on one of us, is attack on all of us". If you think this is only a problem for the AAPI(Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) community, you are mistaken. Think about the injustice in the African American community. Think about the injustice in the Latin community. This is a problem for all of minorities in this country. This is an American problem.
Where is the "freedom and justice for all"? Where is the "melting pot" where all cultures and people are respected and accepted? Where is the "most powerful country" that is supposed to be an example for the world? Where is the country that I once was proud to call home? Did we forget that this country was built by immigrants who were not born on this land? Did we forget that people of color is a friend, a family member, a colleague, a romantic partner, or simply a member of the society? Did we forget that the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the things we use, the space we occupy, the services that we enjoy are mostly like made happen by people of color?
We are so busy comparing, judging, and hurting one another. We want to feel better about ourselves by putting others down. We want everyone around us to look like and think like us. We are obsessed with power in this country. We love being right. There is absolutely no effective communication, especially between those that think, look, live, and love differently. This has to CHANGE. And everyone has a part to play. Don't expect others to do the work for you. Don't expect systems to change on their own. Don't sit back and watch others suffer. Do something. Send a text, have a call, give a hug, show some love to those around you. Stay informed. Live by example. See something, say something. Call people out for being racist, sexist, inconsiderate, and ignorant. Stand up for those who can't defend themselves. Be an ally to people of color. Really listen and learn.
I had to say this because I am hurting. My people are hurting. This country is hurting. And I can't say that I want to represent them if I don't speak up about this. I can't say that I want to highlight and promote different cultures in my music without addressing their struggles. I can't say that I am proud to be Asian without shattering all the misconceptions that come with the label. I want to send love to my AAPI community. I want to send love to my BIPOC community. I want to send love to my immigrant community. I want to send love to America. We need to heal.
What's the whole point of traveling?
Have you asked yourself that question? I certainly have. Before I take a trip, during the trip, and after the trip. I ask because I don't want myself to get lost in the motion of moving from one place to another, scanning through touristy sites, taking pictures, and dragging people along just to complete the full travel itinerary. I ask because I have gotten lost, only to realize how much I have missed out after the trip was done. I ask because I don't want to take this planet or the people that I travel with for granted.
My parents and I just got back from a 3-week, 7 cities, 4 countries trip to Scandinavia Europe. It was another amazing family trip for the books. I loved meeting friends who we haven't seen for a while in their native habitats and getting to know how they lived or felt about those places. I loved driving through farmlands with animals and fields of crops. I loved walking into local artisan shops and art galleries. I loved trying foods that I have never tasted before. I loved how cities in the same country can be so different. I loved how each city and country had its own personality. I felt lucky that I had the opportunity to take this trip. However, I did not like nor was I prepared for the ever-changing weather. I did not enjoy visiting one city for as little as one-day and then traveling to the next. I did not like unpacking and then packing for about 20 times. I did not like the invisible pressure of capturing architecture, nature, scenery, food, people, and selfies for social media and my own photo collection. I did not like that most of our conversations on the trip were about where to go and what to see next. I did not like how dispersed we were at times, when we were taking our own pictures at different spots.
I also have forgotten to observe the locals walking by who are carrying out their daily routines. I have forgotten to connect with them. I have forgotten to take a deep breath of the fresh air of a new city and country. I have forgotten to just stay still and soak in the culture, history, and soul of a new city and country. I have forgotten to savor the taste of a new cuisine slowly. I have forgotten to fully appreciate the people who I was traveling with. I have forgotten to hang onto those travel moments that happened then and there, and might not repeat again.
All of these feelings made me want to reflect on the question: "What is the point of traveling?" And when I look around, it seems like traveling has become something totally different in this day and age. For some, it's about collecting the number of cities/countries, passport stamps, experiences for bragging rights. Some travel to gather content for their social media platforms. Some travel mainly for photography. Some travel solely for business, moving from meeting spaces to hotels to restaurants. Some travel to specific places just to keep up with the trend and conversations. Some travel during certain holidays because others do. Some travel to hot places when their home turf is cold and to cold places when hot. Some travel just for specific sports and activities that they can do at certain places. Some travel out of obligations to visit certain people and maintain those connections in their lives.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with those reasons for traveling. I'm simply pointing out that some of us might have forgotten the purest purposes of traveling: to connect, explore, and experience other parts of the world. We travel for selfish reasons and it's always about what we can get from other parts of the world, whether it be pictures or gifts to show off. Rarely do we think about how we can contribute to the places that we visit. We act as if this planet is at our disposal and we go wherever as we please. We want comfort and luxury with a hint of adventure when we travel. We don't consider the environmental impact that we make as we travel, from the fuels that airplanes burn to single-use items in the hotel. I myself am very much guilty of all of these.
I just want us to reflect on why, how and where we travel. I want us to try and hold onto the purest purposes of traveling. I want us to think about how we can contribute instead of what we can get from the places that we travel to. I want us to take a moment to be still and fully appreciate the places and people that we visit. Instead of stressing out about what outfits to wear, I want us to consider ways that will minimize the impact on our environment as we travel. This will definitely be a challenge for all of us, but without our planet, there is no point in traveling.