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Don’t tell me women are not the stuff of heroes,
I alone rode over the East Sea’s winds for ten thousand leagues.
My poetic thoughts ever expand, like a sail between ocean and heaven.
I dreamed of your three islands, all gems, all dazzling with moonlight.
I grieve to think of the bronze camels, guardians of China, lost in thorns.
Ashamed, I have done nothing; not one victory to my name.
I simply make my war horse sweat. Grieving over my native land
hurts my heart. So tell me; how can I spend these days here?
A guest enjoying your spring winds?
My Shanghainese parents just finished high school in 1966 when the Cultural Revolution happened. They sometimes share their experience with me, even though my mom doesn’t like to talk about it. Here are some things that stuck out for me:
There’s not much I can give to back up these claims, as it’s mostly oral history. My father is willing to give more details about his experience, but the last time I asked my mother about it she started crying, so I decided not to press the issue.
- When my dad was walking to school he saw his PE teacher jump out of one of the school’s windows. According to him, the teacher’s body landed a few feet away from him.
- Because my parents were of the “enemy class,” their homes were ransacked. My mother remembers frantically hiding precious heirlooms in the walls with her closest friend helping her.
- That same friend who helped my mother was very outspoken, so the Red Guards would publicly humiliate her and her family to “break her.” She was then sent far away from Shanghai in the “Down to the Countryside” Movement. My mom never saw her again.
- My dad somehow ended up as a Red Guard; he did inventory for them. Then they found out about his class status and kicked him out.
- Both my parents were sent to farms for “Down to the Countryside.” They were sent to Changning, an island off of Shanghai. They count themselves lucky because they weren’t sent to Sichuan or a mountain village, as life there was supposedly much harder. They stayed on the farms for 3 years before getting the chance to leave.
- Both my parents hate the communist party for taking away everything they had (my great-grandfather was a successful business man pre-communist China who died with what would be $20 today in his pocket), but they actually like Chairman Mao. They blame the Cultural Revolution and the resulting chaos on the crazed mob mentality of Mao’s followers.
Thank you very much for submitting this. Oral History is important, and just as necessary as “Academic” history.
My family too.
Let me start this by quoting the eloquent and well-articulated Mr. Whitley:
“If Uncle Sam doesn’t get a big dose of turtle blood real soon, we could be in real trouble. By we, I mean the United States. By turtle blood, I mean the secret ingredient China is using in its dastardly attempt to kick us off the top of Mount Olympus.”
In this article by AOL Sporting News (lol. AOL.) Whitley then goes on to pseudo-snarkily comment on China’s athletes and their successes while accusing them all of using drugs and ~exotic~ home remedies. The constant substitution of “The People’s Republic” for “China” is another jab at exotifying China and her athletes.
And that’s not even the end of it! Whitley continues with “Chinese cheating was state-sponsored. If a newborn had big hands and feet, she would be plucked from her family, sent to The People’s Republic of Swimming School, pumped full of mystery supplements.”
So instead of congratulating and applauding a legendary and mindblowing feat, Whitley turns this into China using unsavory tactics to beat America. I guess it’s just that unbelievable that an Asian female is something other than a helpless cartoon white guys jack off to.
Go play in traffic.
Colorblinding I luv yew
This morning, there was a woman in the elevator with me as I headed to my office. I’ve never met her before. We make small talk, and she was friendly. We get off the elevator and walk in the same direction.
Then she asks me, “Where are you from?”
I get that a lot because I’m Asian-American and I’m not a native New Yorker.
I say, “California” because I really am from California. I grew up there.
Then she says, “No, no, where are you really from? Where are your parents from?”
Excuse me? What?
Now, here’s the thing. She wasn’t being racist, or malicious, or anything like that. She seemed geniunely interested and asked nicely. She really sincerely did not know that question can be offensive.
I tell her, and she replies, “Oh, I’m from Montreal.”
She went into her office after that and I went on my way, but it got me thinking.
Even being in a diverse city like NYC, this random woman still viewed me as someone who didn’t originally come from this country. Now, look, I get a lot of racist shit, usually from some drunk guy, so I don’t let the comments bother me. But today was different. I truly think this random woman did not know the non-offensive way to ask me where I was “really from.”
This incident reminds me of the stories the Jeremy Lin coverage generated, and how the Asian American Journalists Association had to put out a document to the media about the difference between Asian-American & Asian, Jeremy Lin & Yao Ming, and Taiwan & China.
I try to see the best in everyone, I believe that almost everyone has good intentions, and I try not to let this city’s craziness get to me. Today with this random woman, I choose to view her question as she was simply curious and didn’t know the right way to ask me where I was “really from.”
UGHHHHH. A couple of times I’ve actually said to people, “I know what you’re ACTUALLY asking, so just ask it.” Or sometimes they’ll say, “No, where are your parents from?” To which I truthfully say, “San Francisco and Tracy,” or just “also California.”
Of course, it depends on the person and the tone of the conversation at the time, but generally people get the hint.
(What I thought was interesting was while on a cruise in Australia back in 2005, was that when people asked this, they were Australians who had never actually met an Asian American who wasn’t from Hawaii. And I was happy to indulge/educate. It wasn’t that they doubted our American-ness. They were just genuinely intrigued. North Americans from/in North America, you should know better.)
Because being Asian in America means being a perpetual foreigner.
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