The only thing they can’t take away from you is your education.
I believe in the power of the aesthetic education, of reinvention of the imaginative. I begin to think of Asian Americans and the sorts of subjects they study, the storylines they’re pressed into. ‘Hard’ sciences make up the core curriculum. ‘Soft’ sciences are frowned upon. We may be programming the computers, but we’re not writing the manuals.
I think of South Asians in sweat factories. I think of the rickshaw driver with a master’s degree. What does all of this mean? What does education mean to the Asian community?
With all the English words I’ve learned, I still can’t give back my parent’s their dignity—the dignity they lost as immigrants to this country, working in kitchens and cleaning houses, from being treated like subhuman by an unkind, discriminating, racist, prejudiced America. What is the meaning of this education, an education of silence? They’ve kept their heads down and elbows tucked in; they went from being politically active and alive in their home countries to recommending silence to their children— obedience, anything to keep the status of the model minority. We shouldn’t start something. There’s no need to start something. We’re okay now. Think of your family back home. Think of the sort of lives they live—how people are truly in poverty and despair. Appreciate your opportunities. Work hard, take their crap and we’ll be okay.
My struggles are minimized, are called petty and insincere. There’s a greater global discourse in the making and if I don’t involve myself in that, then I’m acting selfishly.