Breaking the Language Barrier to Fight Anti-Blackness with our Asian Parents

"As a privileged East Asian, I have been complacent in the violent systems of oppression in our country, a country that upholds white supremacy while pitting minorities against each other. I cannot ignore the fact that one of the Minneapolis police officers who stood by and watched while George Floyd was murdered was Asian American, or that he has a history of past complaints, including using excessive force against a Black man. George Floyd’s name has been added to a long list of modern-day lynchings, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the list goes on. We cannot stand by and watch this list grow any longer."

This article was written for the Black Allyship @Mochi column. Mochi Magazine is an online destination for Asian American women to share their stories, experiences, and passions. Click on the link to read the entire article.

Breaking the Language Barrier to Fight Anti-Blackness with our Asian Parents, June 18, 2020

Excerpt: Each time I tried to fight against the racism my parents perpetuated, I stumbled inarticulately, lacking the Korean vocabulary to fully communicate with them and express how their words and actions were hurtful and misinformed. Throw in the complexity of traditional filial piety, and my parents dismissed my efforts as disrespectful: “You are always trying to teach us. You are not the parent. Stop trying to teach us.”

It is frustrating and disheartening when we cannot communicate more socially equitable ideas to older generations; not only is there a generational gap and a cultural barrier, but for many second-generation Americans, there is a language barrier. A 2008 study on  Korean American families found a discrepancy in English and Korean language fluency between adolescents and parents, which contributed to “difficulty in establishing meaningful communication.” Frankly, many of us get tired of arguing, and we give up. For the past decade, my parents and I have purposely avoided discussing race so as to not disturb the delicacy of our relationship.

I am now seeing the error and danger in my passivity and silence.


Read the rest here.

(Featured image by Giannina Ong, background text from Dear Asians Initiative)

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