Anyone who knows me know three things about me – #1- I love Harry Potter, #2- I have embraced being fun sized, and #3- if I had to declare a role model, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be it.
So when the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, Ohio announced that there would be a Notorious RBG exhibit, almost immediately I texted M to make a girls’ trip out of it. She secured a lovely Airbnb, our exhibit tickets purchased, and we had a tentative agenda for two-days of food indulgence and good conversations.
However, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but to be burdened with safety concerns. Being of Mongolian-Chinese descent, in the year 2021, I had thought being verbally and physically bullied were just bad memories growing up in Flushing, New York. Never would have I dreamt such concerns would arise again in such ferocity. But sadly, I was wrong.
The previous administration routinely engaged in inflammatory language to rile up their cult following while stroking their own egos and disregarded the consequences. It does not take much for any minority group to be the scapegoated, much less being called out in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. A Korean GOP candidate recently joined in the tirade singling out Chinese immigrants hoping to endear herself to the cult members. She brazenly made incendiary statements followed with a pompous declaration that she was entitled to say such things because she was Korean. However, what she fails to understand, is that it makes no difference if one is Korean or Chinese or Japanese because to some, we are all chinks & gooks and all should go back to China, although many of us has never been.
After serving 11-years in the United States Army, I feel like I have earned the right to feeling safe in my own country. I shouldn’t have to warn my elderly mother to only leave her house if it was on fire. And a perfectly simple girls’ trip shouldn’t be complicated with strategies of how to minimize my Chinese-ness so that I am not targeted.
I use to ponder when I will be American enough. But now I understand it was never about assimilating in order to be American. No. It always has been about how to minimize my foreignness.