Resilience

My mother grew up during the war.  She was 13 when Chinese communists and Korean dis-loyalists colluded a hostile takeover of her homeland.

Korean War People

After war (AP archives)

After having to leave the north where she was born, she never saw her home again.  She never really talked about it, but I don’t think she knew what happened to her parents.  And many of her siblings perished and were lost from her.

mom & me

I remember mama

I didn’t grow up in war directly, but I was privy to the damage that it caused my mother as the pain and anger weeped out of her.

As a Korean child of Korean immigrants, I have conflicted feelings  towards the Chinese and Japanese (along with the despot Kims of the North).  And I have trust issues with white Americans, too.  These conniving powers hell bent on destroying a small nation that just wanted to be left alone.

But what a phoenix Korea turned out to be:  from the ashes born a creature of resilience and determination.   Yes, we are.

War, illness and famine will make you their favorite grandchild.

You’ll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.

You’ll chop onions and pieces of your heart

into the same hot skillet.

Your children will sleep in a suitcase tied with a rope.

Your husband will kiss your breasts every night

as if they were two gravestones.

––excperted from “What the Gypsies Told My Grandmother While She Was Still a Young Girl” by Charles Simic

 

 

 

 

 

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James Beard & The Fu Manchu Syndrome

I’m not Chinese, but what the fuck James Beard?

img_1953-e1524439815379.jpg

Which one is more fucked up than the others?

Why did James Beard and Alice and Martin Provensen think it was okay to fall into the lazy foot steps of stereotyping and demonizing a whole demographic into Fu Manchu?  Oh, with a foreward by Mark Bittman no less.

IMG_1955

What the fuck, James Beard?

Hey, I like fancy food just as much as the next person–who doesn’t want to eat raspberry and rhubarb together?  But why is his estate allowing these outdated racist images to remain in his book?  Like, doink, this is not the 1950’s.

IMG_1954

Inscrutable!

Though?  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s most likely due to our narrow-minded and ignorant Orange-American president that it feels like we’ve been set back 60 years so we might as well be in the fifties with all of its backward notions and nostalgia about things that ‘never was’ the way you thought it was.

Dig?

“Chinaman”!
“Laundryman”!
Don’t call me “man”!
I am worse than a slave.

Wash! wash!
Why can I wash away
The dirt of others’ clothes
But not the hatred of my heart?
My skin is yellow,
Does my yellow skin color the clothes?
Why do you pay me less
For the same work?

––excerpted from “Chinaman, Laundryman” by Hsi-tseng Tsiang