Dear teacher,

I am not passive. I am not indifferent. I am not quiet. I am not complacent. I am not your model minority.

I’ll tell you what I am when you are done praising the boys and white kids. I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of trying to own up to who you think I am. I’ll tell you what I am. I’ll tell you when I’m ready. I’ll tell you what you failed to see in the first place.

My eyes are not slants. My “I” is not the same as “I need to go to the bathroom” or “I don’t know”. I am not crazy. I am not limited to my disability and race. I have a right to respect and civil rights.

I had needs you failed to reach. I am not created in your image. I am not your quiet Asian. I am not a conformist. I am not that other Asian girl you confuse me with. I am not your pet. I am not a thief. I am not a liar.  I am not a chink. I have armor and you’re saying my name wrong. Stop calling me “you” that is not the same as 宇. My name means universe.

I am daughter and older sister, mentor and caretaker. I am sick. I am strong. I am writer, healer, dancer and poet. I am Mandarin and Cantonese. I am multinational. I am borders and diaspora. I am survivor. I too, am teacher. Let me show you my ways.

Do not speak over me. Do not speak for me. Do not erase me. Do not assume we speak the same language. Do not speak colonization to my resistance. Do not speak white supremacy to my yellow/brownness.

Listening is powerful. Shut up when I’m talking. Don’t speak if it’s to validate your whiteness. Don’t speak if it’s to validate your ableism. Don’t speak over me. Don’t speak for me. Don’t try to erase me.

Here are my ground rules: learn to be an ally. And you better be there when I need you.

First dates & anxiety

SAM_4554 2I haven’t experienced the kind of good anxiety that exists for a long time. In fact, now I feel infinite and I know it will last. I did not expect to feel this good coming out of resuming therapy. I didn’t expect immediacy and long-term. I expected to continue carrying on in the way I have survived, the way I know how. So many things are unspoken. So many things are coming out of the dark. So many scars remain on my skin where only I know where they are.

Today I had coffee with someone who cared enough to know me and perhaps be interested in me romantically. I had been wondering for a while if someone like me, who carries so much and has experienced so much, would be ever worthy enough for love. I even told him that I was disabled. I never said that before, and am newly coming into consciousness within my disability. I immediately wish I took it back, but he smiled and asked me questions about myself, wanting to know more about me. He didn’t ask about my dis/ability. I started my day perfect, feeling more whole and confident. Previous people in my life, not necessarily there by choice, have made me feel broken.

As a sometimes-woman, as a feminine-presenting person, Asian, light-skinned, with an invisible disability, middle-class with working class immigrant values, I know, see, and feel how my privilege and marginalization intersects in my life. There are other survivor sisters who have experienced and still experience violent abuse. Other survivor sisters that have bigger bodies and darker skin carry scars I don’t have, and stories I don’t share. I know I benefit from financial support. I have a college degree. I have a resume that is attractive and an appearance that is cis-passing, a petite body, straight hair and light skin that is not seen as a threat or unprofessional in the workplace. But I have worked as a house cleaner. I have worked as a caretaker of young adults and children with disabilities for little pay, and far beyond my mental and physical capacity. I have been read as the help and treated with disdain, been ignored and abused in certain work spaces. My womxnness causes men to overlook me and disdain my accomplishments, and in traditional Chinese spaces where men hold speaking power and authority in other ways, I have been ignored or asked to speak last, if at all.

I carry my survival and have recurring anxiety, dissociation and flashbacks to earlier times where I am trapped, cannot speak, or worse, that nobody hears, sees, or believes me. When I tell others about my experience, about my survival, my worst fear is not being believed. I fear being abused constantly, cringe on the prospects of being sexually harassed, again, and sometimes fear leaving the house. This is the anxiety that binds me, and my room that sometimes promises to be a safe space does not betray the evil of my mind.  I am still working on myself. I am grateful others are investing in me. I am learning the beauty of my wholeness, disability and all. I am investing in my beauty and the wilderness of my mind. I am unlearning 2 decades of physical, emotional and sexual pain. And I am worthy of love. I am enough.