Vietnamese, torn between remembering or not.

Thien Kim Ho,
Somerville, MA.

I grew up in what seemed like a movie representation of my own race. My mother was a nail technician. I don’t know if she still is. My father probably still is an engineer. I don’t know whether I had “tiger parents” or if they were just plain mean. I suffered a lot from their treatment. I was called names, deemed worthless, and the police didn’t help when my father tried to strangle me… Of course, I was forced to take piano lessons. I needed a talent because every white person out there would “always look down on us.” Let’s not talk about how playing classical piano is impossible for me because I’m too nearsighted to see any sheet music, no matter how big it’s blown up.

Outside of home I was made fun of, living in a suburb with predominantly whites, of course it happened. “You’re Chinese, right?”, “moo goo gai chicken,” middle schoolers would yell. Even the circle of friends subscribed to stereotypical humor about how I MUST HAVE BEEN really good at MATH and was also a NINJA.

I estranged my parents, and decided to forget my second language but I always have this nagging in my heart that says “please hang on to your heritage.” Growing up, my parents insisted that yelling, anger, hitting, and more, were part of the Vietnamese culture, something I do not want with me. Maybe someday, I will be able to appreciate that part of me and I will be able to say “I’m Vietnamese!” without cringing.


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