what a moment of bliss to step out of the shower and think about how, yes, your thesis you’ve worked on is beautiful, your knowledge is valuable, and your mind is working and breathing and feeling very much alive. a few months ago, i felt so defeated, doing all the work i did only to produce something that most people didn’t seem to understand and the most they could say was, “oh that’s interesting.” and i would tell myself, again and again, maybe some distance away from it will help me have a better vision of why my questions i answered and raised are important. and now, it’s starting to happen. wow.
it has something to do with food’s materiality and its linkage to meaning-making, the archival work food does of memorializing culture and racial identity, and its role in producing new queer spaces that obviate our reliance on clubs/cruising spots to understand queerness. i started to elaborate on this privately when i scrolled through my tumblr and responded to one of those viral reblogs that are meant to be concise, funny, but relatable. OP proposed that we should have gay cafes, “Like gay bars except no drunk people or loud music, instead there’s coffee and cinnamon buns and pleasant conversations,” “a non-alcoholic, non-sexual space for LGBT groups that is inclusive to younger people.” but i’m starting to think i have too much to say about it that i need to make my own text post on it later.
my mom told me about how when she tried to open a bank account today, this teller/bank manager walked by and said that she couldn’t open one and that she could report and deport her.
oh, how i just wanted to return to this bank with my mom and go off on whoever this lady was. how much hatred i felt for this woman who would dare threaten my mom.
xenophobic narratives depend on constructing immigrants as outsiders without the language to defend themselves, and hence seen as dumb: both voiceless and obtuse. but even when immigrants voice their anger in the language of the colonizer, they are made fun of for their accents. accents: the easy way for xenophobes/racists/bigots/terrible human beings to remind immigrants of their difference, melting all their words into a punchline, shaming them and focusing on how things are said in order to avoid the inherent knowledge and value of what is being said.
there is more than one way to render a group voiceless that does not need to rely on silence.
they choose the easy way out; there is no need to exert any effort to listen and respond because they try to make the war field of language into one where the immigrant will never have the upper hand, a series of battles they have lost long before they have opened their mouths.
college has really been there to teach me to see what my parents already know and the powerful ways they defend themselves against people like this bank teller. my mom knew how to puncture this xenophobic narrative with her own claim to knowledge. “i’ve done nothing wrong, i’ve lived here for 20+ years. don’t scare me.” in her recounting of her morning to me, she said, “this teller didn’t expect me to know anything. but i listen to the radio. i know that she doesn’t have authority to do that.” ‘don’t scare me’ wasn’t a request couched in fear, like i initially thought it was when she told me the story. on the contrary, fearlessness was her prerogative. ‘[you] don’t scare me’–my mom knew she could remain safe yet angry. she confronted this bank teller because she was not going to be seen as some mute outsider.
i’ve learned to see my mother as caring, selfless, wise, tough, strong, and flexible, but my own American first-generation arrogance has created certain blind spots. one of them is not recognizing that my mother is also brave and not one to take your shit passively. she will not aggravate when it’s not necessary but she sure as hell will defend herself when she knows she is right.
i had this realization last night that i have only been working and studying in solitude for the past two months and haven’t really seen any of my friends. i miss college and living a few floors away from the people i care about and seeing them bi-weekly in my classes.
work has been a drag lately because i despise some of my managers’ management styles (i have formed my own thoughts on what makes effective but humane work environments and they’re not doing too much to make that happen). i’ve been irritated by the way i’m talked down to sometimes by my seniors and how expendable i feel as just another cog in the machine, valued only as an employee who can make customers open store credit cards. small talk is aggravating and i haven’t really felt like many of my co-workers/seniors have really invested the time to see me as a real person who does more than just ring up clothes. coming with a little bit of an education background, investment in the holistic self is something that has become a top priority for me. so, the romance of retail has worn off–but that doesn’t make this experience invaluable. good experiences are not just the rosiest ones after all.