"I think you have a very unique perspective given the environments you've lived in."
It was a sunny, chilly day in the town of Pasadena. I had hit up a personal contact, a member of the school psychology department, and we were getting to know one another's stories.
Atlanta has been hailed as "Black Heaven." I have only heard this term a handful of times in my life, and only after leaving the city. Being under the cultural context of this black heaven, while socializing in an Asian American subculture, while overwhelmingly amidst a vocally Confederate state, has surely prepared me for a wide variety of codes to switch amongst.
The northeastern states provide a haven of diversity I prefer. The elbow rubbing inevitable by way of population density, the collective unity in spite of differences, the homeless who are more bothersome rather than dangerous – this is a bubble of protection in which I feel most safe.
Los Angeles. It seems idyllic, until the cracks become apparent. The aggression of the impoverished; the false sense of safety bubbles created by cars; the competition of being the best conformist. If Atlanta is black heaven, California is the epicentre of Asian America: generations of history tracing back to the East, though none alike. The plight of the Japanese Americans, now becoming a more educated part of the Asian American narrative. The cultural fluidity amongst our youth, having to navigate Koreanized culture and the cross-section of media, hip hop, food, entertainment. The King of after-party drunk rituals: pho. The bubble tea craze-turned-staple; Japanese anime-to-potentially-weird-hentai: we absorb it all to have a cursory understanding of the abstract. To understanding our individual roots, the immigration patterns of our parents; to wanting to know and embody our motherlands' ways – we want to be more than proficient in all of it.
We are, if nothing else, uniquely equipped to build the vastest bridges. Asian America can do this.