Normally, I make it my practice to silently observe the discussion involving other social groups of America. The reason for this is simple: it is important for each social group to speak with its own voice. Even if I wanted to help, it is the better habit to refrain. I have seen too many cases in which good intentions were translated into stumbling, inartful words, setting back the agenda rather than advancing it. That was not going to be me.
Despite those reservations, I feel compelled to speak out in solidarity for the movement against having a racial slur, i.e. "Redskins," as the name of an NFL franchise. I feel the compulsion for two reasons. First, I am a sports fan and a resident of the Washington D.C. area, which makes the name of the local franchise more relevant than those living outside of the region who don't care about sports. Second, I am an Asian American, and I have been mired in the ill-advised hashtag campaign from a few weeks ago that distracted the national attention away from this important issue. Though I have been speaking out on the stupidity of the hashtag campaign, it is undeniable that I, too, contributed to the distraction.
How shall I express my solidarity with the campaign against "Redskins," without running afoul of my personal rule that I should not speak on behalf of others? Answer: I can speak about my own experience, which points toward the same result. Here is my attempt at doing so.
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I am a first generation immigrant, having emigrated from Korea to Los Angeles area in 1997. I will not bore you with the sob stories about my adjustment into American life at age 16, since I have already done that in this space already. It would enough to say that, the first year of my American life was defined largely by loneliness. In Seoul, I lived in the same neighborhood throughout my childhood. I had a close group of friends who attended the same elementary school, same middle school and same high school. The move to U.S. was the first major move I remember--and it had to be across the Pacific, in a new land where no one wanted to talk to the new kid who spoke broken English.
(More after the jump)
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