Community-Based Arts Organizer / Graduate Student
i am a prototypical southern californian korean-american. raised in church, dad is a pastor (also worked at a liquor store, mom at a cleaner), korean spoken within the confines of home, identity confusion from being yay-high to this-high, etc etc, blah blah.
but this term was arbitrary for me until i actually left the social circles that i called “korean-american”. i met 4th, 5th generation koreans in vladivostok, russia. a korean lady running a chinese restaurant in paris. a korean family running a restaurant in the heart of rome. koreans in chicago, boston, the bay, new york…. yea, we’re all a little different even in the same national borders.
i shared one particular thing with all these folks: the deeply personal, particular experiences of the immigrant dream. all varied, all from different personal, social, political, economic contexts… yet intrinsically universal.
or perhaps in another light, i feel like i became korean-american when i was living/working in inner-city chicago. it was finding the commonality between my mother’s struggle and the struggling mothers in my neighborhood… my father’s questioning of his own manhood when he couldn’t bring home “enough” and the consistent denial of shitty jobs to the men in my hood. that is how i know what it means to be korean-american. it means to be vehemently particular to who you are… but what’s interesting and beautiful is that the more you are honest about who you are, the more universally felt it is.
i am korean american.
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