Long Beach, CA
Loose Cannon, AKA Former Marine turned Equal Rights Activist, News Junkie, Public Servant
The above sentence has always been difficult for me to complete.
If I am the sum of my acts and deeds, then I am a Former Marine officer, kicked out for speaking out against the discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I fight for what I believe is right because discrimination is discrimination no matter what label you put on it.
I have graduated from the “right” schools and even served a tour of duty in Iraq. I have worked with many non-profit organizations to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy
But I think that we are more than our acts and deeds. Sometimes, we just are who we are.
I am the daughter of Korean immigrants, who always told me that I was an American. English was my first language because my parents immigrated to America in the late 1960s/early 1970s when assimilation was the name of the game. (Join the melting pot! The temperature is just fine.)
I have three amazing and sometimes annoying brothers. We grew up in an extremely Republican Orange County in the 1980s when my family was literally the only minority family in the neighborhood. Some of the neighborhood kids would ask, “What kind of oriental are you? Are you a Chink? A Jap? Or a Gook?”
I soon found myself quite outraged by acts and statements of racism, sexism, class-ism and later, homophobia. I think partly because I know that everyone struggles with assumptions based on race, gender, class and sexual orientation.
This is why it is so important for me to say that I am a queer Korean American woman.
The Korean American community is many things. It is the sum of all the individuals within it.
As a police officer in the city of Los Angeles, I’ve had the privilege of patrolling the streets of Korea Town where I’ve met Korean Americans from all walks of life. From the wealthiest business owners to a homeless man living out of his car, we are a diverse community.
We are fighters and peace activists. We are conservative and we are liberal. We are Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostics and many other faiths. We are straight and we are gay.
Regardless of the labels we choose to define ourselves, we are all Korean American.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Service Women’s Action Network
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retired college professor
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