UPDATE: Two links to this blog entry, which has been a fascinating experience so far. The Black Bottom excerpted this post while MLive included it in their West Michigan links roundup. The MLive trolls this way come, and oh lordy.
It was jarring, not least because of the bluntness. The absence of diversity is fact, and it’s a big topic (too big?) to spring on stage. In tackling the topic, one GR panelist said this was her biggest grievance with the city. The conversation moved on, and I left.
It’s been simmering since last night and during my morning walk. Working for a 30+ year-old nonprofit, I’m not technically an entrepreneur, but I think of myself as a self-starter. So I considered myself an appropriate test case: What would it actually take to make me stay in GR?
Before we went up, they played a video compiled and edited by various students and tutors who couldn’t make it tonight. Among the testimonies was a Vietnamese woman, Hai (2:13), who shared that the Literacy Center equipped her with the confidence to serve her community better by being able to translate for her neighbors at medical appointments or childrens’ school functions.
It resonated. My mom moved to the States a couple years ahead of our birth (twins), and even though her English is versatile, her understanding is blameless, she never trusted herself. At the doctor’s office, in banks and on the phone, she insisted that I stand nearby, always checking her own understanding against mine.
There must have been something like the Literacy Center in the South Bay, and seeing Hai beam, I wish my mom had had the same.
To my mom, my blog entries are complete gobbledygook. She understands not a word. Mom rarely makes her way to my little web patch, so I feel pretty safe about sharing my plans.
As a CTC Vista, I’m hardly raking in large sums right now, at least not enough to get my mom a sumptuous birthday present. Besides that, she regifts most of the presents I buy anyhow. With these facts in mind, I’ve decided to make her next birthday gift: customized nesting dolls, starting with my great grandmother.
Mom was the second born in a six-kid line-up, but she was the eldest daughter. She was very close to her mother, who died at a relatively young golden age of lung cancer (she was in her early 60s; I was 14 at the time). What I remember of puo-puo was something of a social butterfly, generosity, and internalizing the pain from her eldest daughter’s failed marriage (divorce was still unusual in Chinese society), 15 hours apart and nearly 7,000 miles away.
Mom in her late 20s. Her favorite descriptors for herself—loosely translated—are "carried herself well" and "Jennifer-full-of-grace."
I woke up this morning to OPB‘s Think Out Loud. Host Emily Harris was broaching the DREAM Act, in which undocumented immigrants under 35 who have been schooled primarily in the States could pay in-state college tuition and eventually be granted citizenship amnesty. The percentage of these undocumented immigrants going on to four-year universities currently is minuscule and the majority of them have no memory of their parents’ countries; they were raised in the United States.
The guests on the show ranged from an undocumented immigrant smuggled into the US at seven weeks to the president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. Although this post is not meant to spawn a debate on the legitimacy of the DREAM Act, it is a response to some of the infuriating and illogical comments made by Jim Ludwick, president of OIR. The part that really got me rankled came at about 35:50 in the episode:
New Yorker cartoon by J.B. Handelsman
“I keep hearing this term ‘undocumented’ thrown around, but that’s an intellectually dishonest term … In addition, it creates this attitude of, man if I just had this document, everything would be all right. Well, a document is more than a piece of paper. It’s a signal that somebody’s done something, accomplished something. It would be like me saying, I’m a brain surgeon—put a sign up on the wall that says ‘Jim Ludwick, Brain Surgeon’—I am not a brain surgeon. A piece of paper is meaningless unless it shows something.”
What kind of equivocation is that? Becoming a brain surgeon is a result of effort. Being born a citizen of the United States is a result of circumstance.
It took a big hit the other day, my romance with Portland. I’ve been here about a year now, and for the first time ever, I really understood how Portland’s progressiveness might be a tall tale.
It was Valentine’s Day, and Charlie and I took a bus ride to SE 82nd and Division. We were going to have dim sum at Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant, something I’ve been trying to organize for the last two weeks–since Chinese New Years started–but have been incredibly unsuccessful with. I was itching to see this part of Portland. When my mom visited in November, she had asked around to figure out where the real Chinatown was, and the resounding answer was this far-off intersection. There were less bikers and pedestrians as the street numbers climbed while increasingly more restaurants and schools flew multilingual banners: Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese and English.
The bus warp-sped through a wormhole between 57th and 85th streets. In that 30-block span, the greenery, the foot traffic–all of it disappeared. The quaint, early 20th century houses faded into 70′s architecture and sprawl. We were dropped off in a literal concrete jungle with debris instead of sidewalks and crosswalks every three blocks.