family history

I’ve always credited my “academic success” (not sure you can call it that considering I just failed online P.E.) and parent’s involvement in my life due to my Korean heritage and the pursuit of the “American Dream” that my mother had as an immigrant. It was interesting today to drop my brother off at college— my father (who is not Korean) was very emotional and told me that out of seven children, only one of his siblings went to college and that today was so meaningful to him.

I’ve always felt that I live(d) a life of upper-middle class privilege: I don’t remember a recent time in my life where my father was not a high ranking military official or when we could not have something that we earnestly and reasonably wanted. That said, it was enlightening to hear how my great grandfather was a sharecropper [a person who does all the work on the land but receives almost nothing] and my grandfather, worked in a factory and was very involved with his union to the point where picket lines and protests weren’t out of the norm. My father’s siblings all worked with their hands and my father joined the military straight out of high school.

I’m not sure where things really changed for my family but history is so important. As a non-white person, my mother has always felt left out of the family (my grandparents did not even come to the wedding) and I felt the same. Now I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime devaluing one half of my family.  Who knows I guess, still it just proves to me more why teaching young people about disability history, heritage and culture is so important. I viewed them as strangers when we may have had more in common all along.


Filed under class, race

6 responses to “family history

  1. Thanks for your post and for sharing something so personal. I definitely agree about history. I’m trying to reclaim pieces of my parents’ family histories, and I have access to many people, but it’s still hard to piece together, and that sucks.

  2. thisislivingzine

    Hey! Got your message. Sorry it’s taken me a few days to get back to you but I’ve updated the site with information on how and where to purchase This Is Living.

    Interesting post. I grew up in Alabama and loved hearing about my grandmother’s experiences as a child of the 30s- NOT good times but fascinating.

  3. I think that the struggle that white families did experience dooesn’t have the same intensity to that of families of color because one struggle was sort of chosen, and one struggle was forced upon a people. There is absolutely no true comparison between an Irish family immigrating here and working 16 hour days in factories and that of slaves forced to work without any vision of their own dream coming to fruition.

    Still, I do very much admire my ancestors as you have written about here for sacrificing so much and enabling me to be where I am today.

  4. If the sun shown like that through my window, i’d be up to meet it every morning.

    Everything you write about always makes me stop whatever else i’m doing and take a moment to think about how what you said could apply to any life, anyone’s memories or feelings. I also think… no, I know what a great presence you must have around people.

  5. What a powerful thing to realize.

    I was just talking to my friend about how society needs to stop focusing on Diversity and instead stress how we’re mostly alike. IE you most likely aren’t going to bully someone that is like you, and on and on because when you do, you are really just saying that you hate yourself. I think that would be more positive.
    I don’t know though.

    Interesting thoughts though in your entry. I love reading them! 🙂

  6. Hmmm. Very thought-provoking post, and sort of painful, at least, to me. I am the daughter of an immigrant. My birth father was Afro-Cuban. His family immigrated to Jamaica in the 1930s, and my father came to the United States in 1945. I can only imagine what it was like for a Black immigrant back then. My birth mother, who was born in 1921 in Louisiana, was French-Creole, Black, and Choctaw. She was able to pass for White, but being a woman of courage, she did not.

    When I was 13, my mother passed away, and my twin sister and I were removed from the home. I was eventually adopted by a White family who, of course, reinforced my pride in my heritage. Unfortunately, many relatives on both sides of my adoptive parents family did not, and to this day, do not accept me because I am African-American. Fortunately, all of my immediate family is very proud of me, and my disability rights activism.

    I have found in my experience, that when African-Americans of mixed heritage try to celebrate all of our heritage and cultures, we are viewed with suspicion by many, especially if we don’t look Biracial. It’s as if because I look Black, I don’t have the right to celebrate all of my heritage and culture. It’s so painful!

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