Jul 17, 2006

Returning Home.

"Time has a way of taking time,
Loneliness is not only felt by fools..."
- Megadeth, In My Darkest Hour

I've spent this summer working in a wonderful immigrant rights organization, where I've learned more because it was outside of my comfort zone. But it's the first time in a long time that I haven't been in an Asian American space, and I miss that familiarity that I felt there. I miss being around my people, generally. This year has been a bit of a step backwards in that regard, and I guess it's about time to plug back into some community that feels like my own. In one way, after burning out (from boredom and disgust more than just plain old exhaustion) at my last job, I think I needed to take a bit of a step back to assess the situation. Though I'm still hoping to extend past my core comfort in Asian American spaces, there are limitations.

Understanding even some of the nuances between different ethnic groups and regional identities within the Asian American diaspora, or even some of the paths and histories of migration, give context to the conundrum that you may be facing at the moment. The history, and the rich culture of resistance, perseverance, and optimism colors your interactions, even if they only provide a backstory to the community member(s) current issues. In the Latino community, I realize that I know very little about the paths of migrations for some of the groups - I don't recognize many of the cultural nuances between groups, and don't know of conflicts or misgivings between groups. In African immigrant groups, it's even harder, because of how little I know about Africa through my formal training or personal studies. In American indigenous communities, while I feel passionate about the issues I know about, I feel quite the outsider, and don't want to fetishize populations that have gone through that phase of American flash interest in the past.

In coalition-based work (which most polyethnic work strives to achieve at some point), this level of detail is very helpful to smooth out obvious challenges and emphasize shared goals and "we're here now, leave that baggage at the door." I'm still happy that I've challenged myself, but I think that this year may be a return to those aspects of my first communities that really fueled my passion for racial justice and movement work to begin with. Hopefully, I'll be writing more about it as well.

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