Vivi, Portland, Ore.
“Although I've had slurs and ignorance hurled my way, my most impactful experience with racism has been in healing from my own internalized racism. 20+ years of taking in messages from dominant culture about what was desirable, attractive, and good – and realizing how these values didn't mirror myself or my family. Decades of witnessing people mock our names and language, disdain or fetishize our physical features, and feign disgust at our foods led me to distance myself from... myself.
I began to reconnect with my Asian identity 10 years ago after I mindlessly made a self-deprecating comment about being Vietnamese and a dear friend called me out. This friend informed me that what I was saying didn't just affect myself, but her as well as we share that same identity. She let me know that my words ripple out and affect others too, that I can't deprecate myself without also deprecating my community. It was a humbling and signficant moment.
I am re-learning how to connect to my Vietnamese heritage and culture. I feel things very deeply these days – the immense pride and joy, the harm and fear, the helplessness and hopefulness.
People need to know... stop overlooking us, stop taking only the pieces you like and dismissing the rest, stop mocking and laughing at us, and stop hurting and killing us.”