I've always struggled between two competing identities. What it means to be Javanese and what it means to be Chinese. Trying to find out who I am as an individual despite being seen only as part of a group, a race, a container
I blank out when people ask me where I'm really from, because I know what they're hoping to hear, a romanticized version of my life, history, story they can set their colonial gaze on, proof of the notion that Indonesia is "kinda" land of the free
I don't deny that my great great grandparents came here seeking opportunity and for the privilege that opportunity has granted me, I'm grateful every day to them
Occasionally I've been asking myself questions about what it means to decolonize my identity. It's been a long personal history of repeated errors as a kid, unable to see past what society pressured them to be, that obedient, hard-working, quiet, Chinese immigrant. The model minority - how long it took me to realize it
When I was a kid, my dad taught me to be proud of my Chinese blood, but I never took the time to truly understand my culture
Yes, I was curious, hungered for connection to my ancestors, and enthusiastically took "hongbao", but in a social life my physical identity is often questioned, wherefore I'm a half-blood. So I stayed silent, not wanting to proudly exclaim about the radish cake my mother made for family reunion dinner
I hope for those with connection to Chinese culture, no matter what differences in the intersections of your identity, you can take joy in celebrating this Lunar New Year without making those choices either
Oh that 2003 Hot Rod Red Mark Knopfler Signature Strat color represent my Lunar New Year Spirit.
Kiong Hi Huat Cai!