A STORY ABOUT MY ASIAN FATHER

are you tired of lists about race? Too bad!
  1. My dad (and my mom) grew up dirt poor. He was the oldest of four and was expected to take care of the entire family.
  2. His father was an alcoholic. His mother was always very sick.
  3. My father slept four hours a night from the age of 11 and onward.
  4. He would wake up at 5 to run errands. He would deliver farm packages to make some money. He'd make breakfast for his entire family and lunch for his siblings all before they woke up.
  5. After school, he'd pick up his sisters and take them to after-school private lessons. In Korea, if you don't pay for extra schooling there's basically no chance of a better life for you.
  6. He paid for his private lessons and his sisters' out of his own pocket.
  7. The first time he collapsed from hunger was when he was 13.
  8. When he was 16, he got frostbite on his big toe from shoes that were nearly two sizes too small.
  9. After private lessons, he would cook dinner, take care of his mother, make sure his sisters finished their homework, and had to call the police or neighbors to see where his father was. Every day.
  10. He was the mother, father, and brother of his family of six for 23 years.
  11. My father worked tenaciously and selflessly to get to the best college in the country. He graduated at the top of the class.
  12. He got a job at a good firm. But he didn't want his children to be confined to a certain way of life, so he moved to America.
  13. I moved to Kentucky with @JennyJLee when I was 9 months old. My earliest memory is hiding in the back closet of my house with my sister and my mom as people pounded on our doors in the middle of the night.
  14. The next morning we had a broken doorbell and eggs splattered all over our front porch.
  15. My father cleaned it up silently and didn't call the police. I realize now that he knew he wouldn't be taken seriously.
  16. My father didn't know about credit when he moved here. The people selling him thousands of dollars of furniture didn't offer it as an option because they knew they could trick him into paying with cash.
  17. They made my dad pay full price when things were on sale. When he figured it out, they told him he didn't understand English.
  18. My father did EVERYTHING right. He is a self made man. He is a good person. He is unbelievably intelligent and kind and funny. He can break dance. He is an artist. He is loving and selfless.
  19. Yet none of that matters if you don't have white skin.
  20. My dad has been stereotyped as weak and quiet and powerless from the moment he stepped onto American soil.
  21. My dad stopped complaining years ago after being ignored and mocked for so long.
  22. My dad gave up what could have been a comfortable life in Korea because he wanted my life and my sisters life to be freer and more fair.
  23. My sister is very active in her pursuit for racial equality.
  24. This winter break, while she was explaining systemic racism and black lives matter movement to my parents, my dad started sobbing. It was the third time I have ever seen him cry.
  25. For 45 minutes my dad cried and told us all of the times that he has been hurt in this country. This is how I know his past. He told us he never wanted us to know these things he experienced. He was sharing because he could see we were going through them too.
  26. I don't care if you think you've read enough. You haven't. There are hundreds more stories about the times my dad was forced to do menial labor by janitors playing pranks on him, the times he was sold defective things because people tried to take advantage of him, the times he was screamed at in front of his entire family.
  27. If you are annoyed by lists about race, if you don't show your support in any way, you are part of the reason my father has been so hurt.
  28. I am not here to bare my soul for this app. I do not enjoy writing these painful lists. I'm doing it because it's necessary.