My Asian Identity Quest

Inspired by @bobbyhundreds and @eatthelove lists, here is a list about my relationship with my Filipino identity.
  1. I am a Filipina American.
    My mom immigrated here from the Philippines at 22. My dad was born and raised here, and my paternal grandparents immigrated here from the Philippines in the 1950's by way of the US Navy.
  2. I used to speak some Tagalog. Now, I can't.
    My immigrant family faced harassment at best and employment discrimination at worst for their accents. My dad speaks only English and still got teased mercilessly by his white classmates in San Diego. My parents didn't want my brother or I to be too different so they never taught us more than little words here and there. I know Tagalog songs I grew up with by heart but I have no idea what the words mean.
  3. I used to not like identifying as "Asian"
    This used to be because of general self loathing/a need to assimilate. Now, I don't use it because it's just too broad. People try to define Filipino as this strange middle ground between East Asians (who are constantly lumped together, despite vast cultural differences) and Pacific Islanders. While I do feel solidarity and some sense of belonging with the general Asian population, I prefer to identify specifically as pinay (pronounced pin-EYE) or Filipina.
  4. I don't have a lot of Filipino/Asian friends.
    This was not intentional, but I think this may have been by subconscious design when I was younger and less connected to my ethnic and cultural heritage. More on that later.
  5. I used to think there was a clear difference between assimilated Asian Americans (me) and "FOB's" (them). I placed high value on assimilation and white Americanness, which is gross, unfair, and hateful toward so many brilliant and kind people.
    The US obsession with assimilating immigrants is very Star Trek Borg-esque. We would not be any less American if my family held on to more traditional Filipino customs, and yet that is how they were treated. So, I didn't get a lot of cultural education. It makes sense that my brother and I would start viewing pinoy people and things as "different" or "other", even if my parents never explicitly told us this.
  6. I also used to think that one part of my identity had to be the most important, and that one identity had to eclipse the needs and validity of all others. Like, I had to be a woman first and a Filipina second and a queer girl third.
    When I first learned about intersectionality, it blew my fucking mind. The idea that I can be and am more than one thing and that multiple parts of my identity can be important to me and have equal value has drastically improved my life and my activism. Mainstream feminism hasn't quite caught up with this, but I believe that it will.
  7. I have a weird relationship with America.
    I'm not patriotic. Because of the sacrifice that was expected of my grandfathers in exchange for American citizenship. Because of the violence and discrimination my mother and my grandmother experienced because of where they came from, when they only came here for the promise of the American Dream. Because of a society that so de-valued my family's culture that I grew up learning nothing about it for fear of being alienated. It's hard to feel American with a family history like that.
  8. I've never been to the Philippines.
    I had health problems growing up and couldn't travel long distances. I've never had the money to take a trip as an adult. It's a home I have never been to with a family I have never met. I ache for never experiencing it.
  9. I learn as much as I can.
    About pre and post colonization Filipino history. About the history of Filipino Americans in the United States (Did you know pinoys played a crucial role in the farm worker's strikes with Cesar Chavez? It's never mentioned in schoolbooks, and I had no idea until I watched Delano Manongs, an incredible short doc.) This information isn't readily available so it takes digging, but it's so worth it. It makes me feel more connected to my heritage.
  10. Sometimes I feel I don't belong anywhere.
    I don't speak enough Tagalog to be really Filipino in the eyes of many pinoys. I look too "different" to be considered truly American by a significant (but thankfully dwindling) portion of the population-- a feeling I am constantly reminded of when representations of Asians in media overwhelmingly include broken English, Triad affiliation, or martial arts skills.
  11. But, I am a Filipina American.
    This identity is power to me now. It speaks to where I come from and where I call home.