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Dear the United States of America: A Letter from Southeast Asian America

Dear United States of America, 

I am so thankful that I have lighter skin. 

I am so thankful that I am part Chinese. 

I am so thankful that I look the part. 

Thankful that, as a result, it is easier for you to put me in a box, 

Categorize me, classify me, stereotype me. 

I am so thankful because, in this way, it is easier for me to survive. 

And that is what it means to be Southeast Asian. 

Survive. 

Hi USA, 

I am Southeast Asian America. You probably have never heard of me. 

Does Secret War ring a bell? Secret bombing? 

How about the Vietnam War? 

Let me tell you a little about myself. 

You bombed my family and brought violence into their homes, but you simply washed the blood off your hands because you believed you did the “noble thing”. 

I am in poverty, dropping out of school, joining gangs, but you don’t see it because you have blindfolded yourself with your own model minority myth. 

You deport me and then hide it from the news because my story doesn’t fit into your stereotypes. 

I grew up with pain etched into my DNA, anxiety as part of my culture, fear integrated into my traditions. 

All because of you. 

However, I still want nothing but to be with you. Is this a toxic relationship or a toxic infatuation? All I have ever wanted was your acceptance, so why can’t you see me? 

See my children, my culture, my traditions. See my different colors, ideas, stories. See me for not just what you made me become but for who I was before you. You tried to destroy my origins, but you failed. For this, I am so thankful because, in this way, I have become stronger. And that’s what it means to be Southeast Asian. 

Strong.

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