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5 years ago I became a citizen of USA, so happy to finally be able to vote for first time in my life. Knowing what it means to vote, coming from a country that struggled so hard for 60 years to get to the point of having their people be able to vote. Now, my first presidential election vote, the chance for first ever possible woman president in USA, blew up in my face. I wasn’t so sure about becoming an American citizen because my heart has always been Burmese, I have always been an immigrant my entire life, and I didn’t quite feel like America was my home. But the Bay Area feels like home to me – I am a citizen of the Bay Area and California, and both are in USA, while my husband is American and I have two kids who are American and call USA their home.
For the sake of my children’s future, I wanted, as a mother to these children, have a voice in the schools they go to, the safety of the environment they live in, the moral values in the culture of the country they live in, and as an immigrant mother of American children, I wanted to be able to have a voice, be visible in the policies around them that will show them how to honor and respect and be proud of their mother’s and maternal family’s heritages, and even their paternal family’s heritages (their grandfather was an Armenian immigrant), that brought them to birth here as Americans. So I decided to naturalize and become an American citizen, for this right to have a voice and shape my children’s world through voting.
Now last night and today, I ask myself, did my voice or my vote even count? What will happen for my children? For my 9 year old girl entering puberty and will be teenager in next 4 years of Trump’s presidential term, how will her identity as a teenage Hapa GIRL develop? For my son who is starting to find his own self esteem and having his basic education as an elementary schooler, which role model will he see in Mr Trump and what it means to be a man, to deal with conflicts, and how to respect other females and immigrants that make up this country of immigrants, including his mother and sister? It takes a village to raise children. I realize the village does not include America right now. It has dwindled down to just the town where I live right now. And I will have to build our own community with my Burmese Americans in the Bay Area, my workplace, and back in my birth country Myanmar, to raise my children. I am sorely disappointed in the America I thought to be great when I pledged my allegiance as a new citizen 5 years ago. Now I see it for the racist sexist misogystic bigot paranoid state that this election results have proved it to be for me.
The day to day fight as a parent is hard enough. Now this added layer will make it even more exhausting, with the reduction of structural support (as Trump presidency will inevitably lead to). He is waking this sleeping tiger in me.
No I will not be a Tiger Mom. But I come from a country that fought off colonialism, and fought off authoritative dictatorship regimes. I am a child of my birth country. I am a descendent of generations of freedom fighters and activists. I am a woman. I am a fighter. I am a mother who will protect and nurture my children at all cost.
word up. word out. lay low….scratch that….raise high, my mothas……