Where I am from?
I am from spaces and places constructed for me, walls built around expectations I can never meet but will always be held accountable to.
Too loud. Too mouthy. Too inappropriate. Too young for what the search committee is comfortable with, code for, not a straight, white man.
Too radical for spaces meant to maintain the status quo and too outside presumptions and assumptions to be considered valid.
I am from a world where the blue eyed, blonde haired husband and wife stand with their 2.5 children, golden retriever, and white picket fence representing the ideal. I am from a world where that can never be my truth. This constructed world tells me that I'm cute...for an Asian guy. I speak well...for an Asian guy. That the Philadelphia suburbs cannot be the right answer to the question where I am from. No, where are you really from.
This world illuminates shadows—situational secrets—identities remaining silent for safety yet disclosed for discussion and communicated for community. A world where it was stated that all like me…[was this me? is this me? does it have to be me?]…would go to hell. Where all of "those people" die of diseases and can't have life-long partners; they are too promiscuous and need to be “cured.” A world where love the sinner, hate the sin is socially just; let’s just pray the gay away.
Too queer for the people of color and too brown for the gays.
A member of communities that stepped on one another to maintain proximity to a prize
that will never be awarded.
Those in power convinced us that it’s a zero sum game, making us blind to the fact that the only winner is the one that makes the rules.
I am from a world that, as Dr. Tatum puts it, is filled with smog...a smog where vertical, horizontal, and internalized -isms just is the way things are, and I have to learn to live with it. Where challenging the status quo is disrespectful to my elders and unbecoming for an educated man.
I'm from a world where being told "no" and "because I said so" are reasons enough. A world where there was always an unwritten script….I felt like I was the last to know. Where I was second best, continue the quest, I guess?, this is not a test!, but there is no rest if you want to make it happen.
This was my world...until college. An immigrant in a foreign land, the air felt fresh and new. A smog was lifted, the sun shone, and my throat was cleared to speak to new parts of myself for the first time.
In this new world, I studied dance and psychology, and in these classrooms I saw connections where others may not, in particular the reflexivity between an art form and a social science. This world honed my inquisitive spirit, exposed me to a field I am dedicated to, and cemented my passion for making the world a better place; however, outside of lectures and seminars, I was still choking, breathing in toxic air. Seemingly “safe” on one side, apparently “dangerous” on the other, oppressive structures maintained borders, deep valleys separating glorious peaks, parallel rivers from the same source never crossing.
“You don’t look Asian. I’m not saying I’m racist, but you don’t have those eyes.”
“You speak English so well. Where’s your accent?”
“You’re hot for an Asian guy. I’m normally only into Whites.”
storms26: latin or filipino?
storms26: then you are fil
storms26: there are latin fils and asian fils
storms26: filipino's are a mix
storms26: of asian and latin
Me: not necessarily
storms26: some look more asain
storms26: in my sexperience
Me: and how numerous is your sexperience?
storms26: 6 or so
storms26: the latin ones are the bigger of the 2
storms26: of course duh!
Me: why of course?
storms26: i want to generalize :)~
I am from a world where one careless night gave me the scare of my life, where a positive result potentially changed my life script, yet finding it to be false brought me back to my faith and closer to my family. Where my reckless choice has become a way for others to learn from my mistake, but even using the word reckless, mistake...my biases still cloud my perception, throwing judgment where it may not ought to be.
The collegiate world opened my eyes to systemic advantages, previously never acknowledged but constantly benefiting from. I started to recognize I am from a world of privilege, where paying for college was not a concern. Where I walked through grass with no thought of mind, where using a public restroom was inconsequential, where I avoided closed captioned movies because I had the choice. Where regardless of my subordinated identities, I still entered as a male that could pass as straight, perpetuating problems unintentionally but still problematically.
What do you mean you’ve never gone on a spring break trip? Can’t your parents help you out with that payment? Wait, why do you have to work on the weekend? You guys. That’s lame. Retard. Stop being so gay.
I am from a world that went from 40% to 4, a speck of pepper in a sea of salt. Where many times I was literally the only one. Where students felt empowered to say "You damn Yankees get your panties in a wad about race all the time," and where my graduate assistantship in academic advising only served to further ostracize me from the division of student affairs. Here are resources, processes, and projects, wait, just kidding, you have no formalized way to connect. I adapted to the environment, marginalizations multiplied, code switching to be heard while still struggling to define myself with words not spoken before. Yet again, unique perspectives produced possibilities, working within a system to survive.
Where am I from?
I straddle a world where love can seem conditional but might just be cultural.
Such a waste, Nathan. You know it is. Have you seen somebody die of AIDS. Have you seen somebody with AIDS? Then you’ll be scared. You’ll be scared, Nathan . . .You say you die of an accident, a heart attack. And things like that. You haven’t seen anybody get AIDS. You haven’t seen . . . They just don’t die right away, Nathan. They suffer. They suffer. And you think I am being careless about myself. It is not me that is going to suffer, Nathan. It is not me.
I come from a world where my parents said that I’m being selfish for adopting my baby girl and giving her the life I know she deserves. Where I’m being a fucking dumbass for taking on the responsibility because I’m reckless and careless. Where children need a father and a mother, and where two men will damage her future. Yet once they met the precious ninja, she’s now the palest part of our family. She has beautiful eyes and a pug nose, and my mom has the will to live again because she wants to see our baby girl grow up. I’m in a world where they will refute they ever denied her, and I’m making a world where actions will always speak louder than words because love conquers all.
Anak, are you there? Naytaann, where are you? Why don’t you answer your phone? I arrived yesterday in Lourdes for the pilgrimage. It’s a beautiful place here, Naytaann, but I miss you. It would be so much better with you, and your dad, and Mark and Ang. I love you Naytaann, and I always will. I hope you know.
I'm creating a world where there is no personal and professional. Where work/life balance is better phrased as work/life integration. A world where I am able to initiate change on a systemic-level by making more inclusive policies and practices. Because I work for the largest professional association for student affairs, all of my values align…mostly…and I help colleges and universities distill the potential and ignite the passion of the future of our all of our worlds, including for my little girl.
I’m in a world where more than likely she will be assaulted, and it was only #metoo that made me realize that fact, blinded by the sheath and sword of patriarchy and toxic masculinity. But I’m also creating a world where consent is sexy, and I’m OK not getting a hug from her right now. Because a world where she doesn’t disclose to protect my emotions is a world where men are prioritized, a world where we would only be reifying the structures I am trying to destroy if she had to show emotion when only I want.
Where am I from?
I'm in a world, association management, where connections and networking helped me find my passion, a world where it doesn't hurt to ask because you may get an answer you did not expect. I've accepted that I succeed in this world, not only because I am at the right place at the right time, but also because I show the right people the right skills and deliver upon my statements. But I still wonder am I the token hire or appointment, the minority to check the box.
I am from a world where the same stimulus produces different results. Where education facilitates
isolating clarity, and
I am creating a world where it is appropriate to examine and explore texts, accepting some and challenging the next, rewriting the doctrine to reconcile with my truths. A world where my master’s degree built bridges rather than silos, and where this dissertation will identify ways to filter the air.
Mahal sa pagpapalaya. Bayanihan. Words that inauthentically roll of my tongue, but internally, define what I’ve been searching for. What I hope to produce.
Love to Liberation. Home.
Despite all the constructs and contradictions, the parameters set by others and the paradoxes I continually navigate, I am from a world where I can push the envelope and use my voice and help others find theirs—for the struggle of one is the struggle for all. I am from a place that not only asks why, but questions why we ask why in the first place. It's all invented after all, isn't it? I'm from a place that is constantly developing, evolving, and changing for the better, and I'm from a world where I can look in the mirror and be proud of who I am and where I’m from.
Set me on a path. Hold me to your expectations. Trap me in a pot and turn on the heat.
I’ll chart my own course, exceed your notions, release the steam and convert it to energy.
I’m building a community to turn this struggle into strength, these conflicts into collaboration.
Trap me within these borders; I’ll pitch my tent right within them and survive,
planting seeds of hope that will grow into trees of change, loving each and every breathe I take.
I am from a world where I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before, and I am the shoulders for those who come after. This dissertation is my attempt to build communion with those who care to join along.