Obscured by the broad definition of “Asian” and “Asian American” is a staggering diversity of peoples that represent twenty-four distinct groups… Both the diversity and the shared experiences of Asian Americans reveal the complex story of the making and remaking of Asian America. There is not one single story, but many.
– Erika Lee, The Making of Asian America, 3
Many stories, but few are told. In my history and social studies education, the only mentions of Asian Americans were of the gold rush and Japanese internment. Of course, my family’s and my own experience have added to that mix – and what vivid stories they are!
becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it… our relationship with the land cannot heal until we hear its stories
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 9
As someone born and raised in bustling cities, how can we take care of the land in our concrete, steel, and glass towers? We dare not even touch the earth, as asphalt rolls and sizzles at our feet. Inside hulking, chortling machines, we make our way to fluorescent square footage, where we go about our “work” – not to heal the ground, but to exploit it. We are everything but indigenous. We are foreign and strive to be alien.
I am detached, but I want to be joined.
cosmologies are a source of identity and orientation to the world. They tell us who we are… they are like a compass: they provide an orientation but not a map. The work of living is creating that map for yourself… [which] will be different for each of us and different for every era.
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 7
How strong is the pull of a compass? Or a series of compasses? How do we read compasses? Some must be harder to understand than others. Perhaps the difference lies in the reading.