Fakequity readers… It is 11.45 p.m. and this is the third attempt to write a blog post… I’m going to try again, nothing like a deadline to force creativity and just words on a blank screen. Apologies for the ultra-personal nature.
Note – I have two kids, but the word you is sometimes used to reflect one child in my writing below, this may feel disjointed in the reading.
Dear Kids (I’m not sharing your names here cause you deserve anonymity),
It is the end of the school year. I know both of you are super excited not to have online school, but simultaneously bummed and worried about what devices you’ll use to get your screen fix since we have to return your school laptops.
The school year was definitely different. You didn’t go to a school building. School was in our living room and at the kitchen table. Each of us with our defined seating and cords jumbled all over the place. I got to hear you laugh at jokes, yell out answers to questions, and have one sided conversations since you had headphones on, and vice versa. You heard my work conversations talking about topics you now have fluency in at a young age. You understand words like race, racism, Black Lives Matter, equity, white, and other terminology many adults are still afraid to say out loud. I know, and I think you know, you have a long way to go to learn more about these terms. I have to learn with you too.
I’m so happy your teachers engaged in these conversations with you and took it upon themselves to bring them up. After the January riot and insurrection at the US Capitol, I got to watch your teachers skillfully engage you in conversation. You knew a lot more than I thought, which made me proud and sad – sad knowing you see truths about our country I didn’t have to realize until I was an adult.
I know you’re still hurt, sad, upset about things COVID took away. School camp, the chance to learn an instrument live — online band classes really don’t work well, playing with friends. I’m trying to remember these are huge for you.
Being home together had perks. We got to watch the inauguration and you were with us as we watched the first women and Asian and Black vice president sworn into office. You also got to be a part of my fundraiser side hustle, where we had mugs made with the Sen. Kamala Harris’ phrases “I’m Speaking.” and “I will not be lectured.” The money went to Womxn of Color in Education, supporting women of color who are running for school boards in Washington. I know both of you take secret pride in using that mug, and you love we put the phrase “I’m Speaking.” on the mug since you suggested it.
This school year you both learned how to build community in ways that are new even for adults. When I watched you figure out how to have online playdates, screen share, and manipulate technology with ease it was impressive. Although you still have some basics to learn, like how to unplug your computer and move it off the dining table, k? Your generation will understand and hopefully be more thoughtful and inclusive when it comes to accessibility of people with disabilities, non-dominate language speakers, childcare, and other barriers that come up.
I was impressed with the creativity that came about because of COVID. You got to trick-o-treat in new ways that built community, a fall highlight. Winter brought other fun, like a lot of snow and watching movies on Netflix and Disney+. We talked a lot about how old movies are funny, but also questionable by modern standards. I enjoyed watching Star Trek, Avengers, and other series and movies with you snuggled under blankets — there were cultural lessons in these even if not explicit. We got creative with finding new things to do, including loving on the pandemic dog. You both learned how to cook a little more and we explored making things from our cultural heritage – andagi – Okinawan donuts, Spam musubi, okonomiyaki, ramen, and so on. Just tonight a Latinx neighbor brought us Taiwanese cakes to celebrate her new job.
I also want you to remember through COVID we were lucky and fortunate; we can’t take this for granted. While life was harder, you never were without. It is now our civic and moral duty to share this forward. That is why I ask (you may say order) you to do things that sometimes you would rather not because they aren’t as fun as your normal routines.
You’ll start venturing out again soon, without us – that is a good thing. You need to learn how to be with others, especially your Black and Brown relations. You need to learn the world is not as sheltered as our dining room table and little boxes on a screen. As your grandma said a parent’s job is to raise kids to be independent. As you go back out in the world, you’re going to experience racism, hurt, and even cause some hurt to others, but I hope the year together gave you a more solid foundation to grow from.
I hope you grew more confident and humble over the past year. I hope you understand your Asian identities more, including in relation to other Black and Brown people. I hope you learned how to be more compassionate and thoughtful. Now you can go out and test these learnings as you move back into a 3-dimensitonal world. You can come home when you need a safe refuge, although not forever cause your job is to be independent but rooted as well. Your Oba’s (grandma) other life lesson to me, which I now pass to you – never bring home dirty laundry. I always thought she meant that literally since we lived in an apartment building with coin operated laundry machines, but I now think she meant that metaphorically as well. Go and make a mess if you must, but you clean it up.
In some ways I hope you never read this. You don’t need a parent who blogs about you. You need to be self-centered kids. If you do read it, just know it was midnight musings about our pandemic year together.
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I am writing from the ancestral lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small action to hopefully repair and work to be in more justice based relations.