When you walk down the street, can you tell what nationality I am? Can you tell from the color of my skin that I’m American, besides being Asian? Or even more so, an Asian Jew?
These questions may not enter one’s mind in passing, but don’t we all have preconceived ideas about anyone we see on the street? This week’s shooting resulted in 8 deaths, six of whom were Asian women. A 21-year old white man in Atlanta, GA was the perpetrator. Racial issues have become much more pronounced and how could they not? Almost daily, we hear of shootings and other killings, whether here in the US or abroad. Terrorist-driven or not, the issue of race has been the common denominator for it.
I may not look American (what does it even mean?), but I came to this country as an immigrant and received my citizenship when I was 15 years old. My parents left a dictatorial regime to live in a country where freedom was embraced. Their bravery to escape the ideals they couldn’t accept and leave behind their families gave us the opportunity to dream and exert the freedom that wasn’t readily available to them.
Was it an easy transition? I naively thought it would be. Since I was educated in English, I didn’t think I would be noticed, and for a while I wasn’t. My high school and college years were pretty uneventful. I had friends and was socially active in an environment that was culturally diverse. My friends were Irish, African-American, Italian, Indian, White, and Filipino. While we all came from different races, we never considered ourselves as different; that was one of the reasons I never thought I would be singled out or stereotyped, but two incidents would change how I saw myself and how others saw me.
My first encounter was while I was searching for an apartment after moving out of my parents’ home. As a young adult who had just landed her first real job, I thought it was time to be on my own. Looking for an apartment was far from easy and I was willing to commute. My apartment search took me to New York City but the rent was not affordable for me at the time so I ventured to search in Brooklyn. It was while I was walking around my prospective neighborhood where I encountered my initial brush with racism.
As I was being shown around the neighborhood by my prospective housemate, I noticed two young women coming towards us. Not thinking anything of it, I kept walking on the sidewalk until I was almost face to face with these women, then it happened. As they were about to pass me, the one closest to me pushed me onto the street with oncoming traffic. Had I not caught myself from falling, I might have been hit by a car. I was shocked and taken aback because I had no clue why I was pushed, other than the fact that this young woman didn’t like the way I looked.
The second encounter happened as I was waiting for my husband to come out of a meeting. As I stood there, one of the men who had just come out of the same meeting started a conversation with me by asking what my nationality was. When he found out that I was Filipina, he asked if I was a mail-order bride because he was waiting for his bride to arrive in the US within a few weeks. After the initial shock of being classified as a mail-order bride without knowing who I was, I became angry. I informed him that I had been a New Yorker for most of my life as a US citizen and I was not a mail-order bride. My anger dissipated after a few minutes because I realized that this was just another stereotype that’s been projected via presumption of someone coming from a low income country. It’s an unfair assumption that Filipinas who come to the States are here to get a husband and become a citizen. In addition, the perception of Asian women to be fetishized by men like the murderer in Atlanta is demeaning and misogynistic.
While it’s true that there are women from the Philippines who come here to make a future for themselves or their family, making that a reality is through education and finding a job, not procuring a husband. Yes, there are women from the Philippines and other countries whose goal is to find a husband in order to provide for their families back home, but that’s not every woman. The women who were murdered in Atlanta were targeted by this man as a result of his own warped perceptions of Asian women.
Attacks on Asians have never been as visible or prevalent until the pandemic, and these recent attacks have become deadly. According to a New York Times article this past week, “In December, slurs about Asians and the term “Kung Flu” rose by 65 percent on websites and apps like Telegram, 4chan and The Donald, compared with the monthly average mentions from the previous 11 months on the same platforms, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute. The activity remained high in January and last month.” Pointing the fingers at Asians for the existence of COVID-19 combined with forced locked down for a year has made it convenient for so many to spew hatred on them. Even more disturbing is that according to NBC Asia America,”The research released by reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate on Tuesday revealed nearly 3,800 incidents were reported over the course of roughly a year during the pandemic”, 68% of which were reported by women.
As a woman whose daughter is Filipina and White, I have encountered some other stereotypes that nowadays, just make me shake my head. Questions like “oh are you her Mom?” when at a cash register paying for something or the look from me to her, wondering whether I’m some relative, makes me want to scream, “can’t you just keep your thoughts to yourself?”, but alas, there is always someone who makes unsolicited comments.
The shooting in Atlanta has made me realize how far we still have to go. Targeting races that are viewed as Other or Non-White is not new, given the history of slavery in this country. There are still inequalities in jobs and pay experienced by those who are not considered “white enough” or are a woman. Not everyone I meet will know my nationality right away, and it shouldn’t matter, but given the violence perpetrated by this past week, I’m not so sure.
My daughter has never experienced being stereotyped as a result of her race. I pray she never does, but in these uncertain times, who knows who will be targeted next? For people like my parents and so many others who came here looking for freedom and a chance to have a better life, the events this past week are a reminder that one’s race shouldn’t be the litmus test of who deserves to live in this country. Just like my parents and so many immigrants who defied all odds to come to this country, I will not be defined by my race because I am more than what you first see. I’m a human being…and Asian, shouldn’t that be enough?
Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.
62,000 people. That is the estimated number of Haitians who are still displaced from the 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti in January 2010; a heartbreaking disaster that claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced as many as 3 million people.
Elouse’s four cousins
….this is only 1% of the 900 people who lost their lives in Haiti to Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
900 lives…fathers, mothers, teachers, grandmas, little brothers, babies…lost in the waters of a sea that came on land and washed it out. A land crushed under debris created by a 145mph wind that knocked down concrete walls and tore down palm trees as if they were saplings just transplanted from a kindergarten classroom the day before.
To say that we feel for our sisters and brothers in Haiti is an understatement. My heart is heavy and it wants to scream because although it believes that we, together, will make things better, it is hard to see the road ahead when there is such a harsh wind blowing in one’s face.
To look at the state of Haiti now, with the lack of food and access, and the abundance of poverty, one may not remember how powerful a nation Haiti actually is.
In the 18th century, Toussaint-Louverture, Henri Christophe and Dessalines revolted in an effective guerilla war against the French colony. All three had been enslaved: they successfully ended slavery and regained freedom for the nation. They did this in 1791 against the French, in 1801 against the Spanish conquest, and in 1802 against an invasion ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte. They renamed Saint-Dominique after its original Arawak name, Haiti, which became the second independent nation in the Americas.
Such history should not go unnoticed because it is a significant example of the perseverance, love, and determination that courses through the veins of Haitians.
If I could say anything to my sisters and brothers in Haiti right now, if I could speak at all, I would say this:
“In the midst of the chaos; the heartbreak; the loss of life; the search for lives; the feeling that rebuilding will simply take too much energy…again; the pain; the tears that will run dry; the anguish, and all the feelings that weigh down your soul and may make you doubt your abilities, please remember who you are, what you have accomplished, and what you are capable of doing. You do not stand alone, because we stand with you. You do not sit alone, you do not swim alone, you do not cry alone, you do not hug your loved ones alone, you do not cry alone.
You do not cry alone, and you will not rebuild alone.
We are with you.
We are with you and we will laugh together again and you will see that we can get out of this. Please believe with me. I know it’s hard right now, and I do not pretend to understand what you’re going through, but please believe with me”.
To anyone who would like to assist, you may consider contacting any and all of these organizations:
Please remember that there is also a cholera outbreak because of lack of clean water, and it is also claiming lives. Help is needed most urgently! Please lets do what we can.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this hurricane, not only in Haiti but in neighboring countries including the southern US states. Sending you all love and happiness in the hopes that you keep believing and looking forward to another sunrise.
Have you ever been directly affected by a devastating storm? What would you say to those who are trying to rebuild their lives?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia at ThinkSayBe. Photo credit: Ricardo’s Photography. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!
We are nearing the end of summer here in the US, and I just put on my annual back to school safety puppet show for my kids. I started the practice when my eldest was just starting out, but even at ten years old, he enjoys sitting down for my Mom Production.
I came up with the idea years ago, not only to provide my kids with tips for self-care, but also to mollify my control issues.
When my first son was a toddler at home, and then a preschooler, I felt confident that I could shield him from certain dangers. However, once he started Kindergarten in the public school, I realized that there was much of his day that he would need to navigate on his own, even with support from teachers, staff and friends.
There are many lightly supervised zones where things only get noticed upon full escalation. That was hard for me to accept, but it’s life. So the talent show was born to help us both with this process, and it has stuck to this day.
I cover the big topics in an age-appropriate yet crystal clear manner:
Traveling to and from school. My kids take the bus most of the time, but there are special exceptions for playdates or activities. My puppet show covers who they are allowed to leave school grounds with, and what to do if they are unsure. This naturally brings in talking points around school staff versus unknown persons on campus, and our emergency contact list.
Private body parts. We review what they are and the fact that no one can touch, explore, or try to see anyone else’s. Not kids. Not grownups. No one. Accidental bathroom viewing aside, private parts are aptly named because they are private.
Now bathroom humor can be hilarious, but it’s important that the potty jokes are just words and do not actually cross the physical line.
Weapons. Toy weapons are not allowed at school. So guess what? Real weapons aren’t either. No guns or knives or cross bows or spears or anything of the like, whether it’s real or Nerf. If anyone has one with them, talks about having one hidden at the school or about bringing it to school, it needs to be reported.
Food, drugs, and alcohol. The bottom line is that food and drinks cannot be shared at school. This may sound harsh, but there are too many variables that could go wrong. Teacher-approved birthday treats and school bought lunches aside, you need to stick with what you brought. Some kids have allergies. Some kids need to take medicine. Some kids like to experiment with grown up stuff like beer and cigarettes even if it’s bad for them. So to make sure everyone has the right stuff that won’t harm them, don’t take food or anything consumable from other kids, and don’t share your own. We can plan snack parties and picnics together outside of the school day.
I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me, when hilarious looking puppets are walking you through it, times flies and giggles abound. But how much of this actually sinks in? Probably not all of it, but I do know that a few take-aways stick.
Those include tattling versus helping, the things that have a hard line you cannot cross, and when in doubt, talk with the staff in the school office.
Will my kids always make the choices I want them to? Probably not. However, when things do come up, we have a foundation from which to build. I will continue to do the back to school safety puppet show as long as my kids will sit down and watch. I am hoping to make it to college.
How do you prepare your kids for going back to school? Do you or your school address safety topics?
This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit is to the author.
Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!
“My daughter said she was going to go to school so that she can wipe away my tears. How is she wiping my tears away in the den of the terrorists?”
-mother of one of the #ChibokGirls, abducted on April 14th, 2014, speaking on Day 188 of their abduction -October 19th, 2014
As I looked at her I realized that all this woman’s hopes and aspirations rest on her daughter. For most of the poor people in this part of the world, children are like a source of pension; they are the ones that will help you in the future. They are the ones that will take care of you in your old age, when you are unable to look after yourself. They represent life. As I looked at her I also realized that her daughter means more to her than I can ever imagine. Her daughter is her everything. A source of hope.
These parents are ready to give their lives for their children to have an education. That was what the #ChibokParents did. Amidst the insecurity in Nigeria, they still wanted their children to be educated to better their positions in life. They knew the only way to break the shackles of poverty was through education. For daring to send their children to school to have a better life, instead they have been punished.
These children grow up to not only take care of their parents but siblings as well so that a generation of people who have survived the shackles of poverty would emerge.
For some, poverty is going to school in the morning without breakfast and returning home not expecting lunch but still striving everyday to be in school so that one day you will look back and say I SURVIVED (I AM A SURVIVOR).
I remember one of the fathers at one of our Sit Ins for the #BringbackOurGirls campaign—which started on April 30th with a protest demanding for the rescue of #ChibokGirls—saying he does not have a Television. All he has is a Radio from which he gets to hear of our activities. I wept! In this day of iPads, Tablets, iPhones and what have you, someone does not have a simple television that most of us take for granted.
So now you can begin to understand that to the #ChibokParents these girls are much more than daughters, they are future benefactors
A lot of parents, especially mothers, are forced to live a life of servitude and poverty in order for their children to be educated. The education that is taken for granted in most developed countries is not so in Nigeria and many other African countries.
I remember growing up and how my parents had to struggle to make sure we were educated. We often had to go without food when the situation grew dire but never were my school fees unpaid. I remember my father trekking long distance to buy a textbook I needed badly because the money was not enough for him to pay for a bus. All the suffering was for the children to be able to break the vicious cycle of poverty and one day to be able to take care of ourselves and also take care of our parents and siblings.
A lot of parents invest all they have in their children. For those who are poor, they do not have cars, houses or any investments. All they have are their children. Can you imagine these children being abducted, as is the case with the #ChibokGirls, abducted from school, where they wanted to get an education and make life better for themselves and their families? When these children of the poor are abducted and taken away, the future of a whole generation also is taken away.
As I looked at the woman with tears streaming down her face, all I could see was my own mum, who had to be the head-of-household, who worked all day and night to ensure I had an education. I look back to the days when there was no food to be eaten and yet we found our way to school. I thought of what a burden it must have been for my parents to get us educated, to sacrifice all that they had.
While some of my parent’s contemporaries were busy enjoying life in the way they could with what they had, my parents tightened their belt to make sure that we, their children, had an education and of course today we are their pension. If any of us had been abducted while seeking an education, where would we be today?
As I stood watching the Chibok mother, all I could think about was my mother struggling to give her children the life she did not have and how hard she worked to provide that for us. I thought of my mother, now living in the lap of luxury because she worked so hard four sake. As I stood looking at the Chibok Mother, I realized she too must be allowed to break the shackles of poverty. She too must live in comfort, as her daughter promised her. Her tears must be wiped away. As I stood looking at her I realized that I cannot stop demanding for the rescue of the #ChibokGirls, for that Chibok mother who has given her all, hoping that one day her tears would be wiped away.
I realized that I must demand the rescue of the Chibok girls.We all must.
Demanding the safe return of the Chibok girls to me is like making a demand for the ME that was 23 years ago. As I stood I realized that no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much we are intimidated and harassed, no matter the threat of arrest from our government, I cannot afford to give up on the #ChibokGirls.
To give up on the #ChibokGirls is to give up on myself (the WHO that I have become) and to give up on the mother with tears streaming down her face, waiting for her daughter, who promised to wipe away her tears.
This is an original, Guest Post for World Moms Blog from our sister in Nigeria and mother of two, Aisha Yesufu.
Aisha Yesufu was born in Kano, Nigeria. When she turned 40, in December 2013, she decided it was time to devote her life fully to the services of others. As she describes it,
‘The first 40 years of my life I devoted to myself, so I could be financially independent and help others. But they say: you can’t help the poor by being poor yourself, so the next 40 years, God willing, I am going to devote to others; for me, a full life will be based on what positive differences I have made in the life of another.”
And in came the unfortunate tragedy of the abduction of the #ChibokGirls. Following their abduction, on April 14th 2014, Aisha joined a group of like minded people to demand the rescue of the 219 school girls, who still today remain in the hands of the terrorists. These girls, between the ages of 16 to 18, were abducted from their school, in their quest for knowledge. The group known as the #Bring Back Our Girls campaign has been able to push the issue of their rescue in public discussion both locally and internationally.
Aisha is the coordinator of the daily Sit In for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group. The group has, without fail, come out daily since the 30th of April, 2014, despite all forms of intimidations and harassment by sponsored persons.
To get involved in the conversation and learn more about the plight of the 219 Nigerian School Girls, visit: #BringBackOurGilrs
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
Four years ago I bought my last body lotion and body wash. Two years ago, for several months I went “no-poo”. Around that time I also threw all my deodorants in a trash can.
The only thing I have gotten back to is the shampoo. I do, though, try to make it myself every now and then. The rest of the cosmetics are not very welcome on my bathroom shelf, unless I make them myself.
Because of that, I normally try to stay on top of situations in which I may run out of something (and also because I simply refuse to use the toiletries that are on my husband’s shelf in the bathroom). Funny thing is that he has way more “beauty products” than I do, and he does not have a lot of them, compared to most people.
… but one day it happened, I ran out of my shampoo…
Luckily it was a shopping day. Happy that I didn’t actually have to make an extra trip to the grocery store just to get a shampoo, with my greasy hair tied in a ponytail, I left the house. Because it was pretty late, and we were pretty exhausted from a busy day, we had decided we were going to stop by only one store, not two, like we normally do. (more…)
Ewa was born, and raised in Poland. She graduated University with a master's degree in Mass-Media Education. This daring mom hitchhiked from Berlin, Germany through Switzerland and France to Barcelona, Spain and back again!
She left Poland to become an Au Pair in California and looked after twins of gay parents for almost 2 years. There, she met her future husband through Couch Surfing, an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals.
Today she enjoys her life one picture at a time. She runs a photography business in sunny California and document her daughters life one picture at a time.
Below is a guest post by Joanna Landau, the founder of Kinetis. I turned to her when I was struggling to write a post about 3 teenagers kidnapped in Israel by terrorists. I knew I wanted to bring attention to the situation because I have been appalled at the lack of press this situation was getting around the world. Fellow World Moms confirmed for me that in their respective countries, the news was getting close to no coverage and in many instances, no coverage at all. Yet here in Israel, no one has thought about anything else for the past 6 days. Joanna has managed to capture all my thoughts and feelings. Please share her message.
The phone rings. “Hey, Mom, it’s me”, your 16 year old son says, “I’m on my way home”. You put the phone down, and go back to whatever it is you’re doing. An hour later, you start to worry, he’s not answering his phone. Two hours later you and your husband start to panic, you call friends, relatives, start canvassing the neighborhood. Three, four, five hours later, you know something’s happened. And then you realize you’ve joined that awful statistic, something’s happened. Turns out your son hitchhiked his way home with a couple of friends, and has been kidnapped. Your worst fears have come true. And now what? What would you do to bring him back, assuming the police are doing everything they can to find him?
There’s a boy called Naftali, and he was kidnapped together with his friends Gilad and Eyal 6 days ago. Naftali called his mother, a half an hour before he got into the car.
This is not a hypothetical situation. It happened in Israel and you may have not heard of it, because it sounds like the kind of thing that can happen in a place where there’s a conflict going on.
And some may put a political twist on it, bringing in all sorts of issues that can cloud the basic, simple fact that three youngsters have been kidnapped.
In Israel it’s the only thing on our mind, as a nation fears for three kids, not soldiers, who have disappeared, apparently taken by terrorists. But it’s not a political story: for every mother, wherever you live, it’s a personal story. Because these things can happen anywhere, and children and teens have become innocent victims of the evils of this world.
Gilad, 16 years old, likes to bake and volunteers with youth his age. Apparently, when he steps into a room, his smile lights it up. Naftali plays the guitar, loves football and is an excellent student. Eyal is 19, likes to sing, and sang at his cousin’s wedding not long ago. These are kids, just like yours. They don’t represent the state, they probably never imagined they would. But everyone is turning this into a political, or diplomatic discussion. It’s not. It’s about how fragile this world is and whether you care.
Imagine it was your kid who phoned 6 days ago. Imagine what you’d be feeling today, knowing he’s in the hands of merciless terrorists, or worse. I’m usually a very positive person, with an optimistic outlook on life and a constant desire to make the most of what we have. But as I look at my own three kids, who are 12, 10 and 7 and home safely with me, I wonder how Naftali, Gilad and Eyal’s parents must be feeling.
Premised on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to raise awareness for the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls, a campaign to #BringBackOurBoys has also exploded online. But only in Israeli and Jewish circles, and hardly in traditional global media sources. Because everyone else is looking at this and just moving on.
If you’re a mother, and you understand how it feels to love your child, and if you believe that children, more than anyone, are innocent until proven guilty, you can’t and shouldn’t remain indifferent to this incident. If you have a 16 or 19 year old kid, hug them tonight, and if these words resonate with you, snap a quick selfie together and help the world #BringBackOurBoys .
Photo Credit: Maya Ben-David & Avner Seliger
This was an original guest post for World Moms Blog by Joanna Landau.
Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer.
Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love.
You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.