December 13, 2015

Karissa Chen: "It’s simply that you cannot imagine you could be wrong, and so you cannot see."


The thing I want to tell that male journalist with the Asian wife, or even to Michael Derrick Hudson with his stolen name, is that these Asian women whom you’ve reduced to names and monikers and symbols of your discontent — they fall outside of your imaginations. Despite all of your privilege, your belief that you have the right to imagine and shape worlds as you see fit, you lack the capacity to conceive of the multitudes that lie inside the women whom you claim to speak for. Your singular wife. Yi-Fen Chou. My grandmother. Myself. And so many other Asian women I know. We are constantly breaking stereotypes. We have varying, changing dreams, and move through this world expressing ourselves in unexpected ways. We are living, breathing examples of how your constructions of us are paper-thin, weightless. It’s simply that you cannot imagine you could be wrong, and so you cannot see.


One more point on audacity. I don’t think all audacity looks the same. The audacity that a white man has because he believes he is entitled to something very particular, something very expected is different from the audacity of an immigrant who has no idea what is coming, who plunges ahead despite not knowing, but who, despite all odds, believes she deserves something better, something greater than her imagination. This is the same audacity that will allow her to let go of everything she’s worked for if it comes to it, because she has the audacity to reimagine her future, again and again, as is necessary. She has the audacity to expect better even when the world tells her she shouldn’t dare.

- Karissa Chen, The Audacity to Dream: On Asian Women, Feminism, and My Grandmother

[Read the rest of the essay here.]


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