Tell me the truth — do I really have to spend the rest of my life wrestling with ethnic identity issues?
Can’t I just be me?
What the hell does any of this mean anyway?
More than half a century of personal soul searching has not brought much resolution:
- Decade #1 (Ages 0-10): Hated being called “Betty Liu”/”Betty Lou.”
- Decade #2 (Ages 11-20): Wished I wasn’t living in Chinatown ghetto.
- Decade #3 (Ages 21-30): Loved having long hair & Chinese jewelry.
- Decade #4 (Ages 31-40): Blamed my parents for raising me wrong.
- Decade #5 (Ages 41-50): Coping with divorce; ethnicity irrelevant.
- Decade #6 (Ages 51-55): Should I paint pictures of sushi? Or apples?
Thankfully, this next half a century of babbling on the shrink’s couch should be a little more interesting. After all, people of Asian heritage have reached a critical mass in the United States. Please, please, let us truly be at the tipping point, where re-invention is possible and life becomes new.
As for what’s teetering on the brink of celebration….
If you’re interested in knowing more about Jun Choi, check out his campaign here. I liked his message. He talked about what it was like to take on Edison’s police union, downsized his local government and helped reduce taxes. He ran for re-election but lost by a few hundred votes.
And I’m sorry I cut off the head of the guy in the photo collage above. Here he is:
Becoming a Journal columnist means Jeff gets a coveted, hand-drawn hedcut. These pictures are painstakingly drawn dot-by-dot and have become the paper’s artistic signature. Jeff named his column “Tao Jones.” It will appear every Friday on the Journal’s Speakeasy blog, which covers entertainment and the arts.
I am so dense that he had to explain the column’s title to me. It’s a punny play on “Dow Jones,” the Journal’s parent company. Tao — which is pronounced “dow” — is the marvelous Chinese philosophy about finding “the way.” The column launches tomorrow. Let’s help our boy reach the tipping point by becoming his readers!
And now, a little about my own potential tipping point…
Last summer, I made a few paintings of Asian food. Looking at sushi and Chinese dumpling buns as art objects gave me a new way to access my culture issues. Painting forces me to stop thinking and just feel. I can honestly say that with the brush in hand, being Chinese and American wasn’t an emotional debate of “bad” or “good.” It became a matter of light and shadow, color and warmth.
Now, if only I could stay in that head all the time.