I’m very close to the Asian community, and your article reminds me a great deal of the experiences of many young Asians in America. It’s not uncommon to hear about households where the parents would not speak their native language in the hope that a greater level of English fluency would give their children a better chance at success. I can’t speak to whether their efforts were successful (I think it has less to do with the language at home and more to do with the desire for success that they engender within their children), but I can say that many of the children are like fish out of water when they go to the countries of their parents’ birth. I’ve heard them disparagingly referred to as Twinkies, bananas, and coconuts: yellow (or brown) on the outside, but white on the inside. As for myself, I’ve always encouraged young parents to make sure their kids know their heritage and native tongue; in my opinion, it’s crucial that they do so (which is, after all, a major part of your article). My youngest son is half-Filipino, half white (and passes for 100% white), but he lived in Manila for long enough (and graduated high school there) that he knows more of the culture, the language, and the food than many full-blood Filipinos who were born and raised in America. He’s told me more than once that sending him to Manila to finish school was the best thing we ever did for him, and he and his wife fully intend for their own kids to go to school there. Besides, the schools there are far less violent and drug-ridden as are the schools here in America.

The point is, I suspect your parents’ motives were the same as those Asian parents I know who wouldn’t teach their own children their native tongue. For that reason, while I strongly agree with your determination to see your personal journey through, I hope you can forgive your parents (if you haven’t done so already). After all, what parents don’t want to see their children climb to greater heights than they themselves did?

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Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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