Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a talk hosted by Eddie Huang, the writer of Fresh Off the Boat. Before I went, I really didn’t know much about him and what he was about but I truly and genuinely left the auditorium feeling empowered and ready to live life in a whole different way.
From the time he started talking, I felt this weird connection with Eddie that I rarely feel with most people. He is a modern renaissance man, which is something I also want for myself in the future. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in one profession and I also don’t want my profession to define who I am as a person. I have found that although I don’t have one outstanding talent, I am good at a lot of different things which I should be able to use to my advantage.
Eddie grew up in Orlando and was ostracized by friends and family for identifying with hip hop culture. I grew up in Orlando and was ridiculed by friends and family, because I listened to Kpop and found myself a place within Korean culture.
Whenever people first hear that I listen to Kpop, I get the typical “OMG that’s so weird” reaction that can hold either a positive or negative connotation. More often than not, it’s the latter. I was told by black people that I thought I was white or Asian because I didn’t listen to the latest hip hop song or I didn’t use the right slang. When you’re a young and impressionable teenager, comments like these really hurt.
My natural reaction was to hide my love for Kpop from the world. Although now I am much more open about it, there is still a certain degree of hesitation to tell new friends. A lot of people don’t realize that my love for Korean culture stemmed from this feeling that I wasn’t being accepted in my society and even in my own home. I had to look to the other side of the globe to finally find something that made me truly happy.
Eddie stressed that your identity should come from you. There should be no other person on this Earth that can tell you what you should identify as. In my case, I identify as a black Haitian woman but why should that keep me from enjoying other cultures? In my opinion, life is supposed to be a learning experience. I find that learning about other cultures and observing how other people live their daily lives is such a beautiful thing. I just wish that others could see that as well.
Another thing that is really important is the way we need to address diversity. We cannot have a true conversation about diversity unless we include everyone, including white people. Time and time again, I find that people of color tend to shut out white people from the conversation because “they won’t understand”. But honestly, how do we expect them to ever understand if we even don’t give them a chance to hear our voices and learn? Obviously, they will never be able to have the same experiences but without them, we can never expect to make a true change.
Lastly, Eddie said that he doesn’t really regret any decisions he has made in his life because at the time, he did what he thought was right. I really love this type of thinking. I have said this exact thing to people about my life and they never seem to get it. Yes. I know that not every choice I have made in my life was a good one, but I see every bad choice as a learning experience and a chance for me to develop into a better person. Why should I waste precious time dwelling on some stupid stuff I did in the past? Learn from it and move on.
If I ever have a chance to see Eddie again, I will definitely jump on it. I really want to sit and have a super long conversation with him about anything and everything. I’ve never felt so connected to someone I barely know and it’s a strange feeling.
OH AND OMG HE RETWEETED ME. I’VE NEVER FELT SO ACCOMPLISHED.
Until next time,
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