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Reflecting and Reimagining my Family Values
History connects us to the significant past that portrays the kind of people we are today. It tells us more about our families, culture, and traditions. I understand where my family came from and how vital such origin is in my life. My family has always been my life’s priority; it sticks in my memories, whether in school or taking time out with my friends. It has been a significant pillar in my life. In today’s society, emotional support has become so crucial in life. One vital source of such emotional support is family. Despite the shortcomings that I can associate a family with, its significance complements other networks such as the religion-another significant community of my life. Interacting with people that share my beliefs has been crucial in my life. However, it is the family that has provided me with basic needs. It has given me values and connected me to my culture and traditions. Even today, it continues to shape my understanding of life experiences.
My Family Origin and Childhood
My family has a nuclear setup, consisting of myself, one brother, dad, and mum. We have lived in the United States for a long time now but never forgot our origin. We migrated into the U.S from Vietnam with my family several years ago. Since then, this country has become part of me, the place I proudly call my motherland. Vietnam remains in my memories but not in the same magnitude as my parents. Their love for Vietnam is still massive. Undeniably, they would have wanted to live there and give us the best life they could afford. But, wishes may never get fulfilled because of unavoidable reasons. They had to be comfortable with the reality; they would barely step a foot in Vietnam again after moving to America. It was a sacrifice I never took lightly. They did what they could to give us a better life here. They did not mind the challenges that faced other immigrants. In 1875, immigration laws came into existence to prevent further increase of Asian immigrants in this country (Wilson, 1986, p. 250). We were lucky that such laws did not block us from settling here – a place of opportunities for everyone.
Over the many years, my parents have learned a lot of new things and experiences about this country; its history, manner of socialization, society expectations, foreseen and unforeseen challenges, and many more. Migration can be a challenging process. Sometimes it separates loved ones and brings new realities to the migrants that might be challenging or pleasing. In the 1960s to 80s, young men from minority neighborhoods were victims of racism and unexplained imprisonments. As Western and Wildeman (2009) note, this experience led to what was considered a prison boom. Young men from minority neighborhoods became victims of mass imprisonments. Fortunately, my parents did not shy away from getting to know the system and doing everything possible to become fully integrated into this country’s culture and traditions. As we grew, my parents kept reminding us that we must adopt the culture and civilizations and behave respectfully towards other people.
Individualistic V. Collectivistic
One thing that resonates perfectly with my life is the values and features my family shares with extended Black families. In the course lectures, we have learned how African American families relied on each other for support. Uncles and aunties were a crucial part of children’s lives. Despite my lack of reliance on extended families, as in the case of Black families, our small family has been helping each other overcome daily challenges. My parents taught us the need to support each other. They emphasized a collectivistic approach to life and parenting. They worked so hard in different jobs to afford us the life they would have wanted for their children. The help they got from distant relatives was valuable. They would also go out of their pocket to lend a helping hand in return for their kindness. This collectivistic approach cemented the value of hard work in my life. This value has aided me to be a better person today. I work hard in education to achieve success and give my parents the respect they deserve for instilling this value in my life at an early stage. I want to succeed in life and be financially stable to support other family members. I want to fulfill my dreams and make my parents’ aspirations come true in the U.S.
Since childhood, my parents have taught me the essence of showing respect in life. They started by replicating respect in their care towards me. As we read in the article, Justice: Childhood love lessons, parental love towards children is a vital step in teaching them to respect other people when they grow up (Hooks, 2000). My parents respectfully nurtured me, disciplining me humanely and with love instead of beating me up like in some families. They insisted on the purpose of sharing with other people who might need our help. Occasionally, they taught me how to share snacks and other things with my brother from a young age. They also encouraged me to share with my neighbors. Today, I consider those moments vital in shaping me to be who I am today. I respect other cultures and traditions, beliefs, and life choices. I don’t need to look at a white or African American student and see the color or their race; they are fellow humans.
Sociopolitical Systems of Oppression
Racial oppression has been the form of oppression my family has gone through over the years. I have seen racial bias in almost all spheres of life, from workplaces and schools to government institutions. Several years ago, I would get bullied by other students and children in the surrounding areas. Being among the few Asians in my community and school, most viewed me as an outsider. Experiencing racism in my life as an immigrant shaped my perspective massively. For instance, my parents would always tell us stories of how they got racially abused on their way to or from work. These experiences would make us feel anxious for the fear that we would face them later in our lives. My parents’ co-workers made fun of them for how they could not make good English statements at first. Then we were able to adapt and eventually gathered the strength to endure and improve in our responses to such experiences. These biases have turned me into a hard worker. I want to prove that it is possible to succeed despite the challenges.
Community of Importance: Religious Community
Other than the efforts we made as a family to overcome racial oppression and other life challenges, we have managed to get massive support from our religion and faith. We have remained strong, focusing on the positives instead of the negatives. Religion and spirituality instill hope and promotes strength (McNeil Smith & Landor, 2018). Religion is our survival system in oppressive moments. As McNeil Smith and Landor say, marginalized groups often turn to religion to protect against severe stress consequences caused by discrimination. When I feel weak and anxious, I pray and meditate. I focus on the good things that have happened in my life, things that I could not have controlled by my power. Listening to spiritual leaders inspires me to remain hopeful and focus on tomorrow’s opportunities. It has been a challenging journey, yet I have managed through it all because of being faithful. The church community has also been instrumental in solidifying my core values of respect and charity. I have also learned the significance of volunteering, helping the less fortunate, and looking beyond my needs.
Reimagining my Future Family
I expect my community to continue to adapt to the U.S. culture and traditions and accept that some things may not change abruptly soon. I intend to speak out when necessary when I encounter injustice in society. By speaking out, I can also get involved in the life of other students like me, helping them understand how to live a better life and socialize with people of diverse backgrounds. It is okay to feel anxious but not too late to denounce feelings of inferiority caused by continued discrimination and abuse. Several core values have played a role in my life, such as communication, hard work, collectivistic efforts, respect, and spirituality. These values have made me appreciate my history and remain positive. I will continue to show gratitude to my parents’ commitment to raising me and providing what they could. Then, the coming generation will hear from me concerning life experiences in our time; how we navigated through oppression and biases in the community. I hope my children will enjoy more freedom, willing to explore their passions fearlessly. I see a future where people of my community will be resilient and no longer live in fear or get bullied for the skin of their color.
Hooks, B. (2000). Justice: Childhood Love Lessons.
McNeil Smith, S., & Landor, A. M. (2018). Toward a better understanding of African American families: Development of the sociocultural family stress model. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10(2), 434-450. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12260
Western, B., & Wildeman, C. (2009). undefined. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 621(1), 221-242. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716208324850
Wilson, M. N. (1986). The Black extended family: An analytical consideration. Developmental Psychology, 22(2), 246-258. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16220.127.116.11
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