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**Note to Readers:
There may be incidents in my story where you cringe. As I wrote them, I cringed too. I share my story, including the cringe parts, because they take away the power of guilt and shame, and they give way for the truth — the truth that we are people who can only do the best that we can, with the resources and knowledge that we are aware of. It is whether we choose to continue those cringe causing activities, or choose other paths when faced with similar choices, that make our present selves, creating our character. We have the ability to make choices. We have the ability to seek resources and knowledge. The problem is that we are too afraid to share who we are, and therefore limit the relationships we cam have with others.
I invite you to read my story, and to share yours, whether it is through conversation, art, music, film, clothing, food… whatever venue you choose.
My only request is that your choices consider this very important question: Is it safe?
Risk taking is another discussion, and I am not saying that we should hide in fear. Risk taking looks different to everyone.
Thrill seeking to get that high can be a result of fear of addressing real life issues.
I encourage question asking, and I apologize for bullies who made you feel like you could not ask questions.
Born Felicia Jane Chew on March 1, 1971, youngest daughter of three. Two older brothers, and parents who immigrated from China.
Dad immigrated as a young boy, and Grandfather owned a laundry shop. On Dad’s side, we are the descendants of the Chinese equivalent of Dartagnan, of the Three Musketeers.
Mom is the youngest of nine siblings, and immigrated in her 20’s, fleeing the change of Communist China.
I was the rebel of the family, and always very busy. Piano lessons, ballet and tumbling classes, activities at the Parks and Rec Programs, and a product of dual culture – American amd Chinese.
As a young boy, Dad experienced racism. Coupled with other personal reasons, Dad spoke only English to me and my brothers. Mom spoke Chinese to us, as we teased her for her broken English.
I was the rebel because I saw the meanness, and I did not want to experience it. I wished my name was Linda, and that I had blonde hair, and a ski jump nose. I wished I was white.
I hated other Asians, especially the ones who talked too loud, farmer blew their noses, and were recent immigrants. I made fun of them, called them names. I was not one of them. I was an ABC (American-Born Chinese) American. They were FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat) not Americans.
I was ashamed to be Chinese.
It wasn’t until my junior and senior years in high school that my tune started to change. And it wasn’t until Year 3 at the University that it changed even more.
I started as an Econ major… hated math, but wanted to be the CEO of a prospering business. I wanted the American Dream – the two BMWs in the driveway, house with white picket fence, 2.2 kids, manicured lawn, perfect husband.
I became an Asian-American Studies Major, which is where I realized I was not alone in self-hate, but also recognized that there were peers who wanted to cause serious damage to others who dared to breathe in their space.
I hated the word Diversity. I hated it because I saw people talking about change and helping others, but really had no idea what they were talking about. Instead of making things better, they were further dividing people.
Assimilation had failed in the 60’s. It was failing in the 90’s.
“If you keep doing what you’ve done, you’re gonma keep gettin’ what you got.”
I joked that I graduated with two degrees: My B.A. and my MrS. Our oldest son was born. We got married. We moved around several places, I worked several jobs. We bought a new house in a great neighborhood at a great price (courtesy of California funding programs).
I taught in the next town over, made rapid advancement at the school.
But we had challenges. I attribute them to undiagnosed and untreated depression, uncontrollable rage, improper resources, loopholes, rule-following, religion…. but the primary challenge was Fear.
We left to build a 100% off the grid home in the Cibola National Forest. The real reason was due to a belief that the world was going to end, and the government was not going to protect us, so we were going to need to protect ourselves.
About my religious journey:
Several of my family relatives are Christians. Every year, each of us cousins would be proselytized by a particular auntie prior to receiving our Christmas red envelope. In Grade 4, a friend invited me to church, and I attended for a year. In Grade 12, I went to church with another friend, became a youth leader, and was connected with a church in my University town. I did not like that church, and went to another one instead. I became a youth leader, a worship team leader, a bible study leader for the Asians in the Fellowship, met my ex-husband.
I had grown up with mixed messages about religion:
I grew up with the story of one of my Christian aunties not giving shelter to my mother and grandmother. This story is still unresolved.
Another story is from after graduating from University — one of my best friends wanted to be a full-time staff member of the Fellowship we participated in. She was told no. I was disheartened. But she went on to seminary, met her busband, and they are pastors in their own churches now.
Another story begins in 2008 — my family became involved in a church that promoted the teachings of two books: How To Train Up Your Children and Created To Be His Help Meet .
Things were changing in my life, and they were not for the better. I left the Cibola National Forest and moved to Tucson.
I came to Tucson in February 2011. I filed for a divorce, which was granted in November 2011.
I worked several different jobs, ran for City Council in 2017, and started up this website.
I currently live in Tucson, Arizona, in a 2 bedroom home built in 1948, and I am working on helping my community be a better place. I invite others to “chew on ideas, chew on food, chew’s wisdom because our children are watching.”
I will be adding to my story, because I believe that transparency, facing fears, and breaking stigmas of guilt and shame, will create communities for #EachOfUs and #AllOfUs. We will have homes, not just houses.
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Viva! (la revolucion)