Preparing for Death: Radical Change

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts,
than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Preparing for Death
You call it “Radical” because it is Change

Written by Granpda Dinosaur

I want to be considered a human being.

I do not want to be portrayed as a Cambodian Housewife who cooks and cleans diligently in a traditional household, waiting for the husband to come back from work. A husband that is assumed I got through arranged marriage. I do not want people to assume that my pure-blooded husband Cambodian and my pure-blooded self will go to temple every four days to pray (for a child) or pay respects to our ancestors. I don’t want to be stereotyped. I want people to see me for who I am, a human being.

A human being the goes to school, University, College, does apprenticeship, LEARNS! A human being that might want to be a Librarian as much as a Dentist.

Do not stereotype me.

You give no no options but to rebel.

I am not an poor peasant, I am not a Cambodian refugee, I am not (considered) a Canadian, I am not Chinese, I am not Japanese, I am not a mathematician, I am not your Asian stereotype. Do not PUT me in a box, do not PUT words in my mouth, do not PUT clothes on my body—dress me up as a clown, a doctor, a prep, whatever you feel that Asian people are like. Do not meet me and assume I know everything about Cambodian culture, that I can recount the population count perfectly, sing the national anthem—

—NOT because I am ashamed of my Cambodian heritage, not because I am not Cambodian enough BUT BECAUSE I AM NOT YOUR DATABASE FOR CULTURE! I have nothing to prove to you, and if you want to step on my throat because you are so mad that I won’t go along with what you think: Go ahead.

I am prepared to die, because death is better than slavery

To be enslaved and have to live my life by the demands of others. To have to walk down a path of “what if’s” or “maybes” all while doing things I don’t want to do for a cause that I know is not morally right and will enslave my sisters and their sons and daughters. In the future I would like hope and options, not poverty, illiteracy and despair

Before I am completely enslaved, I will act. Even if it just creates a little ripple, a little change in my community of family and friends is better than no change and continued suffering.

I will not be chained to the past, BUT I will NOT forget Cambodia’s genocide. How can I forget? It’s in my mind everyday as both my parents are genocide survivors. I live everyday as if I have lived through the genocide myself, not because I have, not because I feel as though I have to make up for the fact that I am PRIVILEGED to be born in Canada (and I am) and did not suffer (and I have)—but because I am Cambodian and that is where I come from.

I know that my way of life is not normal, I know my desires are “pie in the sky,” I am not immune to criticism—Let it come. I am prepared to rise to the occasion.

And by criticism, I mean GOOD CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM *hint hint* gives humans a place to grow. Not, “why are you dating a White Man? You should MARRY a Cambodian man? (Implication: Have pure Cambodian babies)” or “You should have more coloured friends?” I have no obligations to give out free handouts to people of my race, I AM nice to them. I AM courteous. I AM friendly—Until you start to meddle with my life and tell me I am not Cambodian enough. I have ENOUGH white people reminding me that I am not White and telling me I should buy a Honda Civic! Thank you White people!

I’m born in Canada, I’m not White-Canadian, but I’m not “Cambodian” at all. If you stereotype me at all, I will suffer.

I have nothing to gain but if I can give you some perspective of my life, if you can see things—the world, my story—than it is worth all the heartache, and toil and suffering.

I am a Radical because I want change. I want to be a human being and not the person most people just want me to be fulfilling. A role that is have babies and being a gear in a machine in traditions that are unfavourable to women—But there are good Cambodian Traditions worth saving. I want to see those traditions preserved, at the same time it’s not odd if it can be improved as well. I do not wish the destruction of tradition, but I would rather prefer to be included positively than kicking and screaming.

I find it is better to question, than accept blindly.

I am a Radical, whatever that Radical may be. I want change. I want a better life for the children in the poorest parts of Toronto and in my community. Change is radical, it’s life altering but people need to make alterations to their lives in order to live.

I am willing to own up to that change, support that change, take the flack, change, be criticized, lose. I am willing and prepared.

I need to.

I need to pioneer new options for Cambodians, Jamaicans, Indians, Gays, Lesbians, Fat Peoples, Disabled people, Native Canadians, the face of those who have been covered and silenced. I need to speak up in order to give all those people a chance to break through after myself and take a chance to talk as well.

Fuck bridge building! We don’t have enough roads!

I’ll be the pioneer for that change.

For positive change.

I do not want to perpetuate stereotypes.

I’m going to end with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, which is:

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

– Mahatma Gandhi

You damn straight, Gandhi. You damn straight.


~ by l on April 25, 2008.

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