Living History


Someone once told me that history was useless.

And even though I loved history -

loved it like a child loves her bedtime stories,

falling asleep to dreams of battles and triumphs so long ago,

where evil dwelled as an unbound monster only in the past -

I thought they were right.

But they, and I, were wrong.

I did not truly love history then.

I did not love it like a part of me, like all of me -

until I understood why chink hurt so much when that white boy turned to me

why my immigrant mother got disgusted looks

why people pulled their eyes in a slant at me

why in these moments, I felt as though I was stripped away -

and I cried so much when I learned about the Civil Rights movement,

feminism, Hellen Keller, with countless others locked in

revolutions for humanity -

not because the fight was over, but because it yet lives

and wondered why history class never mentioned people like me -

deaf, Chinese and American, female,

- unless it was to point out those very aspects, as if that was all I (and they) were good for, 

why I never saw someone like me on the TV screen, and thought for years

I wasn't pure Chinese, because I was so "dark for an Asian" as non-Asians commented,

why the people

the government

books and media

never saw that I existed, and history didn't, either, until I learned

more history, more living history, more of the world beyond myself

understanding why things were the way they were, and

who I am because of that.

History is so much more than a useless story to me.   

I do not love history like a child adores her fairytales, but

I love history -

love it like the painful light of a rising sun against opening eyes

like a bitter medicine I need to swallow,

to taste truth

to feel myself

to know my right

to live. 


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