Thursday, November 10, 2016

the tears I cry

I'm going to be taking a hiatus from social media for a little bit, because, honestly, the election results have broken my heart.

Authors, especially children's authors, like to think that their work is important. I did the TED talk, I share my stories and push my books because I thought it would build bridges, and open hearts and minds. I believed that people weren't racist, they were just unexposed. They just needed to see that people who didn't look like them could be as American and, more importantly, as human as they were.

I don't know what I believe now.  

The election has told me that half of this country believes that I don't belong in this country, that many of my friends don't belong here and probably that even my daughter doesn't belong here. Regardless of the Constitution, where we were born or how long we've been here, we will never be American enough to them.

And, what hurts me so deeply, is that they don't want to change their minds. 

People have told me the election was about jobs or healthcare and not about race. But, the end result is that it is now okay to always think of me as a foreigner, to always think of me as an "other." 

I have stood up in a school in Taiwan and told the students that as much as I am proud of my Asian heritage, I am glad I am American. I have told families that the hyphen in Asian-American is a bridge between two cultures that allows you experience the best of both. I have told packed rooms how I wouldn't want to be anything other than what I am.

I still believe that. Because I still love America. But the tears fall because I know it does not love me back.

24 comments:

AA said...

Sitting with you in your pain. Heartbroken just about sums it up. Take good care of yourself.

Karen Romano Young said...

Dear Grace,

I tried to do this too and found I couldn't do it. It left me sitting in my own head, angry, crying and nauseated. I've realized that I need the shared community of others who feel the same way, and that I am not good enough on my own at coming up with how to go forward. Your absence will be felt, and is a loss to this community, so I hope you come back soon. Grace, for lots of people you are an ambassador. Because of you I've learned about lots of things that I wouldn't have been as aware of without your art and writing, but also because of your posts and blogs. And I think that your previous faith in our big country was not unfounded, although I know that this is a very hard and fragile thing right now. Together we can do great things, and if our heartbreak now galvanizes us for the future, that will be a good thing. Sending love -- Wren

Jules at 7-Imp said...

I don't know what to say, because I'm still angry, though (as a white person) I'll never know what it feels like to feel your anger here. I'm sorry. He is not my president. I send love.

Alisha Garcia said...

Although generations of my family were born here, I still hurt for similar reasons you do. I thought our America was different, more accepting. I don't want anyone to feel like they don't belong here.

Nivair said...

I love you and your work so much. You and your work are the definition of America, to me. As more and more children who have read your work grow up and become able to vote, I know they will reflect the values we both believe in, and make us a better country. I thank you so much for your art, and I thank you for doing what you can to take care of yourself. I send lots of love to you and your family.

Glo said...

Grace, I still remember your visit to the Portland Classical Chinese Garden 15 years ago. It is now rebranded as Lan Su Garden. As a board member of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, I encourage all to engage in civic discourse so we learn, prepare and advocate for all the people the rights we as Americans have an inalienable right to exercise. Cacaportland.org

Unknown said...

My heart is breaking for you and this country. Take care of yourself. I'll be continuing to show my students your TED talk and teach your books so when they become teachers themselves, they can continue to work for justice and hope.

kb in nh said...

Because of you my children's lives are richer, and my life is richer. Your books are rarely on the bookshelf at our house because they are read over and over and over, for many years now. My children have pestered me for years for ugly vegetables, soup dumplings, and all the other foods you describe so enticingly in your books. Because of you they want to study abroad in Asia. The heroines in your books let my daughters know it is not only OK to be a little bit different, but that our strength lies in that difference. And I will never think of you as anything but an AMERICAN writer, because your writing embodies what is best in America. Please do not allow anyone to silence you. We all need time to grieve, but I hope you will return.

anne said...

it's not everyone, and it's not even really 50%. (the whole popular vote vs electoral college thing), but I understand your sense of heartbreak, and of course, you need to decide what is next. meanwhile, those of us who are shocked by the election, because we apparently were too complacent, need to do more, to open the hearts and minds, to at least help shared humanity to be seen by all. take care! you are awesome, and you are loved, and you have truly helped with bridges. there is just more work to do! blessings

Susan Nilsson said...

This children's librarian ADORES you and your work. I've noticed all your books have been checked out from our library since your newest came out and I am so proud to share it with our small predominantly Latino/a community here in Watsonville, CA. Thank you for your beautiful writing and for sharing your wonderful spirit on your blog, your twitter and your TED talk. You are opening hearts and minds and the legacy of your work will continue to do so for years to come.

Susan Nilsson said...

This children's librarian ADORES you and your work. I've noticed all your books have been checked out from our library since your newest came out and I am so proud to share it with our small predominantly Latino/a community here in Watsonville, CA. Thank you for your beautiful writing and for sharing your wonderful spirit on your blog, your twitter and your TED talk. You are opening hearts and minds and the legacy of your work will continue to do so for years to come.

David Liebtag said...

Please be assured that not all Americans feel that way. I greatly admire people who have left their homes to join our country. In fact, I believe that most of them are probably our greatest Americans. Thank you for coming.

Cathy Lentes said...

Yes, it definitely is not the view of all Americans. This has to be a last stand for old hatred. The children coming up have a wider view of the world than their parents and grandparents. I have to believe in a brighter future for ALL. You do not grieve alone, Grace. I may not know your specific pain, but I have been in tears and disbelief for two days., and when I am strong enough again to function, to find the words, I will be a voice for you, and others. This too is America.

joyzmom said...

Dear Grace. Do not believe this country does not love you back. I have two daughters I brought here from China. I share their home culture with them. But there are Americans. I have taught them things about this country that my father taught me. THey appreciate their chinese culture but they know that we adopted them to give them the best life possible. I have been called "racist" for my vote. RACIST. It makes me so angry. Those girls are my life! Even if I didn't give them life.
The media propaganda would have you believe that Trump hates everyone who is not "AMERICAN", The media puts all these slurs out for you and your children to hear.. The media calls me a racist. WE have to start listening to EACH OTHER and not to what the media tells us about other people.
For years people like me have sat quietly. We didn't call names. We didn't protest. We talked things out in our homes. Not in the streets. We respected the man in the office. Even if we didn't like his policies. Honestly, even if we didn't like him. But because we got tired of people telling us what we cannot do, we finally came out of the shadows.
Please don't yourself or your family. If anyone would TRY to do something like that, people like ME would be the ones running in to stop them. Please give the people the credit they deserve. The politicians should work FOR ALL OF US. Not for THEMSELVES or people who give money to them. It's time to drain the sludge from the political pond.
Please take the time to find out who we are. We are not the people the media portrays us to be. I pray for you and your family to be safe and successful.

joyzmom said...

By the way, I began to follow you because my youngest daughter's name is Grace Li. And i LOVE your books.
Joyz mom in PA
mother of Joy Lin -14
And Grace Li -8
from Guangzhou and Guangxi

Robin said...

Dear Grace,
I read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon this summer and quickly became a huge fan of your books and art, checking out all the ones I could get my hands on at the library and then slowly adding them to our home library collection. I’ve been wanting to write a Thank You to you for some time, and it seems awkward now that I’m finally writing it as it’s mixed in with all this mess…

When I first heard the news yesterday, I was speechless. I moved through the emotions…disbelief, disappointment, confusion, anger, fear, frustration. I felt hopeless and alone. How did this happen? Where do I live? What kind of world am I bringing my kids into?
Perhaps I’m in a denial phase, but, I really see this man messing things up before they’ve even begun. That doesn’t change the fact that half the country who heard what he had to say as a nominee stood with him. It’s devastating. It’s incomprehensible.
So, what’s the silver lining? How do we wrap our heads around this? I’ve been racking my brain, trying to “Pollyanna” this thing the best I can. Here’s what I’ve got right now:
—This will pass (sooner than later, perhaps) and people will come through it more determined than ever to be educated in their votes, to know more about our democratic process, to learn how our government really works, and to recognize the importance of their voices being heard.
—This guy is holding up a huge, twisted, grotesque mirror of issues that do still exist—issues and concerns that people may like to think are no longer around. And even though it’s terrifying to see and hear some of it, he’s bringing all of it into the light. And, gosh darn, it’s time for this stuff to be dealt with.
—People may feel sad and angry and hopeless right now, but that will shift. There will be an outpouring of activism and love. Issues that were only vaguely on people’s radars are going to stand out, and people who used to sit things out are going to be propelled into action, doing the best they can to create the world they wish to see.

I’ve been doing the opposite of you and searching madly online for words or articles of comfort (It’s why I found this; I came to see how Grace Lin was taking it.) Here are some that have helped me…

“America didn’t stop being America last night and we didn’t stop being Americans and here’s the thing about Americans: Our darkest days have always—always—been followed by our finest hours.”

“You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.” ~Pat Schroeder

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” ~Jack Layton

“Don’t let the news of the world get you down…If you think you need LOVE right now, the truth is LOVE needs you…LOVe needs you to be your best, your brightest, your loudest, your most colorful…Don’t give up on equality. Don’t give up on justice. Don’t give up on the power and the beauty of diversity. Don’t give up on helping to relieve the suffering of others…Don’t give up on LOVE because it’s LOVE that has inspired all that is good in the world…” ~Michael Franti

You, Grace Lin, are part of the absolute good in the world. Your TED talk was incredible! Your books are beautiful and enjoyable and some of my favorites. (I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to read your novels and we can plan a Where the Mountain Meets the Moon party!) I marvel at your talent and your courage to follow your dreams. (And when I saw all the activities and recipes and crafts to go with your books, I knew you were truly someone awesomely special.) Thank you for all you do. Your work is so very important. Please know that. “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

rvilla said...

Dear Grace,
My 8 year old son and I love you and your family. We love your books. You belong and we all belong. We have read your toddler books, Year of the Dog and Rat together. I read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon myself and I can't wait to read it together with my son soon.
Look at this beautiful picture of Munro Leaf, author of the Story of Ferdinand, reading to children http://outlet.historicimages.com/products/dfpc15785?variant=11922838529. I keep of copy of it on my office wall. Think of all the conflicts that were going on in 1965, yet the joy on his face and the faces of the children. We need you more than ever! Thank you.

Jessica said...

Dear Grace,

I met you this summer at an author's institute at Worcester State University and had the chance to eat lunch with you! I was inspired by your talk that day and have since read your books with my daughter and try to incorporate more diversity into our reading selections on a daily basis.
I understand your need to take a break from all of this craziness, but please don't forget that there are so many of us who love you and everyone in this great melting pot of America. I second Robin's sentiments and hope that after you have the chance to grieve, you can try to look to the future. Have you ever read The Alchemist? There is a line in the book that talks about how things always get toughest before they get better, and that is how you know you are on the right track. Unfortunately, I think things in America have been bubbling under the surface for some time now. I'm hoping we can come out of this stronger, better, and more informed than before. Have you seen the safety pin hashtag on twitter? People are willing to fight for what is right. Please know that your work makes a difference.
Thank you.

Jennifer Panameno said...

I believe books, including your books, do change lives! Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is one of my favorite books ever and one that I have read multiple times (and I am rarely a rereader.) I am sorry you are heartbroken. Many of us are. Many Americans feel fear and despair.
While I believe that some voters were racially motivated, I don't believe that is true for most. I want to understand what motivates people and understand different perspectives so in the weeks leading up to the election, I started trying to really listen to others and find out why they were voting the way they were. I heard from people on all sides of the issue and most said that they didn't feel like either candidate represented them. It was a hard election. I truly believe that there are more good people than bad, that America is still great and that we can heal after this hurt. I believe if we listen to one another and try to understand different perspectives, then we will see that we have much in common. You add so much as you share your perspective. You are needed and your words do have an impact. So take a break for a bit from social media, grieve, and then continue writing. Continue sharing your wisdom and your words with the world. We need them.

john said...

Dear Grace
Your blog saddens me

My daughter is protesting in Seattle
I have a lot of new Asian friends one has just become a citizen and wants to play in the Olympics for America and not China

I am saddened for you

I am disappointed in the results of the election but feel he will be impeached by his own republican party quickly never never never give up

kindest regards, John

Unknown said...

I just read " When The Sea Turned to Silver", and by coincidence I found in it a powerful message about power hungry leaders who want to build walls. Don't forget the message in your own inspiring book... It helped me look for strength in small places, and remember that eventually selfish tyranny will self destruct. So don't give up-- especially not now. The glass in our country is slightly more than half full right now... Thank you for your book, and take as much time as you need for recovery, take comfort in your beautiful, happy child, and know that there are millions and millions of people who feel just like you do.
Take care,
Kate

Kat said...

Your WORK is so important and meaningful. America needs more authors and teachers and leaders who can open hearts and minds to things like you do. Thank you. I'm sorry there are people who voted for fear and hate; the rest of us will stand up for whats right.

Alice Taylor said...

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