homebase-shawn wong

“It is no accident that my first three books were published by African American publishers. They were the first to recognize the legitimacy of Asian American literature.” (xvii)

“These guys were Chinese and I knew then I wasn’t one of them. It didn’t bother me when I was a kid and the other kids called me Chinese, but occasionally I was called a Chinaman. The way they said it I knew they knew something I didn’t know. The Chinaman was something right out of science fiction for me. When you called someone a Chinaman it didn’t mean Chinese. It was a mutant name dragged up out of America’s need to name names. When the Chinese came here they were no longer just Chinese because they threatened the white labor force, a way of life. They wanted something out of America, a way of life of their own. A “Chinaman” threatened history, culture, and language the way a “Jap” loosed chaos on the world. Being Chinese meant you kept to your history, your culture, your language from a country you’ve never been to. In the dream about me, I know my name.” (69)

“that’s why the raw don’t know your name, like Alicia Keys”


2 thoughts on “homebase-shawn wong

  1. making the song cry:

    “My father will always stay the same in that picture. April, 1945. And when I am twenty-eight we will be the same age. It is dangerous to honor your father. It is hard to really love your father. It is easy to respect him. When you are the same age, or even when you grow older than your father, like growing taller than him, your love changes to honor because you yourself would like to be honored. I must simply love him. When a son takes a risk of love, he naturally loves his father. He commits himself to his father. It is a dangerous risk.” (7)

    “I was left a father to myself after my father’s death. When a son or daughter dies, the parents have another or adopt another child to raise and love. When a family loses a beloved dog, they go out and buy another quickly before the self-pity replaces that life. When a father dies, there is only violence. I am violent. I commit myself to love, saying it is there, but never going further to grasp loving. My real life eludes action. It leaves me a father to myself.
    My mother died eight years after my father and it was then that I realized I was my great-grandfather’s son and I knew why the label of orphan meant nothing to me. My great-grandfather had begun a tradition of orphaned men in this country and now I realized I was the direct descendant of that original fatherless and motherless immigrant. Now there was a direct line from the first generation to the fourth generation. I was not hampered by the knowledge of China as home.” (8-9)

    “And it was my resolve not to cry anymore that always drove me to my mother to comfort her in her grief. Her grief became my duty. I watched her tears fall to the pillow, asking her not to cry, impatient, knowing that all her strength was leaving her, and somehow I thought if I put my mouth to her tear-stained pillow and sucked the tears from the white case, her energy would pass to me in the warm salt of those tears. And when she died I was mad that she had failed me. She had no longer wanted to stand by my side. After my mother died I was alone, but I did not cry.” (40)

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