Having witnessed the indecencies of our justice system and the insidious nature of power and patriarchy, I am part of the 74% of Americans who know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. I was about five or six years old the first time I witnessed intimate partner violence (IPV); my mother, at twenty-one, was gasping for air by the hands of a young man, likely no older than I am today. It is unfortunate, yet telling, that often times it is violence and power that give us our element of humanity. And although it is my first vivid memory, it was surely not the last. A number of broken bones and ribs, collapsed lungs and swollen features later, I found myself face to face in a number of hospital rooms with a resilient yet lost soul; a woman who had not yet found the resolve to transition from victim to survivor.
It was the winter before I started graduate school and I was in the first term of my pregnancy. Between waiting to hear back from prospective campuses and working a full time job that paid below a living wage, I was spent. Many women face this decision with fear of what others might think. This piece is my story about my journey to choice.
I could not arrive at a reasonable plan to make it through my first year of graduate school as a single mother. The programs I had applied to were full time, elitist and predominantly white. How would my classmates treat a single pregnant woman? Higher education already posed a series of ubiquitous challenges. Adding a newborn to the scenario was going to be exponentially trying. During my only ultrasound, I sang a childhood melody to my baby. After many tears, embraces, conversations and prayers, I decided to bid my farewell.
Reality turns to figments of imagination
lubricated through fabricated assimilation
so that public oppressions
are hid through third world dissections
two wrongs make a right
and as long as our morals are in sight
and religious sanctions are tight,
the pains of a people from clashing nations
become rights of passage and nationalistic sensations
Freedom Spoken Word
For as long as I've remembered, my grandfather has played the starring role in all of my father's stories. Dad will always, to this day, proudly describe my grandfather to me and my little brother as a bold, patriotic, and dashingly handsome young man, a perfect specimen of Korean manhood who will risk everything to protect his loved ones.
Once, for an elementary school assignment on illustrating our heritages, I drew my grandfather as a raven-haired, smiling stick figure holding the Korean flag. When we presented our drawings, I proudly retold my father's stories about my perfect, adventurous grandfather, embellishing details until my fellow classmates' eyes bulged in awe or narrowed in disbelief. My grandpa, I thought, was the most accomplished, caring, hard-working, and loving person in the entire world.