To be fair, I do not know how I should begin. I suppose I could start with the basics and work my way around that. It is a tightly wound spring, but I might be able to loosen it.
For the longest time, I hated my name. Casia is not the easiest name to pronounce. At least not the way my family and I say it. I didn’t stop hating it until I was eighteen. Turns out, it costs money to change a name and I didn’t know of a different one that would fit me. Besides, Casia is a family name and I value my family. No, I eventually decided to love the name that came from a culture I know very little about.
For the next decade, I fought a new problem: should I learn more about being Filipino?
Cultural appropriation was a hot topic back then and I don’t necessarily look like I’m part of the AAPI community. And yet, I am.
Essentially, I was . . . and still am at times . . . afraid that someone would look at me researching, experiencing, and being Filipino as cultural appropriation. It is a real fear. I want to become more well-known as an author and that would put me in the public eye. The idea that I am pretending or mocking a culture that, by blood, I am a part of scares me.
I do not know if other mixed children felt this hunger to learn everything about every culture, but I do.
Last year, around this time, someone I held dear in my heart wrote the words “White lives matter” on their Facebook wall. I cannot say what their intention was by those words and I will not label them. You may do as you wish. What I can say was I had a visceral reaction to them. It was as if a part of me was denied and pulled away.
For other reasons I will not divulge, it was very close to being the final straw. For the longest time before 2020, I had slowly begun to lose myself. Those words, from that person, took away a huge chunk of me and threw it away. It was the beginning of the end of a past me and the rebirth of who I really am.
To make this story short, I am going to embrace all of me. I am not going to fear strangers’ thoughts and sharp words. I am going to learn my hidden culture, embrace all of me, and become the woman I am meant to be.
May is AAPI month. To celebrate me, I am going to begin my journey. I encourage you to read outside your culture and to celebrate others. Read a book written or about Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, eat the food, and learn something.
For me, I’m not going to stop when May ends, but I am starting. If you want to read what I am reading, check out my list.
- Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings From the Philippine Ancestral Traditions by Virgil Mayor Apostol
- Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino-/American Postcolonial Psychology (with commentaries) by E.J.R. David
- Philippine Demonological Legends and Their Cultural Bearings (Realms of Myths and Realities) by Maximo D. Ramos
- Supreme Court of the State of California, Solvador Roldan v. Los Angeles County – A court case between California and a family member