Jasmyn Choi ’22 vividly recalls when her Korean-born mother was pulled over by police in Los Angeles 12 years ago. Rather than speaking to the driver, who had broken English, the officer leaned into the vehicle to question 8-year-old Jasmyn instead. Jasmyn, after all, had “perfect” English.
“I’ve always dealt with the particular trauma of strangers diminishing my mother’s intelligence because of her accent,” Choi recalls. “I tremble in anger thinking of the times she’s had her voice stolen from her. We both sat in the car in oppressive silence, yet it was comforting because silence is all we have been trained to know.”
Growing up in a white flight suburb, Choi grew accustomed to overt and covert racism, and most recently, tried to comfort her mother’s insecurities about not feeling safe due to comments made about the “Chinese virus.” As Asian women, Choi says, “the depth of our pain is an immense chasm from which to fall deeper and deeper into. We are trapped in the eternal, isolating birdcage of ourselves.”