Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Thoughts on being an Asian American woman writer

This is excerpted from the Women's Work as Artists and Writers blog, where you can read essays from many other women. You can buy the book "The Lemon Tree" edited by Nitza Agam with the entire essay and the works of other women writers and artists at my favorite independent bookstore in San Carlos, CA (they ship worldwide)

Great grandma Wong, my mother Nancy Wong Chin-Lee, and the author

1934, Baltimore, MD


Someone was knocking on the door. 


Then seven years old, Nancy was folding clean diapers for her mother, but her father grabbed her arm and shoved her into the closet. Her father warned,“Get in there and be quiet!” 


He then calmly proceeded to open the front door and chat with the local truant officer. The officer’s eyes narrowed as he said, “We heard you have a school-age child? She should be attending school. That’s the law.” Nancy’s father invited the officer to look around the house. Only small children were playing in the backyard, all too young to go to school.


While Nancy should have been going to school, she was held back so she could help take care of her younger siblings. She was not allowed to attend school until her brother, a year and a half younger, was old enough to go to school. By that time, it would be useful to have her walk with him as her parents cared about educating him, but not her.


Nancy was my mother, a talented visual artist and a wonderful storyteller. 


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