A little over a year ago, I had one of the worst arguments I have ever had with my mother. It was late November and I had just revealed to her that I was among the thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets the night of November 10th to rally against Trump’s presidency. I had hoped that my political activism would be met with pride from my mother, who, 40 years prior, rushed the gates of the Presidential Palace after the people revolted against then President Ferdinand Marcos. Instead, I was faced with anger and the line I will never forget: “I did not send you to NYU to be a political activist.” At the time, I was hurt and confused that my mother was angry at me for doing something that I had thought was so right. I felt incredibly passionate about the issues I was marching for and saddened that so many young immigrants or children of immigrants, like myself, in America would grow up with a President who “hates them,” as said by a 4 year old child my friend babysits. I remember crying as I walked the streets, arms linked with my friends as we chanted “Donald Trump go away! Racist, sexist, anti-gay!” I was being an active citizen and expressing my grief at the state of my country, but also hoping that we, the people, could change it. It was my mother’s nonchalance, besides her anger, that hurt me; how could she be okay with someone like Trump as our president?

There are three explanations for my mother’s anger:

  1. She does not support Trump, but she just does not hate him as much as I do. In terms of political parties, my mom is neither red nor blue, but purple. While she recognizes Trump’s (many) flaws, she does agree with some of his agenda, namely the Republican agenda. In going to a political protest, I was becoming “too radical” and thus, in her eyes, nonsensical and too emotional. “Life moves on” as she told me.  

  2. After over 30 years in America, my mother still feels like an outsider. It’s not that my mother plays the role of the submissive, quiet Asian woman (trust me, no one would use the words submissive and quiet to describe my mother.) And she didn’t raise me to be this way either. But, she is wholly aware that we are still seen as outsiders and so feels like our voice is not as valued and that it is not her place to argue against the U.S. government.

  3. Finally, she feared for her daughter’s safety. My parents always treated my brother and I differently. For example, while growing up I couldn’t hang out alone with my male friends nor go to the city alone with a friend (a 50 minute drive from my house) up until I started college. Suddenly, her daughter was marching the streets unprotected where she could be arrested for civil disobedience or where violence could ensue.

The anti-Trump rally was my first protest. Despite my mother’s disapproval, I continued to attend rallies and protests for various issues throughout the year. I made sure she knew that I was going and that nothing she could say would stop me from doing what I thought was right. I also continued to discuss politics with my father and brother despite my mother’s desire to change the subject when we would disagree with each other.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and I was opening Facebook to post a photo of my friends holding the signs we made for March for Our Lives. Immediately, I was taken aback to find my mother had posted an image of the March for Our Lives photo on Facebook. The caption read “Proud of my kids.” I was so shocked I stopped walking. Did I really just receive a stamp of approval from my mother? Via Facebook?

I talked to my mom after the march and we learned three things:

  1. Gun control is not a radical notion perpetrated by liberals, but rather the logical solution to problem that crosses party lines.

  2. I was unyielding to her demands to stop protesting and rejected the notion of becoming the silent Asian woman Western culture had portrayed me to be, just as she had taught me through example.

  3. Finally, she realized that while there was a chance violence could ensue during a protest, there is an even greater chance that her daughter could be shot walking down the street, going to church, going to work, going to the movies, or even going to school.

Nicole AceroComment