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Being Asian During Asian Heritage Month

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

For those of us raised in Canada, we may have a more complicated relationship to our culture. I mean, my newsletter is called “Not Asian Enough.” Enough said.

So how do we celebrate our cultural/ethnic identity, when we don’t feel completely “competent” with our culture?

Well, there’s really no “right way” to practice a culture. Every individual (including our parents) will decide which customs, ideas and values of the culture to uphold at different moments.

Some of us may have mixed heritage, and grew up with multiple cultures and ethnic identities. And for us who grew up in Canada, there’s the added complexity of “Canadian culture” and white supremacy.

So clearly, you’ve had life experiences that is unique to you. And for Asian Heritage Month, you can embrace your uniqueness, as part of the celebration of your Asian heritage.

And to be clear, the category of “Asian” is steeped in a racist history that homogenizes the entire Asian diaspora. The on-going anti-Asian racism within the context of white supremacy affects the way we practice our culture as immigrants in Canada. And I’ll use myself as an example.

This photo was taken back in 2018. I wore my traditional clothing to work. And it was a long journey to get to this point. I had to deal with a lot of my own internalized racism, to feel comfortable to wear this to work.

It seems like a simple act, but it was a culmination of a lot of healing and re-learning, for me to finally stand in my own power, and embrace my own cultural identity in a way that felt authentic to me.

Like many of you, I grew up being very aware that I have to monitor how "Asian" I can be, so I don't draw the ire of the implicitly (and explicitly) racist.

But then, I also have to toe the damn line of not being the token Asian. And also, being told I'm not Asian enough. We can't win!

So, in celebration of Asian Heritage Month, I want to suggest that...we just be ourselves. Embrace your uniqueness. Throw all those expectations out the window of what being an Asian means. And just be yourself.

Journal and reflection prompts:

What are some things that makes you proud to be your ethnic identity/identities (Thai, Japanese, Tibetan, etc.)?

What are some things that makes you proud to be Asian?

Are there Asian figures in your life who you want to celebrate?

As always, thanks for tuning in. If you found this helpful, get my free Asian Survival Guide.

Ready to change your life? Schedule a free consultation and let's get started!

Harry Au

Therapy for Asians

MSW, RSW | he/him

I help Asians go from feeling trapped to becoming self-liberated.

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