by Rayna Mathis (Tagalog translation by April Jingco)
This is a speech I performed at Hing Hay Park for the #StopAsianHate rally organized by Seattle Rice Society on April 3, 2021. When asked to perform, I only had a few days to decide my direction, and once the anxiety settled, I realized that the only, genuine approach I could offer was to tell everyone about the person I love most in this world: my mom. We experience the world quite differently and even though we may not always understand the other’s experiences, I have never doubted for a second how much my mom and I love each other.
I have always been proud of my mother. At just 19, she followed her family across the ocean to come to the States, where she enjoyed a successful career, earned two degrees, raised four children, and now dotes on six grandchildren. She is the strongest and easily the funniest person I know. She can make anything out of scratch and to this day, still won’t even give ME her recipes. I fight her for them every few weeks. She is observant and calculated, brave and humble, and shows her love in food. When it was time for her to finally retire in this country, she knew it was time to travel back across those same waters that first brought her here, to return home. I have always wondered since she left, does she feel the time here was worth it all?
As anti-Asian hate crimes steadily rose at the beginning of the pandemic — and then when the shootings in Atlanta happened — I thought of my mother. I felt grateful that she was out of harm’s way away from the violence here, tucked away safely in the Philippines, but I missed her even more so in these moments. The 15-hour time difference meant constantly doing the math to figure out the best times to call each other. On top of that, the pandemic had separated us across two different continents for over a year now. And all I wanted was to lay across my mother’s lap again, falling into a food coma she put me in, only to wake up to her banging around pots in the kitchen already plotting the next meal.Continue reading OPINION: I Have Always Been Proud of My Mother