January 29, 2011
I Was Born With Two Tongues – Mother.
Amid it all, two figures ever stand to typify that day to coming ages,—the one, a gray-haired gentleman […] and the other, a form hovering dark and mother-like, her awful face black with the mists of centuries, had aforetime quailed at that white master’s command, had bent in love over the cradles of his songs and daughters, and closed in death the sunken eyes of his wife,—aye, too, at his behest had laid herself low to his lust, and borne a tawny man-child to the world, only to see her dark boy’s limbs scattered to the winds by midnight marauders riding after “cursed Niggers.”
– W.E.B. Du Bois; The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
I am always moved by this piece. I am moved because I am reminded of the history and trek which brought my mother and father here. I am reminded why my mother’s story is stitched into my head to never forget lost memory.
I first heard this piece when I was in highschool, when a teacher (Janet Stickmon) handed me my very own copy of I Was Born With 2 Tongues’ “Broken Speak.” I never really understood this track’s context or its importance until I re-listened to it during my second year in graduate school. It’s actually funny how ambivalent and how incoherant I was to its significance and relatability to my mother’s own journey. However, on coming back to “Mother,” I rediscovered its beauty and vision, and would like nothing but to share it with you. This post and love letter is to every Asian and Asian/American mother who made the journey here. Additionally, this post is also for every Asian/American child who may have forgetten the journey and stumbles which brought them here. Cheers to the journey, and cheers to the path which carves out our future. Be brilliant.