Growing up mixed-race in a Vietnamese refugee family in Los Angeles in the era of "Vietnam" = Vietnam War, the legacies of the war, imperialism, colonialism shaped my world...at the same time that I lived with 3 generations of my Viet family in a Viet enclave around our Buddhist center, spoke Viet as my first language, sang in Viet community celebrations, thought of myself as Viet - I was questioned all around, carried the stigma of American GIs and Viet prostitutes, the weight of a lost war and a disappeared homeland,
of resentment and trauma, of being neither here nor there, this nor that, never enough, never fully seen.
It is difficult deeply loving something that won’t or can’t fully love you back.
There is a great pain in knowing and loving and being of a people who don't claim you as their own.
The pain and love infuse to create a constant and deep ache that leaves you in limbo
seeing from within, seeing from the outside, forced to make my own way and my own place with my people always in my heart.
Elwing Suong Gonzalez is an artist, educator, and historian who researches and writes about refugee and immigrant settlement in Los Angeles. Visit her instagram @ elwingbling