Fortune cookie.

They tried to teach us. They put their words into every bag, inside every fortune cookie. You ordered the meal and the cookie came along with. Maybe you opened the cookie. Maybe you read the fortune. And just maybe, if you were lucky, you had the insight to turn it over. It was right there, on the back. A word, in Chinese, with the translation. Collect enough and you had a sort of makeshift dictionary. You got fed in body and mind that way.

They had given us a chance, but so many of us ignored it, or overlooked it. So many of us did that all the time anyway, with everything. But not anymore. No longer do we have a luxury of being the Masters of our own destiny. No longer do we have the luxury of ignoring the signs that had been around us all these many years. For now, we are the minority. Now, we are the ones who have to meekly ask if the shop owner speaks our language. Now we have to go to tiny shops and strip malls in questionable neighborhoods to find a box of Cap’n Crunch or Jif peanut butter. Because now we are all Chinese. Now, English is a second language for all of us, and hot dogs have been replaced by Hunan cuisine.

There wasn’t a war. It wasn’t sudden. But the invasion happened all the same. They were here all along, quietly working, quietly saving, quietly planning. Their strategy was so subtle, so long range, that we didn’t even notice it. We thought they were OK with a second or even third-class existence. It seemed like a good system for everyone. We let them live here, let them own property, let them open up shops. We thought their ways were exotic if we thought of them at all. We certainly didn’t think of them as a threat. Sure, they assimilated, flew under the radar. They changed their names that we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pronounce into ones like Jack, or Susie, or Joe. They put away their own clothes and adopted the anonymous uniform of America, all jeans and T-shirts, but never went so far as to debase themselves with sweatpants and singlets, not even in private. Even they would not stoop that low in playinf the game to fool us into not noticing them. Because that is what they were doing. They couldn’t change their skin or hair or eyes (though some did with lightening cream or bleach or even surgery to remove the epicanthic fold) so they blended in with all the other little ways that made us experience them as background noise. Hell, they could’ve been from Mars, looked like little green men as far as we’d pay attention if they only wore our costume and took our names. It was that lack of attention that was coming back to haunt us now.

(Written early July 2019)

Color lines

I think the problem a lot of white people have with immigrants in the US is that deep down, unconsciously, they are terrified that the immigrants will behave exactly as the white’s ancestors did and displace them. That it won’t be a melting pot of peaceful coexistence but a radical and forced overturning of power.

The whites moved to America for a better life, free from religious oppression, and ended up using their religion to oppress those people who were already living here. Deep down, those who are opposed to immigration are afraid that they will become the new Native Americans and will be force marched on a new Trail of Tears to new reservations. They know karma is a bitch.

This doesn’t have to be. We can live together and work well together, but it takes a lot of work.

together

(“Together” art journal piece I made 11/16/16 – cardstock, Distress inks and stains, stamp, gold pastel, scissors, weaving) I like making art that shows how different colors work against each other to show each other off to make each other be their brightest.

Keyframe

key1

What is it like to move to another country?
To leave everything you’ve ever known behind?
What if not only is it another country, but culture?
What if even the language is different?
How would you find your way?
How would you know when you have inadvertently stepped over a line?
As if land were suddenly water, or you must suddenly live in the sky.
Alienating. Fear. Excitement.
Like learning to walk again.
Is this what paraplegics do? Are they unexpectedly immigrants?

(detail)
key2
I found this slip as I was trading cars (always stressful) and while meditating on how I long for community but have a very hard time maintaining it. So many people have violated my trust. The idea of all my ancestors cheering me on came to me just shortly before I found this. It helped validate my message.

Here is the legend from a map used as part of this. I like these – you need a reference point to know what you are looking at.

key3

Here is the definition of the word –
Keyframe
n. a moment that seemed innocuous at the time but ended up marking a diversion into a strange new era of your life—set in motion not by a series of jolting epiphanies but by tiny imperceptible differences between one ordinary day and the next, until entire years of your memory can be compressed into a handful of indelible images—which prevents you from rewinding the past, but allows you to move forward without endless buffering.

Ingredients:
Strathmore visual journal
Glue stick
Magazine photos
Fortune cookie message
The distance key from a map

Created 3-2-16

The pictures were taken with my phone. Maybe I’ll remember to scan this and switch them out. This gives you an idea, at least.

(edit – here are the scanned, and thus brighter, images)
Keyframe A 030216

Keyframe A2 030216