When I was growing up, I choose to be Americanized after rebelling against my strict father. At a family dinner one day, we sat down and my father scolded me about something (I forgot how that quarrel started to be honest), and so to hurt him, I told my father that I'm an American as to denounce his efforts to influence me to be more Khmer than American, he had yelled at me and said, "Snak cheam koun chee Khmer, kom pleat!" (My child, you're flesh and blood is Khmer, don't forget (who you are and you're ancestors)!" Ever since that incident, both my parents never had Khmer style family dinners together.
Looking back and hating that I was raised up Khmer by my father, I truly regret what I said because at that point, my father did give up on raising me to uphold the Khmer culture. I wished that I took more time understanding why he wanted us to be raised more Cambodian above all else than ignoring every Khmer value, principle, tradition, cultural and historical teachings that he was trying to impose on us. However, partial to why I was so rebellious where also the machoistic way that my father was brought up and how he failed to execute those teachings. I felt, if he was less militant and more gentler or kind, then I would be more receptive to learn how to be Khmer.
So my father is dying and he has very little time on Earth, he's my only direct lineage and connection to the footholds of his motherland, Cambodia. My mother told me to forgive and that it's not a good time for me to cut those ties with him. So I won't. And above all, I want to honor my father's heritage. He's right all along. Cambodia (Kampuchea) and the Angkorean Empire is a rich and superior culture that the rest of the world knows very little about.
I'll be honest. Everyone knows where and what Japan/Japanese person is. Everyone knows where and what France/French person is. Do a lot of people, old and new generation here in America or anywhere else know where and what Cambodia/Cambodian person is? Nope! We're often mistaken for other ethnic cultures. Our cousin, the Thai's, are not even close, even though we share the same origins rooting back to Indianization. My father knew this and I'm sure he wanted us to be proud and to be visible and to represent and to keep the Khmer culture, history, traditions, language, and life alive because Cambodia is such a tragedy. The Kingdom of Kampuchea was a fallen Angkorean Empire through draught, war, and constant invasions. Perhaps, being transgender kept me from fully understanding the tragedies of Cambodia, the recent history of Cambodia was so tragic that learning about it was like a double edge sword for me growing up and already so wounded by the cruel people of the world. The Khmer Rouge regime was evil, inhumane, and cruel.
The reason why my father was so proud to be Khmer is due to the fact that Cambodia's rich culture, traditions, and it's ancient prehistoric history predates way back before the time of Jesus Christ and Buddha, with it's Lemurian origins. The Khmer Empire was built upon sacred sankrit texts brought by the 'krus' from India, which its continents were also of Lemurian land. No where else in the world could declare the majesty that is Cambodia, the sacred temples that my ancestors have built for us so we don't forget who we are, where we come from, and the majesty of the land. Let's not forget, our true ethnic origins indeed originate from India. That's right! We were Indianized since the beginning before we were colonized by the French. Before we were even Khmers, we were the Angkorean people ruled by Angkor kings, the capital city then was known as Angkar, before it was renamed to current day Phnom Pehn. Our root race were the Kambuja, a tribe. The Khmers were born from Princess Soma, the Naga King's daughter, and a an Indian priest, Prince Kaudinya I. Cambodia is called Kampuchea in Khmer. Before those terms, we were the Kambuja of the Angkorean Empire. The word "raja" was often used, "raja" means, "God King" in Indian sanskrit to describe former Khmer Kings that ruled ancient Angkor.
Below is an animated story of the Angkorean Empire and it's root during the time of Preah Sumer (Ancient Sumer) of which Angkor Wat was built based on Mount Meru aka Mount Sinai or Sumer.
The Great Khmer Empire - Khmer Original Audio
The Great Khmer Empire - English Dubbing
I have come to realized, now that I'm of mature age, how depressing I actually was being an Asian-American. Let's be real here. I had to fight being a triple minority. Other Americans would tell my parents or me to go back to my own country even though I was born and raised here in America. I've had Karens of all other colors and non-colors be so absolutely racist, thanks to the pandemic, and the uptick in hate crimes against Asians Pacific Islanders, that it made me realize that America is the shittiest country. How can I be a proud American? Look at our governmental system, homelessness, hate crimes, drugs, healthcare system, mental health, stress, stress, stress, etc. and the list goes on. America compared to other countries has losts its way. To my dear parents, being told to go to America and to live or pursue the American dream was a LIE! I feel that Americans who tell me that it's my parents fault for not trying hard enough to pursue the American dream, well, I tell you, seeing how America has raised its American children, there is no culture, no sense of value, principle, or any tradition that stands.
You have American kids going to strip clubs, shooting up schools, doing anything and everything that makes them dumber and dumber. Most Americans are also so entitled, it's ridiculous! No one says, "Please." "Thank you." "You're welcome." "Excuse me." All or any sense of niceties or manners, non-existent! I recently dealt with a Karen neighbor who heard me speaking in my native languages, that is Cambodian and French, she came over to our yard and start yelling at me, "No! You CAN'T SPEAK FRENCH, you don't look FRENCH, you are NOT FRENCH!" I mean, we were completely minding our own business, on our own property, and she trespassed us. My friend who's darker skin Khmer, he gets mistaken for black, begun to speak to me in Khmer, she snaps at him, got in his personal space, and screamed at him, "SPEAK ENGLISH NEGRO! (MIMICS FOREIGN NOISES.)" And she was being completely racists. I've never seen anything like this in person.
You know what the sadder part was, she was Phillipino-Caucasion mixed American, however, totally Americanized and she was white-presenting so she had her privilege. This was how I knew that America has losts its fucking values and how much I hated being Asian-American or just living in America. Land of the free? No, not really. There are the privilege and the under-privilege.
We called the cops and she was playing the victim like all Karens do but don't fret, we got it all on camera because I was filming our Khmer New Year BBQ get together up in Antioch this past weekend. The other thing was, she wasn't even a resident next door, and was visiting her friend's home which were owned by white people.
None of my family members, my friends, etc. are racist. We don't care if you are white, black, or a person of color. Anyone can be and act like a Karen. My point is, I'm so disappointed that there are Karens like this that represents America, American people, etc. It makes other respectable Americans look bad. The problem that I do have with America, is not only with the racists Americans or the Karens of America but the the American system. You can't sit there and tell me that America treats its people well. The statistics weigh that America is the number ONE that lacks free healthcare for their people (so many Americans are in medical debt, with me being one of them), lacks any solution to homelessness or drugs, lacks proper educational and fundamental academics or skills that prepares children for the real world not teach bullshit or have bullshit members in the Board of Education that don't care, and is solely based on capitalistic corporate power and greed. Sure. It's built on a democracy but can you have true democracy where oppression against Black Lives or hate against Asian Pacific Islanders, or basically against people of color exist? All of these things only exist in America, and United States of America has become like a third world country where all other Americans look forward to is just surviving but you're not truly living.
I can speak whatever language that I want, I mean this is America, land of the free right? Is this wrong for me to speak French, being a quarter French? Also, what does a French person supposed to look like? And if you are describing a French person to me, how prejudice are you? What would you call a Chinese person born and raised in France and raised as a French person with a French accent? They are French, regardless of what label a prejudiced person wants to make about their Chinese features, they are French, born and raised! I mean you wouldn't yell at this French guy to stop speaking fluent Mandarin. Just as you wouldn't yell at a Chinese person to stop speaking fluent French!
I hadn't realized how much my father had struggled raising us or how stressed he must had been on top of trying to heal from the horrors of the Cambodian Genocide while he was raising us. Why did he drank so much? Why did he got violent with us? It was because the Khmer Rouge truly fucked him up and how lonely it must have been in his skin to have to go through that while dealing with his children in America, not honoring his Khmer ways while missing the hell out of his home country and deceased loved ones executed by the Khmer Rouge. Not to mention, how strong he HAD to be and why all of those things made both, his mind and heart become so rock hard on all of us.
However, with that being said, in its context and perspective alone, I realized my father and I have a lot more in common. We both endure and face our own personal nightmares. His trauma from the Khmer Rouge in counter retrospect to my trauma growing up as a trans child. That our inner and outer human experiences, the anger, the frustration, the persistency, the will to survive through the barriers around us was what made us both strong while we also bump heads, not understanding each other, but in the end, finding forgiveness and peace from it.
We tend to listen more to my mother more than my father which was oddly strange. For example, if my father told us to do something, we would hate to adhere to it in fear of being punished but if my mother persuaded us to do something, we would oblige knowing it was fundamental. I learned that both my parents had two polar opposites of raising us and I may have said this before but my mother is the water to the flames of my fathers hot-headed short-temper tantrums.
My mother was always more kind through her Japanese demeanor. She's the calm to my father's nightmares and storms. She loves Cambodia, the culture, the history, the traditions, etc. She loved it more over her Japanese side but she did try to preserve her Japanese heritage in her own discreet ways, mostly in her cooking which pissed my father off. You're not supposed to put "kamaboko" in Cambodian noodles but mom did it anyway for my dad who wasn't familiar with "kamaboko" (lol).
However, she expressed to me once, that she felt Japan was an already successful country and that everyone knew about Japan but not about Cambodia, how she loved the temples in Cambodia, and the seasons. I hadn't known what she meant but I understand now, that she loved the Spring and Autumn Equinox of Angkor Wat, this was the seasons that she was saying in Khmer but didn't know how to translate it to us. She had said, "Japan is great but nothing is greater than seeing the sunrise to the peak of Angkor Wat in Cambodia..."
Now that my parents are older, all of us (his kids) are all adults. My mother can freely express herself so we're still learning new things and information about both of my parents, who they are as people, where they come from, how they had lived, who their ancestors are and their relations, etc.
This leads me to regretting being so Americanized and neglecting my ethnic origins while allowing ignorant Americans to bash on my own cultures and their hatred or jealousy towards my father's once successful restaurant on Mission Street and Valencia lead to its downfall.
Here is a video of a fellow American who moved out of America and his perspective on America. He explains all the feelings that I have been getting a bit better. I agree with him.
The lesson here is, if things have nothing to do with you directly, leave other people alone! There are so many different people in the world. The people who are different and visit or live in either a homogenous country that are ignorant to those who are different from them are to be frowned upon. Those who want to come to America and live the American dream, I tell you, stay where you are or choose Canada or anywhere else but America. Unless you are entitled, priveleged, or have others to hand it down to you, and have a strong support system, you will spend most of your life slaving yourself to a dream that was a lie and end up being homeless unless you have the grit to survive in this culture shock country.
For all those Karens who had either once told my parents and me to go back to my own country, I'll tell you in turn, "Absolutely would love to return to the motherland of my ancestors. Now run me my fucking one-way ticket bitch!" Hey, I've dealt with assholes most of my life. I think it's my turn to be an asshole for once.
Anyway, I'm planning to leave America when I hit 45. I'm moving to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia in 2029 indefinitely. I decided that if I do die, I don't want to die in America, I want to die and be buried in my father's homeland and be buried in the soil of my ancestors. If I prematurely happen to die in America, I swear to all the Gods, I'm haunting America (lol) because I've been nothing but unhappy growing up in America, this is the truth, 80% of my memories are depressing here which is why I choose to be a positive/happy person everyday and keep away from negative/unhappy people. 90% of my life has been dark and depressing, both at home and the outside world.
When people are kind to me or accept me for who I truly am, it's new to me, even now. Another thing, growing up, asking for anything is a struggle. I've never been raised on how to ask for anything (for help) in any way because my father would punish us when we ask for anything from him, we were left to figure most things out for ourselves and I would become a nervous wreck, as a child and even now as an adult. I'm also an introvert. At one point in my young adult life, I was reclused, my routine was go to work and go home, be alone, and cut everyone out. I had done so out of hurt and pain but I've learned to manage the hurt and painful memories of the past. I learned, I wasn't at fault. I shouldn't punish myself anymore.
For now, I'll be making yearly trips to Cambodia to reconnaissance, find a suitable place to reside, connect with my father's side of the family, and get more familiar with my home country. What career do I want in Cambodia? What impact do I want to make for my home country? What can I take from America into Cambodia? How can I leave in imprint in America and my home country?
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Kaneda Yoshida (male pronouns: he/him/his) is a transgender activist, advocate, a trans brother to the Transgender Community and a fierce protector of trans youth. He is the original non-profit founder/leader of the Trans-Cis Alliance Coalition Organization (T.C.A.C, pronounced Tee-Kah). He actively and closely works with other LGBTQIA+ entities to bring about inclusion, intersectionality, diversity, justice, and equality for both the sex and gender diverse communities by campaigning, petitioning, and lobbying for individuals who face discrimination in schooling systems and in the workplace, rejection and abuse at home, as well as hate and violence in public spaces against LGBTQIA+ individuals. He has lobbied against anti-trans politicians, as well as capital institutions within the military, law enforcement, and city council government systems as well as took a stand against any entities that targets the health, livelihood, and well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals.