Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

  • Oh So Wild and Oh So Beautiful

    Date: 2018.12.27 | Category: The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    What’s it like to be seventy?  2018, for me, was a year of introspection.  Check out my thoughts on Midwest Mixed:

    https://www.midwestmixed.com/community/midwest-mixed-community-spotlight-sherry-quan-lee

     

  • LOVE IMAGINED: synopsis read at two Book Award Events

    Date: 2015.04.01 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED | Response: 0

    MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS

    THE LOFT LITERARY CENTER MARCH 20, 2015

    HOSMER LIBRARY MARCH 23, 2015 (36th and 4th Avenue

    by Richard Green School, previously Central High School)

    (Aunt Lucille Wilson Shivers lived on 39th and 4th Avenue.

    Her husband, Spencer Shiver, owned the barber shop on the corner of 38th and 4th Avenue.)

    Doll Buggy

    Once upon a very long time ago there was a princess, Quan Lee, born 1948. Her kingdom was a house on a hill with a white picket fence in South Scandinavian Minneapolis.

    She was Cinderella awaiting her prince. She loved her shoes. She sang to them. Hugged them.

    Maybe she knew that beauty was bound in binding a young girl’s feet; that somehow history had whispered to her it’s always about finding the prince, no matter how painful the journey, no matter how many pairs of shoes it would take.

    Has anyone seen Cinderella’s other shoe?

    Is there a lover in the audience?

    I grew up in South Scandinavian Minneapolis, the Miles Standish neighborhood. Beginning in the 1900s mostly Norwegians and Swedes settled there.

    However, my father is Chinese, my mother is Negro;

    I grew up passing for white.

    My friend Carolyn challenged me on the use of South Scandinavian Minneapolis.   Carolyn was right. She too grew up in South Minneapolis!   She went to Central High School. My cousin Butch went to Central High School. Carolyn had a crush on my cousin. My friend Carolyn, my cousin Butch, my aunt Marion-Black folk- lived in South Minneapolis with other Black folk, unlike me who lived east of whatever line divided us (the line might have been Chicago Avenue or 4th Avenue, or Portland Avenue).

    However, my mother’s relatives could only visit us at night,

    when it was dark and the neighbors couldn’t see them.

    Another frog and another frog. I could only imagine love because…do you remember the saying love sees no color? Well I bought those t-shirts, lots of them, until one day I realized the saying is a sham. Love does see color! If you don’t see me and understand and respect the color that I am, well then, you can’t possibly love me. I am not the white woman, the invisible woman, the exotic woman, the domestic you might need me to be—that my mother needed me to be to protect me and keep me safe.

    I didn’t know about the lack of civil rights: Jim Crow,

    the Klu Klux Klan, race riots in Minneapolis.

    I knew chow mein, white rice, and maj jong.

    I have four siblings.

    Between us there have been 14 divorces.

    Well, what do you know? I have the other shoe. It’s been hidden in my closet for 67 years. I am the prince I was searching for. I am the love imagined. The last therapist I needed to see explained to me that of course I didn’t have any self-esteem, any self-love! How could I love the person I was told wasn’t good enough to be visible—the Black/Chinese girl that had to pretend she was white

    Over the past thirty seven years I have written myself into existence with the help of communities and writers and friends. The Asian American Renaissance. David Mura. Marlina Gonzalez. Elsa Battica. Sun Yung Shin. Ed Bok Lee. Rose Chu. Sase the Write Place: Carolyn Holbrook and Carolyn Holbrook and Carolyn Holbrook. The Loft Literary Center: Bao Phi. Sherrie Fernandez-Williams. AND: Lori Young-Williams. Sandee Newbauer. Barb Bergeron.   Eden Torres. My cousin Jay, his daughter Terri and his wife Shirlee. And the list goes on and on.

    Of course, culturally, I was raised white: I grew up in a Scandinavian neighborhood, went to a white church, went to a white school/I had only white friends. I am learning to embrace being white too.

    With much appreciation, thanks to the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library!

  • Exerpts from LOVE IMAGINED

    Date: 2014.11.25 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED | Response: 0

  • NORTH MINNEAPOLIS from LOVE IMAGINED

    Date: 2013.09.23 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    Truly, I have been working on my book, and if I could just keep editing instead of stopping and starting overwhelmed by my own darn self at times, then maybe LOVE IMAGINED would be off to the publisher.  Actually, I can do this, it’s almost finished (I keep telling myself).  The problem now is the ending, currently I have three endings!  And formatting, I’m not sure where to add the historical facts, but I’m workin’ on it.

    It’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog entry, I didn’t recognize my own Web site.  I think a little gremlin has been lookin’ after it, re-organizing it, or else I’m just having too many senior moments, another reason to get this book done, who thought I would be old enough to be so forgetful, and memoir is about remembering and I don’t want to forget the stories of who I am because it’s been 65 years trying to make sense of myself!

    Here’s Chapter Two of LOVE IMAGINED.

    2.  NORTH MINNEAPOLIS

    Recently a friend challenged me about my use of the term South Scandinavian Minneapolis, where I grew up.  As a writer, I know it’s important to be specific.  Specifically, I grew up in a house on a hill on 26th Avenue and 39th Street, two blocks from Roosevelt High School.  My friend, Carolyn was right.  Carolyn lived in South Minneapolis too.  She went to Central High School.  My cousin went to Central High School. Carolyn had a crush on my cousin.  They lived in Minneapolis, but they lived with black folk, unlike me who lived East of whatever line divided us.  My aunt, my cousin’s mom, lived near 38th and Portland, this sometime after she and her family lived in the row houses in North Minneapolis, the ones just off of Olsen Highway, or was it Plymouth.  Another Aunt lived near 4th Avenue and Lake Street in South Minneapolis.  I didn’t know much about geography when I was little, but I did know my mother’s family could only visit at night, when it was dark, and our neighbors couldn’t see them.

    Aunt Grace lived in North Minneapolis.  She moved from a Duplex on Emerson Avenue North, though I don’t know how I know this, and maybe I’m wrong, but I remember going there once as a very small child. This is where Grandma also lived.  It must have been sometime after Grandma died of rat poisoning or Draino when the cancer was more painful than she could bear.  Aunt Grace and her family moved further west, trespassing into the Jewish neighborhood, 16th and Vincent. Avenue North.  Streets and Avenues don’t change, but people coming and going do.  I remember we visited Aunt Grace, my mom, my sisters and I, taking a bus down Broadway, stopping to shop at the junk stores, then walking to the most beautiful home I had ever seen.  At least I remember doing this once.  But when I turned eighteen, I let the secret out of the closet, though I don’t know how I knew my mother was passing for white and we, the children were supposed to be white or at least be Chinese like my father, but he disappeared when I was five.  I did my best and continue to integrate myself into a family I had been segregated from for way too many years.

    My Aunt Grace, my Aunt Marion, and my mother have now passed away.  I love them all dearly, they are angels on my shoulder.  Wherever I live, and I’ve lived in more than 50 different homes, and five different states, but they are always with me.  Recently I bought a home in Oakdale, Minnesota.  The 2000 census said Oakdale is mostly white, but it’s not anymore.  My women friends have visited me, Asian, Mexican, Black, straight, gay.  My cousin has visited, in fact I have a cousin that lives just next door in Woodbury, as well as my sister.  No one has to visit at night.  I welcome the next census when I can add one more person of color to a neighborhood that was once mostly white.  My friend Lori laughs because she remembers being the only black student, well she and her siblings, at Tartan High School, just down the street from where I now live.   She says where I live used to be farmland.

    NOTE:  By 1880, there were 362 Blacks in Minneapolis, and by 1930 the Black population numbered 4,176. The Black community tended to concentrate in two areas–on the near north side of the city and on the south side near Fourth Avenue South and 38th Street.

    … By one estimate, there were as many as 10 active Ku Klux Klan chapters in Minneapolis in 1923. Their attacks were broadly focused on nonwhites, socialists, Jews, Catholics, and the new Communist threat.

    …Minneapolis later elected a Jewish mayor, Arthur Naftalin, in 1961.

    http://www.hclib.org/pub/search/specialcollections/mplshistory/?id=26

     

     

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.

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SHERRY QUAN LEE

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HOW DARE WE! WRITE

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