Firstly, let me start by saying how deeply sorry I am. I’m sorry for having turned my back on you for all my life. I’m sorry for never investing myself into fully learning our language. I’m sorry for disregarding age old traditions. I’m sorry for hating the roundness of my nose, the darkness of my eyes, and the lack of curves in my body. I’m sorry for all the moments where I felt shame around my racial and cultural heritage—all the moments where I wished I was born into another family, with golden hair and fair skin and a tall nose and blue eyes. I’m sorry for taking on another culture so wholeheartedly while feeling alienated from our own. I’m sorry for feeling less than for simply being Chinese, for allowing others to perpetuate this same belief onto me and for perpetuating this belief onto others. I’m sorry for all the times when I endured moments of other people’s ignorance or discrimination and I didn’t believe I had the power of 5000 years of history behind me to speak up and speak back. I’m sorry for succumbing to the beliefs of systemic oppression in my own home city and believing myself to be better than simply because I could speak English fluently, received a western education, and have a “western mind.” I’m sorry for severing myself from my roots, and essentially, severing myself from you.
I know nothing about you. I don’t know your names, what you looked like, what your lives were like, what joys you experienced or what tragedies you suffered, but I wish to learn. I wish to know you and your stories, and to heal the chasm that’s cracked open between me and you. I also wish to share who I am, who I’m becoming, the world in which I live, and the world which I hope to create. I know we come from completely different worlds, and we may not always see eye to eye, and that’s ok. but from now on, I promise to honour you, to work with you, and to be proud of you. because I know I stand on the shoulders of hard work, and heartbreak, and pain, and I also know that I stand on the shoulders of joy, and hope, and courage. I know that there is an immense wisdom that lives in your hearts and souls, a wisdom that has been lost but that I am willing to receive. And I am so grateful to you, my beloved ancestors, for all the sacrifices and all the choices that you’ve made, that I know were driven by the deep desire to want to give a better life to your 下一代, to me. And I want to tell you that your sacrifices have not been in vain, because we live a beautiful, abundant life now here in 2021. I wish to share the new reality that I now live in and the new perspectives that I’ve cultivated that can heal the wounds shouldered by many of you—wounds that I hope you no longer see the need to bear. I wish to share that we no longer need to toil and suffer and work harder than anyone else in order to sow and reap seeds that bear fruit. I wish to let you know that honour shall be shone upon us when we allow ourselves to honour our truest authentic selves first, and bring our exquisite uniqueness and greatest gifts to light. I wish to share that we no longer need to carry the burdens of shame, lack, fear, control, or suffering. and that true liberation comes from within.
Dear beloved Ancestors, I vow to no longer turn my back on you. and now I see that by turning my back on you I only turn my back on myself. I see that by not knowing or honouring where I’ve come from, I cannot clearly know where I am going. Because a tree cannot grow without roots. And I am ready to reconnect with my roots.
Thank you dear Ancestors.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
FOLLOW MY JOURNEY @JANITHCHANG
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