Forging an Identity as an Asian American Woman

Forging an Identity as an Asian American Woman

Nancy Blair

May is a month where there is an intersection of several key dates for me: my birthday, Mother’s Day, and Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander heritage month. These days and remembrances are representations of my identity:  a full-grown Asian American mother.  

Like turning a gem, my identity’s facets shine uniquely and taken as a whole: it’s an object that was forged with time and tension. Growing up as “other” means, at best, you don’t see yourself in the media or positions of power; at worst you’re told to go back to your country even though you were born here.  

As a mother, I think of how far my own came.  Fleeing her country on a boat with one suitcase of clothes for her, my dad and my brother, she started over in a foreign land. The only way to survive as a refugee in the 1970s was to put your head down, don’t say a word and work hard.  Of all those strategies, I agree with only the latter. 

Embracing Identity with Style

Confidence in who I am is fundamental to how I show up in the world.  It may seem frivolous to care about what I wear, especially when many lack basic needs in this world.  But when I want to be seen and listened to – to pave the way for even one person to follow - a well-tailored suit or fitted dress is my accomplice.  When I wrap my arms around my little ones, only a soft cotton sweater will do.  A shirt that supports an important humanitarian cause is a way to say much without saying a word. 

As we close out AANHPI heritage month, remember to celebrate your identity and all the ways it comes to life.  May you shine brightly like a beacon to light the way for others to join you.

Nancy Blair is a marketing professional, wife and mother.  She is the daughter of refugee immigrants who left Vietnam days before the Fall of Saigon.  As a first generation Asian American, she has had to balance being a member of multiple communities. Because of this, Nancy is an avid volunteer for organizations that serve the needs of underserved children and women.

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