I’m Proud of my Parents’ Accents- and you should be too

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

When I was younger, my parents often told me stories about their life journey. Sometimes these stories came up when they were scolding my sisters and I, saying that they used to dodge bombs while walking to school, and that I have it good to be living here, and sometimes it was a chance for my parents to teach us where our true roots came from.

My parents left their hometown of Hai Phong, Vietnam with my newborn sister during the post-war era. Things looked shaky in terms of economic stability, and there were rumors of western countries filled with opportunity for new beginnings and creating a life for oneself. One day, they snuck onto a cargo ship filled packed to the rim with other people fleeing Vietnam. After grueling days at sea, they finally landed in Hong Kong and settled in a refugee camp, where my other older sister, Linda, was born. From there, they went to another refugee camp in the Philippines, and when Canadian officials visited the camp, my mom decked my sisters out in Canadian gear, giving them the chance to apply and get accepted to immigrate to Canada. This entire journey, which this paragraph truly does not do justice to, took around 6 years. These 6 years were filled with uncertainty, isolation from family, nostalgia, and heart-break, as my parents made sacrifice after sacrifice, missing out on integral family events back in Vietnam because they wanted so badly to provide a fruitful life for my sisters and I.

26108237_10155987769441449_1602738974_o.jpg

My sisters and parents visiting the Niagara Falls shortly after arriving in Canada (prior to my conception, a much sadder time for everyone, I’m sure)

In 1995, they came to Canada and started their new lives. My mom babysat the other Vietnamese (and not Vietnamese!) children in the neighborhood, many of them with parents just like mine, while my dad worked odd jobs, studied for his G1 (which he failed multiple times because of the language barrier), tested for his G2, and purchased his first car by 1997, which was when I was born. Eventually, my parents found more fulfilling and better paying work, and we moved to my current home in the lovely and quiet neighborhoods of South Windsor. Here, they made sure my sisters and I attended good schools and got good marks while they continued to support us.

26174797_10155987882986449_745313761_n

My family getting their Canadian Citizenship (sans moi, I was just there for moral support in the middle).

I know that this story is one that many can relate to, and one that strikes a chord for all. It’s the story of the immigrant’s dream. It certainly does not come without struggle, even now. Sometimes it’s big things, like the fact that my parents celebrate Lunar New Year over the course of one evening, as opposed to the week-long celebrations that happen in Vietnam. Sometimes it’s small things, like the cashier at Burger King who rolls his eyes when he asks my dad to repeat himself because he didn’t understand him the first time as a result of English that came from a mouth that was born and raised speaking Vietnamese.

Honestly, I am incredibly ashamed that I’ve ever been embarrassed to hear my parents speak English. Growing up, I’d hate having my friends over in fear that they would mock the way my parents speak to me, or the way that the conversation was just.. a little harder to get on, due to the slightly broken English that my parents spoke. This eventually turned into indifference to their accents in my adolescent years. I didn’t harbor negative feelings, but I certainly would rather not think about it. It wasn’t until I moved out for university that I truly began to appreciate the symbolism behind their accented English.

For me, their accents represent a life and culture that they know like the back of their hand. The accents represent the families that they left behind in order for me to seize the land of opportunity. They represent my mom spending hours on the phone catching up with her siblings and parents on Christmas and Lunar New Year. They represent my dad missing the funeral of his parents because he had newly moved to Canada, with no money and no documentation to fly back home to be with his siblings. They represent the long and crazy hours my parents worked to afford the house we live in now, the clothes I wear, and the education I am so honoured to receive.

While you can tell that English is my parents’ second (but certainly not inferior) language, you can also tell that their lives are incredibly rich in experiences, success, failures, love, and sacrifice. So when I see my mom practicing her Tim Horton’s order before she gets to the drive through so that the worker understands her, I can’t help but beam with pride.

Top Albums from 2017

music

MQXeK7M

2017 was an interesting year to say the least. Meme culture has never been stronger, Donald Trump is *still* president, 19-year olds bought $100 worth of Bitcoin and called themselves pro-traders, a 14-year old girl who told Dr. Phil to “catch her outside” in reference to throwing hands has a TV show. The soundtrack to this crazy year? Fresh Jay-Z, ballads from Ed Sheeran, the boom of Post Malone, and the reemergence of the Gorillaz. Here are my top 5 favorite albums from 2017, and why you should give them a trying chance if you haven’t yet. 

5. American Teen, Khalid

19-year old Khalid stole the hearts of many this year with top hits like “Location” and album-titled “American Teen”. The Texas teen sings about the perils and shenanigans of high school romance, parties, and relationships, surely giving anyone nostalgia of times when we’d get nervous about hot-boxing our parents’ cars and faking drunk to have a good time. The production on the album is really unique, being a hybrid between fresh electric sounds and classic R & B beats. I really liked listening to Khalid on the rare days I’d drive around with the windows down and the sunroof open, or walking to class not completely stressed out. He also has a few tracks for the moodier days where the rain is falling and there’s absolutely no appeal to leave your bed, such as “Cold Blooded”.

5026fddc6c0b69e931ae99130f15d4214f1e7d41

4. 17, XXXTENTACION

Okay, I already know that it’s a controversial decision to put XXX on here and I do want it to be noted that It was really painful for me to do so. XXXTENTACION is also a youngin’, and has an extensive and frankly, disturbing history with violence and domestic abuse. I do not, in any way, condone or am forgiving of his actions, and I actually refused to listen to 17 when it was released. I caved when a few of my friends insisted that I’d like it, and indeed I did. XXX’s album is 11 tracks that begin with “The Explanation“, a spoken description of the album’s content and the state of mind that XXX was in throughout its production. XXX raps candidly about his depression, coping with it, telling his friends and family about his mental health, and some of the dark thoughts that he experienced. I could write on and on about this album, but all I will say is that male, specifically black male culture, and even more specifically, rap culture, is not one that is forgiving or accepting of mental illness, and for XXX to come out with this album is a huge step towards beating the stigma. The production is beautiful, almost old school rap-esque with the beats, with my favorite tracks being “Jocelyn Flores” and “Depression and Obsession“. 

3. More Life, Drake

Drake has really done it again. I hate long albums. and I really hate to admit that I haven’t been overly impressed with anything Drake has put out since Nothing Was the Same in 2013. BUT, when If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and Views came out, I was skeptical at first, and ended up loving the albums after a few listens. The same thing happened with More Life, Drakes 22-track album with hits like “Passionfruit” and “Gyalchester”. It’s funky, hype, chill, moody, and disappointing all at the same time, LOL. There’s some really great collaborations on the album, but I just can’t get into “Glow”, featuring Kanye West. It just…… the idea was there. The execution was not. WITH THAT BEING SAID, it’s really a great album for entertaining and for getting ready for a night out in the 6ix.

tumblr_ov77vixHtN1vl8qxbo1_500

2. Ctrl, SZA

SZA has been around for quite a while, with her bigger hits being the ones where she’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. This year, she released Ctrl, a 14 track album where she sings about love, betrayal, taking back the power that our patriarchal society took from women, and being the other woman. It’s really a beautiful sentiment, with her sultry voice singing about things that we probably never thought we’d never hear.. “You take Wednesday, Thursday, then just send him my way, think I got him covered for the the weekend..”. This is probably going to be one of my favorite R & B albums ever, the production is unreal in that there’s always little “ear treats”, as I call them, on the tracks that compliment SZA’s voice so well. I noticed that SZA also echoes a lot of the sentiment that I see on Twitter and Tumblr now, about how she’s hard to love and doesn’t feel worthy of her lover, but is appreciative of his affection anyway. Just the right amount of self-deprecation for my liking!

SZA-CTRL-album-640x480

1. DAMN., Kendrick Lamar

This is objectively the best album of 2017 don’t @ me. Holy. Crap. I think that Kendrick Lamar is absolutely an unreal artist to begin with and that’s just solidified by how every album he puts out is gold. Everything from the song titles, the track order, and the intros and outros are poetic and strategic in telling a story, especially in DAMN., which features an oddly pleasant collab with U2. The tracks are bass heavy, ear candy with catchy hooks and poetic verses, and when you need a pick me up or to get a group rowdy, this is the go-to album. I have many fond memories from the summer of DNA. coming on in the club and everyone dropping what they’re doing just to rap along. And then I remember that I’m in Waterloo and that it was probably just my group of friends who went HAM to it. It’s fine by me, but I can’t say that I didn’t wish Waterloo had a more prominent rap culture.. ANYWAY. Great album, great message, and if you’ve been living under a rock and actually haven’t listened to it yet, I’d start with watching the music video for ELEMENT. It watches like a short movie and is incredibly thought provoking.

C9H8-PWUIAAzbQ2-jpg-large-e.jpeg

 

Honourable mentions:

  • I Decided, Big Sean
    • Because I love my Detroit rap and I love Big Sean’s flow and lyricality. Why do you like rhymes and puns so much??????
  • Process, Sampha
    • Seriously all the feels. Sampha’s soulful voice and minimal production will have you heartbroken over someone you’ve never even met, with my favorite track being “Plastic 100”
  • Flower Boy, Tyler the Creator
    • I’m really not a Tyler the Creator fan but I always appreciated how unconventional he is and how unique his melodies are and how… different his flow is. Not really my taste, but we gain insight as listeners into sexuality and emotional hardships. If I’m going to give XXXTENTACION props for rapping about things that aren’t traditionally acceptable in rap culture, I have to give it to Tyler too.
  • ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, Joey Bada$$
    • I’m new to the likes of Joey Bada$$ and to be honest I didn’t really ever consider giving him a chance. But, thanks to Spotify’s “Discover Weekly”, I was exposed to a few great tracks like “TEMPTATION”, and “LEGENDARY” (Featuring J.Cole only my favorite artist ever), and the samples and production and lyrics are great and so pleasant to listen to, shedding light on racial inequality and social issues in America (peep the symbolic triple K in the album title).
  • War and Leisure, Miguel
    • This 100% would have made top five but it was released like last week so I don’t think I can consider it 2017. Great listen, very romantic, sensual, and raw. Everything you’d expect from Miguel.