For #amplifymelanatedvoices, my top five works and people that have shaped how I understand race in America (and every single one of them is shorter than a book and available for free on the internet):

1. “The Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates’s 2014 cover story for The Atlantic is a masterpiece, illustrating how 250 years of slavery was compounded by 90 years of jim crow, 60 years of segregation, and 35 years of racist housing policies to bring about the racial disparities we currently see in socioeconomic status, educational attainment, health outcomes, and more. Coates is an infuriatingly good writer and his powers are on full display here: He’s a masterful storyteller and a meticulous reporter, at once blowing your mind and breaking your heart. Should be required reading for every American.

2. Roxane Gay is one of my favorite essayists. Her writing is incisive and penetratingly clear, and she tackles complicated, intersecting questions about race, politics, feminism, and sexuality with nuance and clarity. You can find her work in the New York Times, where she’s an opinion writer; Gay, her magazine on Medium; and – if you’re up for a book – Bad Feminist, her best-selling collection of essays that was bona-fide life-changing for me.

3. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, law professor, and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (an organization you should be donating to), where he and his team represent innocent death row inmates in the South. Desmond Tutu has called him America’s Nelson Mandela, and the analogy is not hyperbolic. I’ve learned more from him about the ways in which the criminal justice system is stacked against black and brown defendants than anyone else. Stevenson is known for his best-selling book Just Mercy, but if you like articles, his 2016 New Yorker profile is excellent; if you like videos, his 2012 TED Talk is legendary; and if you like podcasts, his interviews on Fresh Air and Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing legit changed my life.

4. 13TH, directed by Ava DuVernay. Speaking of the criminal justice system, DuVernay’s 2016 documentary illustrates how a loophole in the 13th amendment incentivized the incarceration of black people in the united states. it is meticulous, unassailable, and infuriating – not just because it meticulously outlines the hundreds of years of systemically criminalizing blackness that our government has done, but because our schools teach almost none of it. The Peabody- and Emmy-award winning documentary is available to stream on Netflix.

5. Another Round, hosted by Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu.  This is my favorite podcast of all time.  It ran from 2015-2017 (and will hopefully return again), and it was just two black writers, then at BuzzFeed, doing segments on whatever they wanted: politics, culture, interviews with writers and actors and athletes of color, professional advice, Tracy’s bad jokes.  Getting to listen in on conversations between two black women taught me more about their everyday experiences than I could have learned anywhere else, and the fact that Clayton and Nigatu are hilarious and smart and deeply fond of each other made the podcast an utter joy. And two people of color hosting a podcast that was about whatever the fuck they wanted – and not just People of Color Issues, though they brought their lenses and experiences to whatever they were discussing – was revolutionary and inspiring for me. You can find this wherever you get your podcasts.

Happy to discuss further or offer more recommendations!

Still a Progressive Asian American Christian, Now a Lot Less Lonely

This piece originally appeared on The Salt Collective, a now-defunct online magazine about culture, faith, and politics.

I sat in a plastic chair in the fluorescent-lit conference room, leaning on the small tablet desk attached to my seat.  The chairs were arranged in a circle around the edge of the room, filling one by one as people trickled in.  Eighteen.  Nineteen.  Twenty.  I could hardly believe it.

It was the first San Francisco Bay Area meetup of Progressive Asian American Christians, an online community I had inadvertently helped to start.  Less than two months prior, I had written a piece about how lonely it is to be a progressive Asian American Christian.  At the end of it, I linked a then-empty Facebook group that a new friend of mine, Lydia Suh, had created.  It would be a place, I imagined, where people who resonated with the piece could go to see that other people like them existed — where they would see a bunch of profile pictures and feel validated and maybe post the occasional article.

Neither Lydia nor I expected what followed:  Three hundred people joined the group the day after the piece went up; less than six weeks later, we had two thousand.  But it wasn’t just the numbers that surprised us — it was the energy and enthusiasm that these folks brought with them.  They immediately started sharing their stories, discussing controversial topics, asking when we could start meeting in person.  The first meetup took place a month after the group started (in Minneapolis, impressively enough); within the next three months, eight more cities would start their own.

On this sunny Saturday afternoon in February, on the fourth floor of an office building in the city, the first Bay Area meetup about to begin.  As I watched people rolling in — peering around, introducing themselves, finding seats — I noticed an unfamiliar feeling in my chest.


Over the last six months, friends have regularly asked me what it’s been like to co-facilitate this online community, which now has over 3600 members.  I tell them the truth: It’s been amazing, one of the most profound and meaningful things I’ve ever been a part of.  It has also been wildly stressful.

The amazing part is easier to grasp.  Some people in the group have said that they finally have a space where they feel at home — where they aren’t on the margins, as they are in their conservative Asian American churches or in their predominantly white progressive churches.  A few folks who stopped going to church because they were tired of not fitting in anywhere have told us that this is the first spiritual community they’ve had in years.  One person shared that after years of Christians telling him that his views on women and gay people weren’t Christian, he had resigned himself to the fact that he wasn’t.  He Googled “asian liberal christianity” in a last-ditch effort to see if there was any place for him.  My piece came up, which led him to the group and showed him that he isn’t alone in his convictions.  Another person started a subgroup solely for Asian American LGBTQIA+ and questioning Christians, which, I’m told, has been life-giving and life-changing for its members.  Responses like these have been overwhelming and humbling.

And there are countless smaller moments that are also deeply meaningful.  People post photos of meetups in Boston and DC and Philly where they shared their stories and discussed what it looks like to live as a progressive Asian American Christian.  People share vulnerable questions and experiences and the community rises to meet them, offering empathy and validation and solidarity.  People have thoughtful, nuanced discussions about everything from Israel and Palestine to Hollywood whitewashing to why they continue to identify Christian in a time when so many Christians espouse ideas that are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.  People say how much they’re learning from the group, how they wouldn’t be able to have these conversations elsewhere, how the group has empowered them to be more vocal in their real-life communities.  It’s an honor to witness these exchanges, to know that a space I helped create is making a palpable difference in the lives of the people who are in it.

But running the group is not all sunshine and rainbows.  Neither Lydia nor I anticipated the amount of time that it would take in our already-full lives.  Moderating alone is a significant time commitment, let alone planning in-person meetups and a national conference, applying for grants, building a website, incorporating a non-profit.  We receive a good amount of feedback from people we’ve never met, some of which is thoughtful and tactful, some of which is less so.  And it’s incredibly difficult to maintain boundaries with a group that runs 24/7 and is almost immediately accessible, no matter where I am in the world.  Most of the time, it chugs along just fine on its own — but every now and then, something or someone in the group will demand immediate attention, and it’s almost always when I’m on a walk with my toddler or sitting down to dinner with my husband.

And then there’s everything that comes with navigating a space on the internet where most of the people don’t know each other in person.  Tone can be hard to read online and people come to the group with vastly different experiences, personalities, and contexts, so innocuous conversations can turn combative in a matter of moments.  I sometimes see comments that are less than charitable and make me cringe.  And on the rare occasions when something in the group blows up — say, if someone posts something offensive — intervention is rarely straightforward.  Even when the moderating squad has a clear sense of how to respond, which we don’t always, there’s usually a case to be made for why we should do things another way.  So we drop whatever we’re doing to furiously text each other about what to do and we do it, knowing that our decision will be disputed and some people will likely end up feeling aggrieved.  This comes with the territory, but that fact makes these situations no less stressful in the moment.

But the trickiest part of facilitating the group is trying to create a space where people at all different stages of the journey feel welcome.  “Progressive” is a relative term, after all, and what’s progressive in one context may be charmingly (or less charmingly) quaint in another.  For some, even asking whether women can be pastors or whether same-sex relationships might be okay is enough to be deemed a heretic in their community, especially if they’ve only ever gone to Asian churches.  For others, these questions are a distant memory, if they were ever on the table at all.  Some folks in the group wonder why reproductive rights are still up for discussion in a group with a progressive label; others, who perhaps have never encountered pro-choice Christians before or heard a Christian argument for reproductive rights, worry they’ll be shot down for asking questions.  At various points, people at both ends of the spectrum have been frustrated, and Lydia and I totally get why.  And we recognize that it’s a tall order to be both a space where progressive Asian American Christians can talk freely, where we don’t have to explain or defend ourselves, and a space where people who are still working out these issues feel safe to ask questions.  We want those folks to be privy to our conversations, to hear perspectives that are rarely seen or heard in Asian American Christian communities, because that’s how progress is made.  Most of the time, I think we manage to do both.  But that isn’t always the case, and those moments are the most stressful of all.

At those times, Lydia and I do whatever we need to do to take care of ourselves.  And then I return to the group and see lovely things happening — people connecting, sharing their stories and talking about important issues, learning from each other.  I read sweet messages from people sharing what the group means to them, offering words of encouragement, volunteering to help however they can.  I chat with the new friends I’ve made in LA, in Boston, in London who understand not only the things I care about but also the experiences that brought me to this point.  I see people having the transformative experience of finding a place where they belong, and it is sublime.  And then I remember that all the time and energy and stress is worth it.


Thirty-five people showed up that Saturday in February, driving in from as far as San Jose and Vallejo, an hour in either direction.  The only agenda item was to share your story:  Why are you here?  Why do you identify as a progressive Asian American Christian?

We went around the room, pausing occasionally to make room for a latecomer, and the stories were captivating:  Stories of growing up in conservative immigrant churches in California and Texas and Illinois, experiences that awakened them to some kind of injustice, finding themselves at odds with their communities.  Stories of not fitting in in Asian American churches or in progressive churches.  Stories of working as lawyers for refugees and homeless people, as teachers and pastors and social workers, as graphic designers and educators about food justice.  Stories of coming out to unsupportive, condemning communities; of starting organizations so that no one would have to go through the same experience.  Stories of being fired from Christian organizations for being LGBT-affirming.  And above and beyond, stories about wanting to find a decolonized, authentic Asian American Christianity that isn’t just a haphazardly-applied version of white evangelicalism.

As the stories flowed, the unfamiliar feeling in my chest started to expand, spreading through my torso and down my extremities.  And as it warmed my arms and my feet and my toes, I suddenly recognized what it was:  I felt like I was home.

If you’re interested in checking it out, you can find the Progressive Asian American Christians Facebook group here.  We’re also hosting a national conference in San Francisco from June 16-18, where we’ll be talking about everything from social justice and activism to mental health to feminism; you can find details and register here.

The Loneliness of the Progressive Asian American Christian

This piece originally appeared on The Salt Collective, a now-defunct online magazine about culture, faith, and politics. It was later picked up by the Huffington Post.

For a long and formative time in my life, the Asian American church was my home. I came to faith at 15 in the high school ministry of a Chinese church. This was the place where I started to grasp the idea of a gracious God who loved me unconditionally; it was also where I came to terms with my Asian American identity, something I had been bitterly fighting for a decade. It was the first Asian American community I’d ever been a part of, and for the first time in my life, I felt normal. I now had friends who innately got how I interacted with my family, how I thought about school and college and the future — all the experiences that made me so different from my peers at school. I felt seen and accepted and understood, both by God and the people around me.

In college, I was part of a Chinese American campus fellowship — but as the years went on, I started to notice a disconnect between my friends there and me. I was beginning to care a lot about race, politics, current events, feminism. No one at my fellowship discouraged me from pursuing these things, but for the most part, they weren’t interested in discussing them either. Whatever the reason, when I wanted to talk about those issues, I mostly had to look elsewhere.

And then I went to grad school — a clinical psychology graduate program that was housed in a seminary — and my whole world got blown open.

I took theology classes and learned that the context in which each part of the Bible was written is crucial to understanding the text and applying it appropriately to our context. I hung out with students from a whole spectrum of Christian traditions — most of whom were not Asian — and saw the myriad ways in which they practiced their faith, many of which did not look like mine. I heard theological ideas that were way edgier than my own, espoused by professors who took their faith seriously. I learned more about power and privilege and the systemic nature of racism in this country. I sat with dozens of clients and heard their stories of pain and trauma and resilience and hope, and I realized that all of us have far more in common than not and everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. I finished grad school with a completely different understanding of my faith than when I started. It was no longer just about Jesus as my personal Savior and helping people like me; it was about Jesus as a revolutionary who came to set the oppressed free (Luke 4.18), and it was about using my voice and my privilege on behalf of those who don’t have those things. Following Jesus was no longer primarily about my individual relationship with him; it now meant continuing his work of embracing and advocating for the marginalized and fighting injustice.

I’m grateful for how my faith transformed during that time. But it came at a cost: Early on in my graduate career, I started to find it difficult to be in Asian American churches. They still felt familiar and comforting in some ways, but the messages that I heard, both from the pulpit and the congregation, rarely acknowledged the things that were becoming central to my faith. There was, at least in the communities I visited at that point in time, little mention of injustice or how to Christians should respond to it. Aside from musicians in the worship band and the occasional Scripture reader, I almost never saw women up front. If LGBT issues were ever raised, it was to reiterate the notion that homosexuality was unacceptable. Almost invariably, I left Asian American churches — once the places where I felt most at home — feeling like I didn’t belong.

As I looked for churches that were a better theological fit, I ended up in ones that were predominantly white. For the most part, I haven’t minded being in the racial minority; it’s an experience I’m used to, having grown up in the Midwest, and I value diversity and having friends of all kinds. But there are times when it wears on me — when I wish that connecting with my Christian community was as effortless as it once was, that I didn’t have to explain so much about myself or my experiences. I wish, sometimes, that I were a little less alone.

Being a progressive Asian American Christian can be lonely — because for us, finding a Christian community often means having to choose between shared theology and shared experience. We can join churches that match our ideology, which are usually predominantly white or black. Or we can join churches that mirror our cultural experiences, which are often silent — if not actively oppressive — when it comes to women, other people of color, and LGBT folks. Finding a community often means making a choice between integral parts of ourselves.


It’s no secret that Asian American Christianity tends to be conservative. Asian immigrant churches are especially so, and since 92% of Asians in America are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, most Asian American Christians have spent serious time in these communities. The conservativeness of these churches stems from several factors: For one, they generally maintain the social mores of their home culture, which are usually more conservative than broader American culture on every front, from clothing and appearance to interactions with elders to dating and sexuality. Then you add the immigrant mentality of playing everything very safe and going out of your way to avoid trouble; you also mix in the conservative views of white American evangelicalism, upon which Asian churches draw heavily for resources (books, curriculum, etc.) and general direction for how Christians should respond to political issues and current events. You end up with communities that can be even more conservative than the typical white evangelical church: they’re vehemently pro-life and anti-gay marriage, and they may also perceive questions as challenges to authority and forbid high school dating.

So if you’re in an Asian church and you start to think that, say, women should have the same rights and privileges as men when it comes to doing ministry and church decision-making, you may find yourself at odds with the people around you. While many Asian countries have made strides in this area, patriarchal values still permeate Asian cultures to varying degrees, and these values can shape how Asian clergy interpret the Bible. Though I don’t have hard data, I would bet that the majority of Asian immigrant churches don’t allow women to hold the same leadership roles than men do. I would also wager that many churches targeting American-born Asians, while somewhat more progressive, don’t either. (And many of the ones that do in theory, I suspect, have no female pastors in practice.) So if you’re at an Asian church and you come to the not-so-radical conclusion that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men in a church context — since we now have the same access to literacy and education that men do, which was not the case when any part of the Bible was written — your perspective may not be warmly received.

And if you’re in an Asian church and you start to think that, say, black people experience more police brutality than other groups do and maybe Christians should talk about that, you may again find yourself at odds with the people around you. Asian Americans are often silent on issues of racism for a number of reasons: the cultural value of harmony, an immigrant mentality of looking out only for yourself, anti-black racism in both Asia and America, a belief in the model minority myth. This tendency can be especially pervasive in Asian churches, where fear of disrupting the community can make individuals especially reluctant to bring up issues that could be controversial. And since Asian cultures tend to be more hierarchical than Western ones, church leaders may cherry-pick verses about obeying authority to invalidate the idea that the police or the government might ever be wrong. So if you want to talk about systemic injustice at an Asian church, you might not find many willing conversation partners, and you might be silenced altogether.

And if you’re in an Asian church and you start to think that, say, LGBT folks should be allowed to have the same relationships and rights to marriage that straight people have, and should be allowed to participate fully in all aspects of the church even if they’re out, you may really find yourself at odds with the people around you. If Asian churches aren’t totally sold on women, it’s not surprising that they’re even farther behind when it comes to LGBT issues, which are taboo both spiritually and culturally. “There isn’t a Korean church in America with a non-traditional view of marriage,” an affirming Korean American pastor once told me. I can’t think of any Chinese or Taiwanese churches that do — or any East, Southeast, or South Asian churches, for that matter — though I would love for both of us to be wrong. (If you have a counterexample, please let me know — I’d love to hear about it.) The only predominantly Asian American church I know of that’s engaging these issues at all is Evergreen Baptist Church LA, but even they don’t have an officially affirming stance. So if you’re at an Asian church and you start to think that LGBT people should have the same rights as cisgender heterosexuals, you may find yourself alone on the issue, if not rebuked for thinking so. (And that’s if you’re merely an ally; if you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, the ramifications of being in these communities are infinitely greater, and all the more if you come out.)


To be clear, I don’t think Asian churches are bad. They understand and are uniquely equipped to meet the needs of their communities — this is especially true for immigrant churches — and they provide a respite for people who have to spend the rest of the week constantly crossing cultural barriers. But for all of the reasons I’ve mentioned, it’s not hard to see why progressive Asian American Christians often find themselves unable to participate in these communities.

The next step for many of us, then, is to find other churches that care about these issues. But these communities are usually predominantly white (or predominantly black, though these churches are rarely progressive on LGBT issues), and that can carry its own baggage. It can be hard to be the only Asian American person around, or one of only a few, both because of how you stand out and because you have to do so much more work to be heard and understood. You no longer have cultural experiences in common; the shorthand that you can speak in Asian American churches doesn’t translate. You may find yourself having to explain a lot — about your family, about your culture, about what your faith looks like — to people who have no firsthand experience of these things. The fear of being misunderstood, or of misrepresenting an entire culture, or of having to defend how you do things is real and exhausting. And it can be hard to be in a community where you don’t see your own experiences reflected in any part of the worship or the liturgy or the leadership. It’s easy in spaces like these to feel like you don’t belong.

And some of these progressive communities, for all of their rhetoric about supporting black lives and standing against injustice, don’t really know how to talk about race or how race and racism affect their members. Some of these communities think they get it because they say the right things but don’t actually see how pervasive whiteness is, even within their own walls. So the progressive Asian American Christian may find themselves feeling alone and even alienated, again, this time because of their cultural identity.


So to summarize: I feel out of place in Asian American Christian spaces, though I can’t overstate the impact they’ve had on my life. And while I’m grateful for the progressive Christian spaces that I’ve had — the fact that I have access to any is as gift, as I know they’re hard to find in some parts of the country — I often feel out of place there, too. In my most cynical moments, I’ve wondered why I bother trying to participate in any of these communities and why I continue to pursue this faith at all. But at the end of the day, I can’t get away from the fact that at the core of my convictions about justice is my belief that we’re all created the image of God, who values each of us wholly and equally, and my belief in Jesus as a revolutionary who came to dignify every person and to level the hierarchies that our societies create. Try as I may, I can’t escape those things. My progressive values and my faith are inextricably intertwined.

So I stick around. And while I love diversity and inclusion and having friends of all stripes, every now and again, it would be nice to have a place where I didn’t have to choose between people who get my theology and people who get my experiences. And I know that people who get both are out there. I know a lot of them, actually; I made a list, and what started as a trickle became a flood. But we’re scattered all over the place, both in terms of geography and the churches we attend. My one-on-one interactions with these folks are normalizing and life-giving; these meals and coffee dates are now my spiritual home. But we don’t really have places to connect more broadly.

And I know more of you are out there. Some of you are lucky enough to attend churches like City Church San Francisco and Vox Veniae — exceedingly rare places that are progressive and have sizeable Asian American contingents. You’re fortunate to have a community where you don’t have to choose between the two. I get why you’re there.

Some of you are sitting in the pews at Redeemer and Pacific Crossroads, at New Song and GrX, in the English ministries of the immigrant churches where you grew up or where you work with students. Maybe you quietly ignore the church’s stances about women in ministry and LGBT issues or their silence about racial injustice because it’s nice to have friends whose stories are similar to yours. I get that. Or maybe, in spite of your ideological differences, this church is still the best option among the ones you have available to you. I get that. Or maybe you’re trying to do the incredibly difficult, admirable work of creating change from within. I get that too.

Some of you, not feeling like you belong at progressive churches or in Asian American ones because you can’t be fully yourself in either, don’t go to church anywhere. I get that.

And some of you affirmed women or other people of color or gay folks but saw no place for that in your church — or, worse, were reprimanded for doing so — so you left the faith altogether. I get that. If the only options I knew of were to dignify all people or be a Christian, and these options appeared to be mutually exclusive, I probably would have chosen the former too.

I know you’re out there, and I wish we all could meet somehow. I’m not arguing that we necessarily need progressive Asian American churches, though I’d be stoked to know that one exists. But it would be lovely to have spaces where we didn’t have to choose between shared theology and shared experience; where we could connect with people with similar stories; where we didn’t feel the need to turn down the volume on either our ideology or our cultural experiences. Where we could be fully known and fully understood every once in a while. Where we could feel a little less lonely.

If you’re interested in such a space, here’s a start: Join the Progressive Asian American Christians group on Facebook, curated by Lydia Suh, a pastor at City Church San Francisco. We’re still figuring out what the group is, but at the very least, it’s a place to know that we aren’t alone.

Photo credit: Diana Chen

The Day After the Verdict, Round 2: Yup, Still a Joke

Maybe this time, I thought before yesterday’s grand jury decision was announced.

Because Daniel Pantoleo, the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death on July 17, has a history of alleged race-related misconduct.

Maybe this time.

Because the NYPD forbids its members from using chokeholds — a rule that went into effect 21 years ago, long before Pantoleo was ever a cop.

Maybe this time.

Because the New York City medical coroner ruled Garner’s death a homicide.

Maybe this time.

Because the entire incident was filmed.  Because you can see in the tape, as the New York Times stated, that Garner was “not acting belligerently, posed no risk of flight, brandished no weapon and was heavily outnumbered.”  Because you can hear him say “I can’t breathe” 11 times before he dies.  Eleven.  Times.

Maybe this time.

But then the news broke.

As I tried to make sense of the decision, stunned and sad and outraged (a luxury, I recognize), I also felt foolish for thinking that the outcome might be different this time.

Because after all, the grand jury proceedings took place in Staten Island, a borough that’s long been sympathetic to police officers, in large part because so many of them live there.

Because we don’t know what charges, if any, the prosecutor recommended to the grand jury — though we do know that prosecutors are generally reluctant to put police officers on trial, perhaps because they work so closely together and don’t want to risk hurting those relationships.

Because time and time again, grand juries decline to bring charges against police officers who shoot unarmed civilians.

And given everything that this case had going for it — the officer’s history, his use of a prohibited chokehold, the medical examiner’s ruling, the tape (the TAPE!) — I had to face some deeply unpleasant realities:

That even though police body cameras are a good first step (see how public opinion largely favored an indictment in this case, as opposed to the Darren Wilson case, which had no tape and conflicting eyewitness testimony), maybe they won’t fix the problem.

That maybe our society isn’t interested in holding police officers accountable for killing unarmed black civilians, and they’ll continue to do so with impunity.

That maybe our criminal justice system is even more of a joke than I thought it was last week.

Something has to change.

The Day After the Verdict: Is This a Joke?

Like many others, I have been asking this question for months.

First, back in August, when news outlets reported that Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor for St. Louis County, had a long history of siding with the police; that his father, a St. Louis cop, was killed on the job by a black man; that his brother, uncle, and cousin were cops as well; that his mother had worked as a clerk in police headquarters; that he himself had wanted to be a cop until one of his legs was amputated in high school.  His office would be responsible for presenting the case of Darren Wilson, a Ferguson cop who shot and killed Michael Brown, before a grand jury.

Is this a joke?

And then when McCulloch said he would let the jury of 12 civilians figure out what charge to bring, if any, instead of making a case for a specific charge, as prosecutors usually do.  And instead of selecting a few key witnesses and experts to testify, he would give them “every last scrap of evidence” — essentially drowning them information that they did not have the skills to parse.  As former federal prosecutor Alex Little told Vox, “So when a District Attorney says, in effect, ‘we’ll present the evidence and let the grand jury decide,’ that’s malarkey. If he takes that approach, then he’s already decided to abdicate his role in the process as an advocate for justice. At that point, there’s no longer a prosecutor in the room guiding the grand jurors, and — more importantly — no state official acting on behalf of the victim, Michael Brown.”

Is this a joke?

And then last week, when Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the grand jury’s findings — more than a week before the results were actually announced.  This announcement was one of many portents of what the decision would be; after all, if they thought an indictment was coming, they would not be anticipating riots, and they would not preemptively bring in the National Guard.  (As Michael Che said on Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update, “Deploying the National Guard before the verdict is like your lawyer telling you to show up in court in something orange.”)  Not to mention that bringing in such force has a way of escalating tense situations — especially when said force takes a stance that’s aggressive instead of containing, as it did when it was first called to Ferguson in August.  (Many military veterans criticized their behavior.)  Not surprisingly, a self-fulfilling prophecy ensued, because when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  So everything, even peaceful gatherings, even journalists observing the situation, was perceived as an actionable threat.  So not only did the National Guard exacerbate the situation in Ferguson in August, but Nixon decided last week that it would be a good idea to preemptively bring them back.

Is this a joke?

And then yesterday morning, when news circulated about yet another African American child killed by police — this time a 12-year-old in Cleveland, Tamir Rice, who had been wielding an airsoft gun at a park.  When police arrived, he was swinging on a swingset.  Minutes later, they shot him dead.  The timing was ominous.

Is this a joke?

And then when McCulloch finally took the podium last night and started his announcement with a longwinded, defensive preface, lashing out at the 24-hour news cycle and social media, as though concerned people wanting to know what happened were somehow culpable for Brown’s death.

Is this a joke?

And then when McCulloch finally announced that the grand jury did not make an indictment — a statistical rarity, as grand juries almost always indict.  But prosecutors can get grand juries to do pretty much anything they want (as former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler said, a prosecutor can persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich”), so the fact that they did not — coupled with McCulloch’s tactics in presenting the case, as described earlier — suggest that he got exactly the result he wanted.

Is this a joke?

And then when McCulloch proceeded to drone on, in excruciating detail, why no indictment was made.  The prosecutor became a defense attorney, discrediting eyewitness testimony, declaring that no one should ever have to be in Wilson’s position.  Wilson’s position.  Not the position of the unarmed teenager staring down the barrel of a police officer’s gun.

Is this a joke?

And then when the statement from Michael Brown’s parents, Michael Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, was released in the middle of the interminable announcement — already prepared, as they too probably anticipated the worst — which was infinitely more gracious and hopeful than I could have ever been in their shoes.  As Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times said, their statement offered the most constructive words of the evening, that police officers should be equipped with body cameras.  Of the two parties center stage, the ones who made more sense were the parents of the deceased victim, who were probably beside themselves with grief.

Is this a joke?

And then when President Obama made a statement, looking nothing like the impassioned orator we know him to be, especially in times of distress; he looked tired and frustrated, making bland statements about how incidents like this are an ongoing problem in communities of color.  He acknowledged that, at least.  But the president has been a lawyer, a law professor, and a community organizer in predominantly black neighborhoods; surely he has more to say about this situation than that it’s an ongoing issue and “we have made enormous progress in race relations over the past decades” and “there is never an excuse for violence.”  I wanted him to rise to the occasion and be the leader that we need right now, to help us make sense of this, to tell us what we should do now.  At the same time, I felt sorry for him, that he probably has so much to say that he cannot — because if he brings up race, his opponents will accuse him of playing the race card, and because his administration has been beleaguered by troubles in the last few months and cannot really sustain any more vulnerabilities.  I felt sorry that directly acknowledging the realities of racism in our justice system would open him up to attack, but Hillary Clinton can do it and no one accuses her of playing the race card.  Because, you know, white privilege.

Is this a joke?

And then the hypocrisy of this:

And the hypocrisy of declaring it okay for Darren Wilson to use violence when he felt threatened but not for the community to do the same.

Is this a joke?

Yes, it is.  Our criminal justice system, for all of the well-meaning people in it, is a joke.

When black teenagers are 21 times more likely than white teenagers to be killed by cops — the system is a joke.

When Marissa Alexander is in prison for shooting no one while Darren Wilson gets half a million dollars but no charge — the system is a joke.

When 14 people have been killed by police in St. Louis County in the last decade and not a single one of the cops was charged — the system is a joke.

When black and white Americans have comparable rates of drug use but black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for drugs and get 13.1% longer sentences, and drugs that are more often used by black people have far weightier punishments than those more often used by white people, and SWAT teams are more likely to target black neighborhoods than white neighborhoods — the system is a joke.

It’s been a gutting 24 hours, with these painful reminders that the world is a terribly unfair place, that W. E. B. DuBois was right when he said that “a system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”  And I am one of the fortunate ones, that I can look at these facts and feel sadness and outrage instead of absolute terror.

Something has to change.

Why Asian Americans Might Not Talk About Ferguson

This piece originally appeared on The Salt Collective, a now-defunct online magazine about culture, faith, and politics.

Two years ago, I found myself trying to break into my friends’ apartment.

I had coordinated their wedding a few days earlier, and they had since departed for their honeymoon.  A box from the wedding was supposed to go to one of the guests, only to end up in their apartment.  Now the guest wanted the box, and I, having a key to their home, needed to retrieve it.

My friends had warned me that the key had a tendency to stick, though that proved to be an understatement.  After ten minutes of wrestling with it, my hands sore from twisting and straining, I gave up.  The box would have to wait.  But I thought about the maintenance man I had seen across the courtyard as I struggled with the door; surely he would have a functional key.

The request was ridiculous, I knew:  I had never seen this person before.  He had absolutely no reason to believe my reasons for needing to enter the apartment.  But I figured I had nothing to lose, so I waved him over and asked if he would let me in.

Much to my surprise, he did — no questions asked.  Even more shocking was the fact that he unlocked the door and immediately left, not bothering to wait around and make sure that I didn’t ransack the place.  He let a complete stranger into an apartment that wasn’t his and walked away.

As I entered the apartment and started looking for the box, I was incredulous — and I was never more aware of the privileges I have as an Asian American woman.

Would this person have ever let me into the apartment if I were a black man?  I’m not a betting person, but even I would put serious money on the answer being no.  I probably would’ve been asked to leave the premises, too.

Yes, I experience a host of disadvantages as an Asian American woman, but I can’t deny that I also have a number of privileges — one of which is that no one ever suspects me of wrongdoing.  Thus I found myself on my hands and knees in my friends’ living room, opening and closing boxes, let in by a stranger who was now nowhere to be seen.


Race is complicated, especially for those who don’t fit into the black and white binary that usually frames conversations about race in this country.  This, I suspect, is one of the reasons why I’ve seen such varied responses to Ferguson in my Asian American circles.  I’ve seen Asian Americans lamenting and protesting; I’ve seen Asian Americans declaring that no injustice was done; but more often than not, I’ve seen Asian Americans completely silent.

Race is complicated for us.  On one hand, we’re disadvantaged in many ways.  We’re perpetually seen as foreigners, as people who don’t belong here.  Our successes are often attributed our race instead of our own talent or hard work.  We’re overlooked for promotions, walked over in social and professional situations, openly mocked.  We’re reduced to stereotypes, our women hypersexualized and fetishized, our men emasculated.  Multiple laws have been passed to exclude us from immigration and citizenship.  Tens of thousands of us, in a stunning violation of constitutional rights, were forcibly removed from their homes, communities, jobs, and possessions and relocated to internment camps during World War II — and released back into society, years later, with nothing.  We’ve been the victims of hate crimes from vandalism to murder.  Like all people of color in the US, Asian Americans have been consistent targets of individual and systemic racism.

But as Asian Americans, we do have some privileges.  People generally assume that we’re smart and hardworking, which is reductive but infinitely preferable to people assuming the opposite.  We’re assumed to be good tenants, reliable employees, responsible citizens — not troublemakers.  Teachers and police officers — and maintenance workers — tend to believe the best about us and not to suspect or fear us.  The impact of these beliefs on how we experience the world cannot be overstated.  It’s not surprising that at 17, when I first heard in a freshman seminar that I was oppressed because I was Asian American, my first response was skepticism.

So when a conversation about race is framed in black and white terms — which, in this country, is the case more often than not — it’s not always clear who we should be identifying with.  We don’t have quite the same disadvantages or quite the same history of oppression as black people, but we aren’t fully accepted like white people, either.  Our experiences don’t always clearly dictate which side we belong on.

And then there are all the other cultural and social factors that influence how we respond to events like Ferguson.

For one, Asian cultures strongly value harmony and not creating conflict.  The American proverb says that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; the Japanese proverb says that the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Thus, even in the face of controversial events, even when we ourselves are the victims of wrongdoing, many Asian Americans tend to remain silent.

This tendency is exacerbated by the fact that more than 90% of Asian Americans are immigrants or children of immigrants1 — people shaped by an immigrant mindset of keeping your head down and your mouth shut, even if the circumstances are terrible. Because you want to be welcomed and accepted here, and complaining usually creates the opposite response, even if those complaints are warranted.

Along with that immigrant mentality can come a need to survive at all costs — at least in my family.  My parents desperately wanted my brother and me to succeed in this country, and the only way to ensure that was for us to beat everyone else.  So they instilled in us a deep competitiveness, a need to be the best.  I grew up with a sense that I had to fight for my own success and not let other people or their problems drag me down, an attitude that haunts me still.

And then you have the anti-black sentiment that pervades Asian and Asian American communities. There are plenty of better-researched, better-written explanations for these attitudes, but in my experience, the human predisposition to stereotype and the fairly universal attitudes about light skin being superior to dark skin are exacerbated in cultures that are racially homogenous.  We see this in the US:  Communities that have very little diversity, where there is little contact with people of different races, tend to have the strongest stereotypes.  In Asian countries, where the overwhelming majority of people have black hair and brown eyes, it’s especially easy to generalize about those with different phenotypes, either positively or negatively.  And immigrants bring those attitudes with them to the States.

Once they’re here, they encounter the model minority myth, the erroneous belief that Asians have been more successful in America than other races because of inherent positive qualities.  Asians didn’t create this myth; it was created by a white sociologist who stereotyped Asians and other races without any sense of history.  But many Asian Americans have bought into it, and some propagate it themselves.  Because after all, it’s a story that serves us, at least on the surface.  It also aligns us with white people, the people with power, the people we want to accept us — and it can bring us comfort to think that we’re not at the bottom of the food chain.  And sometimes we keep our distance from those at the bottom, consciously or otherwise, out of fear that others will lump us together.

So when you have all of these factors at play and something like Ferguson happens, it isn’t terribly surprising that many Asian Americans stay quiet.  People’s responses vary considerably, of course, but when you consider all of these factors — the cultural value of not causing a stir, the immigrant attitudes of looking out for ourselves and wanting to be accepted, not wanting to be associated with people lower than us on the social food chain — it’s almost remarkable that Asian Americans have spoken up at all.

Make no mistake:  I don’t think that any of these factors let us off the hook when it comes to speaking and acting against injustice.  I feel very strongly about what happened in Ferguson, the wider systemic injustices it reflects, and the need for people of all races to act.  But the events of the last few weeks, and the consequent responses (and lack thereof), have made me reflect on the many things that had to happen in order for me to become vocal about issues like these.

I needed to learn about the systemic racism that pervades our society, that manifests in things like the targeting of black men.  I needed to learn the ugly history that led to these realities, much of which I had not learned in school.

I needed to acknowledge my own biases and those of my family and community, to understand their origins, and to learn how to challenge them whenever they appear in my head, in conversations with others, in public forums.

I needed to learn that my only-out-for-myself attitude was ultimately not helpful for me or for anyone around me.  I needed to learn that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, as Martin Luther King said; that if one part of the body suffers, every part suffers (1 Corinthians 12.26); that ending injustice — all injustice — is a central part of what God wants to see in the world (Isaiah 58.6, Luke 4.18).

I needed to learn that some things are worth rocking the boat for — and that if I wasn’t proactive about fighting injustice, I was quietly perpetuating it.

So many things needed to happen in order for me to feel comfortable being vocal and active about issues of race; there were cultural and social barriers to overcome, things to learn, attitudes to examine.  And I still have a lot of work to do.  Again, I’m not excusing anyone for failing to speak up — but I acknowledge that being active about issues of race, for Asian Americans, often means swimming against a strong current.

So let me ask you:

What do you need to do?


1 Zhou, M., & Yang, X. (2005). The multifaceted American experiences of the children of Asian immigrants: Lessons for segmented assimilation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28, 1119-1152.  (Article available here.)

The Asian American Quarter-Life Crisis.


In the 10 years since I graduated from college, I’ve had the same conversation hundreds of times:

“What are you doing now?”

“I’m an engineer/a lawyer/a pharmacist/an analyst at [insert name of large bank here].”

“Oh, cool!  Do you like it?”

[shrug] “It’s work.”

Or maybe:

“Not really, but… I guess it’s okay for now….”

Or maybe just:


I’ve had this conversation so many times that I feel like this problem is epidemic:  So many Asian Americans I know have great jobs.  So few of them enjoy their work.

I’ve dubbed this the Asian American Quarter-Life Crisis: intelligent and hard-working twenty- and thirtysomethings in stable, well-paying jobs that they detest but don’t leave.

If the conversation continues (and often it doesn’t, because the other person is depressed by it or just doesn’t want to talk about it), the reasons for staying in the job are sometimes predictable.  “It pays the bills.”  “The economy is crap.”  But what I hear most often is this: “I don’t know what else I would do.”


Working a job that you don’t like isn’t unique to Asian Americans, obviously — it’s a problem so common that complaining about it is cliche.  But I think this issue is especially pervasive in Asian American communities.  For one, Asian cultures tend to be risk-averse, to value knowing your place and not rocking the boat.  On top of that, our parents came to this country for the sake of financial security and stability, and they inculcated us with the same values.  Most of us have been raised to think about our futures for as long as we can remember.  It starts with math workbooks.  Gifted summer camps.  Endless SAT prep.  All for the sake of fabulous college applications, which lead us to the best universities.  The best internships.  The best (read: most lucrative, most prestigious, most stable) careers, which usually fall somewhere in the vicinity of medicine, law, engineering, and (corporate) business.

In midst of all this striving for the best, there’s little to no attention paid to what we might actually enjoy.  That would be indulgent, if not completely unheard of.  There’s little concern in Asian cultures for personal strengths and weaknesses; there’s no such thing as someone who’s “not a math person” or “not a science person,” because excellence in any area can be attained through hard work.  There’s nothing that can’t be achieved through more repetitions or more discipline.  Failure to excel at something is not attributed to our unique dispositions; it’s attributed solely to laziness or lack of effort, and that is unacceptable.  As a result, we’re trained to excel at everything.  We become excellent at jumping through hoops and knocking down any task that’s placed before us. That’s what we end up enjoying, at least while we’re in school.  These are not terrible skills to have, mind you.  But the flip side is that as we’re trained be great at everything, there’s very little attention paid to what among those things we actually like.  Generally speaking, this is not on our parents’ radars at all, and as a result, it goes neglected on ours.

The result of all of this: a generation of Asian Americans who are excellent at achieving but have no idea what they want to do.  (Or, if they do know, are reluctant to pursue it because it isn’t as stable or well-paid as their current jobs.)  A generation that is incredibly successful but, professionally speaking, not terribly happy.

Not to say that there aren’t Asian Americans who, in the midst of racking up achievements, figured out and pursued what interested them.  And there are certainly Asian parents who are exceptions to the rule, who are actually interested in what their children want to do and support them regardless.  I have Asian American friends who are graphic designers, actors, community activists; who are rethinking math pedagogy for Teach for America and doing campus ministry; and yes, even a few who enjoy being doctors and programmers and brand managers.  Their numbers, however, are dwarfed by the scores of Asian Americans I know who would be much happier in other fields — engineers who should be teachers and filmmakers, lawyers who should be writers, doctors who should be chefs.  And, of course, those who have no idea what they should be doing.

Also, I’m not trying to invalidate or trivialize how difficult this quarter-life crisis is.  It’s a crisis, after all, because there are significant pros and cons to all available options.  But I can’t help but wonder what kind of creative, innovative projects and careers Asian Americans would tackle if they weren’t confined — psychologically, financially, or culturally — to jobs they didn’t enjoy.  And how much happier and more fulfilled they might be as a result.


Of course, I draw not only from my peers’ experiences but also my own. I grew up as a little achieving machine.  My parents weren’t just Asian immigrants; they were Asian immigrants who came here to get PhDs and went on to become professors, so education was paramount in our family.  The value of education (and stability it would eventually bring me) was so strong that my mom didn’t even need to be a tiger mom; by elementary school, I had so deeply internalized it that she didn’t need to do anything to motivate me to achieve.  In high school, I cleaned up across the board — not only in math and science, the stereotypically Asian subjects my parents taught, but also in English and social studies.  I had to be the best at everything.  There was no excuse not to be.

In the midst of all this achieving, I also figured out what I wanted to study:  Oddly enough, the recurring refrain of “Why are you like that?  Like, the way you are?” in My So-Called Life, which I watched obsessively in 7th grade, triggered an interest in psychology.  My parents were down with this, because they expected a doctorate degree, and whether it was in medicine or psychology, I would have tangible career options.  So I went off to college as a psych major.  Meanwhile, my Asian American friends swarmed to engineering and premed classes, spending long days in the chem lab or long nights in the computer lab, which they almost universally loathed.  I toiled with them for one semester, taking multivariable calculus and organic chemistry (“to challenge myself,” I said at the time, though in retrospect, I think I just had something to prove) before retiring from all things premed.  For the next 3 years, I looked at my peers with a mix of pity and smugness.  They mindlessly studied what their parents wanted them to study, but I was studying something I actually liked.

I kept this chip on my shoulder for years — until I found myself midway through a PhD program and seriously questioning if I wanted to be there.  I found myself in the very position for which I had judged my peers:  I was pursuing a secure, well-paying career that my parents wanted for me but I wasn’t sure I wanted.  Meanwhile, the people in college I smirked at for their hapless pursuit of stable careers — they were no less happy than I was, but at least they were making great money.  All I was doing was accruing debt.

All of this came to a head 4 years ago, when I started the full-time internship that made up my last year of grad school, and I realized that my worst fears had come true:  I had spent 5 years in school for a career I didn’t want.  I had endured more classes, papers, and exams than I could count; an exhausting master’s thesis and an even more grueling dissertation; countless hours stressing about clinical hours, data analyses, internship applications, and all the other work of grad school.  I was getting my first taste of what my life in this field would be like — a life I spent years doggedly pursuing — and I didn’t like it.

I was also getting my first taste of what many of my peers had been experiencing for years.  Working at a job you hate SUCKS.  Like, REALLY sucks.  Getting up in the morning is terrible, because you’re tired and you don’t want to go to the job you loathe, and then you’re there for 8 hours — the entire time the sun is out — if not longer, and you come home and you’re exhausted and you have no time or energy to do the things you actually want to do.  And you have to do this AGAIN.  And AGAIN.  And AGAIN.  And a respite comes on Friday, if you’re not too tired to enjoy it, and then Sunday comes too quickly and you sink into your weekly funk because you have to repeat the whole cycle AGAIN.  It’s like being in hell.  All I ever thought about that year was my next day off, when I could maybe sneak in a sick day and just sleep….

Meanwhile, the next hoop was being placed in front of me.  Announcements for post-docs started flooding my inbox almost the minute my internship started — post-docs that my peers were applying for, interviewing for, getting.  There was pressure all around me to swim with the current — but could I do it if I was so, you know, unhappy with what I was doing?  Could I really sign up for more of the same?

I started peeling my fingers away, one by one.  I held out for half-time post-docs, which are virtually nonexistent, thinking that maybe I could do what I was trained to do part-time and use the remaining time to pursue something I actually liked.  The few half-time opportunities that materialized fizzled out quickly.  In the end, I was left with a gift:  I did not have a job in my field.  Or any job, for that matter.  I had no choice but to do something else — to maybe figure out what I really wanted to do.  At 28, with a PhD in a field I didn’t want to work in, I was about to embark on the task I should have started 10 years before.


I took a very different tack this time around:  Instead of setting a long-term goal and obstinately staying the course, no matter what data I collected along the way, I would look for jobs that interested me and try them.  If I liked them, I would continue; if not, I would quit.  And I would see what opportunities unfolded that way.  After years of meticulously planning my professional life, this strategy — one that involved working forward and not backward, in which my future would be determined by opportunities that may or may not arise — was terrifying.  But it was also thrilling — like stepping onto a tightrope without a 5-year plan to catch me.  And, well, I had seen how my previous strategy played out.  I didn’t think I could do much worse.

So, new game plan in hand, I started my job hunt.  I got an adjunct professor position at my alma mater; aside from the absurd amounts of prep work and the occasional entitled student, I found that I really enjoyed teaching, and it was a much better fit for me than clinical work.  Then a friend from college asked if I would be interested in working with high school students, which I had done in undergrad and was happy to take up again.  That job also led to some consulting work, which I had never done before but turned out to be right up my alley.  Thus I patched together a professional life, running from meeting to class to meeting — but, in a dramatic change from the previous year, I loved going to work.  Each of my jobs felt meaningful, played to my strengths, and had far more awesome moments than terrible ones.  I finally got a taste for what it was like to do work that was life-giving, and it was fantastic.  On top of that, I found that my satisfaction at work trickled into every other area of my life; after a year of being a zombie, I was happy, well-rested, energetic.  I felt alive again.

Then, a few months ago, we had to move for my husband’s job, and I found myself back at square one.  As wonderful as youth work and teaching were, I didn’t feel a strong need to continue either one.  So back I went to trying-and-seeing.  Two of my professors from grad school offered me a job as a consultant, helping millennials figure out what they want to do with their lives.  Given my experiences, both professional (therapy, assessment, working with students, consulting) and personal (knowing intimately how it felt to end up in the wrong career and to wonder what I was doing with my life), this felt like an excellent fit — and it was, for once, something I could see myself doing long-term.  I had also wanted for years to write more seriously — a desire that I had struggled to acknowledge, fearing that it sounded pretentious, frivolous, or both — and it appeared that I now had time to give that a shot.  But I also needed an income as I built up these lines of work, so I looked for yet another job.  I applied to work at a few independent bookstores, something I had always thought would be fun but never had the chance to try.  One took a chance and hired me, even though I was both incredibly overqualified and incredibly underqualified.  So I find myself splitting my time between three different gigs yet again.

And lo and behold, I am happy, for the same reasons I was in my previous trifecta of employment.  Obviously, the situation isn’t perfect:  I spend every day shifting between very different tasks.  At the moment, I make significantly less than my peers from grad school, who are now licensed psychologists, and pretty much everyone I went to college with.  My resume makes no sense at all.  I’m almost 31, and I’ve made only the slightest headway into a career I want to have.  But for me, all of that pales in comparison to how it feels to be doing work that I actually enjoy.  After years of jumping through hoops because it was all I knew how to do, of achieving for the sake of achieving, I’m finally doing work that I find meaningful.  And it feels pretty awesome.  In a sharp contrast to my previous way of living, I have no idea what my life will look like in 5 years — but I’m content and fulfilled right now, and that feels like a good trade-off.


Now, I’m not saying that what I did is the right thing to do and that every Asian American who’s unhappy with their job should leave it immediately.  I am lucky to have no student loans or house payments or children to support, to have a husband who is entirely supportive and as eager to see me in a job I love as I am, to have parents who had ample warning about this sea change and accepted it with minimal resistance, and on and on and on.  I recognize that some people have children, parental demands, mortgages, and other constraints that keep them from making similar changes — and some have found a way to be content in the midst of less-than-thrilling careers.  I respect that.

But in my case, I felt so dissatisfied with the path I was on that I needed to ask myself some serious questions about the choices I was making — and judging from all the conversations I’ve had in the last 10 years with other Asian Americans about their jobs, I don’t think I’m alone.  I don’t think that pursuing careers that are safe and stable is a bad thing by any means; having a consistent income, health insurance, and resources to live in a safe neighborhood with good schools is nothing to sneeze at.  But I worry that as a community, we hyperfocus on security and stability to the point where we don’t think to explore what could be life-giving and fulfilling for us.  And as a result, a lot of us walk around not very happy with our professional lives — which is to say, for most of our waking hours — and not really knowing how to change that.

I don’t have any easy answers or one-size-fits-all solutions, but I do think we need to spend more time reflecting on our choices, both individually and collectively.  And I wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves more room to explore.  I wonder what kinds of things we would pursue — and how much more fulfilled we could be.


A final thought:  If anything here has resonated with you, I’d like to hear your story, too.  If you left your career, if you decided to stay, if you’re trying to figure that out right now — what has your process been like?  What’s made it hard or easy for you to make your decision?  How will you advise your children, should you choose to have them?  I’m super-curious to hear.