Being the first generation born to immigrant parents in America is a singular experience for numerous reasons. Immigrants purposely detached themselves from the comforts of a country that housed their history and heritage, as well as their personal upbringing, to be tossed into a foreign land that sang promises of freedom and a home for the brave. However, in America, that song was sung in English, which was unfamiliar to the droves of hopeful humans looking to cash in on those promises, but they would not allow a language barrier to bar them from that.
Imagine a life where your tongue is more venomous than it is valuable. Not only are you disabled, but people fear and loathe the unknown; and to them, your speech is just that. These new Americans did not have to imagine. This may be the reason why many children of immigrants do not speak their parents’ language. As much as these parents value their culture, they did not want to pass down what they experienced to be a handicap.
In the video above, G Yamazawa, a Japanese-American spoken word artist, performs his piece titled “The Bridge,” in which he eloquently explains the struggle of his parents assimilation (or the lack thereof) to the English language, as well as his own struggle of wanting to communicate in his parents’ tongue.
It’s ironic how G can effortlessly mold and maneuver the English language to express both the beauty and burden of it.
Check out his site to see and hear more.