With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where my favorite summer activities included chasing after ice cream trucks and watching fireworks light up the night sky. I loved to lose myself, mesmerized by an ever-changing kaleidoscope. This was my childhood America—bright, carefree and so full of joy.
I left LA for the Bay Area to attend college and start my career teaching kids in public schools. Serving the community was an important way for me to give back. My parents had immigrated here for the promise of a better future. I wanted to mirror that intention and provide the same for others. After all, wasn’t this part of America, the land of opportunities?
Last night, I opened the window to let in the cool summer breeze. I could hear some kids outside laughing and playing games. “China!! China!! China!! BOOOOO!!!”—Wait … am I hearing this right? Yes. This is also my reality in America, a country built in part on discrimination and racism, an extraordinary country tainted by ignorance and complicity.
What makes America special is right now. I set down the kaleidoscope, no longer needing it to imagine America’s beauty. I can see this country as it is, without distortion. People are standing together to help this country become what it was always meant to be, for everyone, free.
Linda Li of Redwood City is a teacher whose parents came to the United States from China by way of Vietnam.