Cover Art: Nam June Paik, Video Flag, 1985-1996. Video monitors, laser disc players, computer, timers, electrical devices, wood and metal housing on rubber wheels. Smithsonian Institution.
My sister Rebecca is born in 1998, on the Fourth of July, in Washington D.C. She will tell everyone
who asks, and anyone who doesn’t, that she has the same birthday as America. That when she was
little, she thought the fireworks after she cut her cake blew bright colors into the night sky just to
celebrate her. Like any older sister, I laugh until her face gets as red as the American flag.
It is only years later that I realize I should instead laugh at the irony of my sister believing this
country loves her so much as to fête her with a fortune blasted into the heavens. When it is merely
fifty-something years since the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which for sixty-something years
prohibited, for the first time in the United States, the immigration of all members of an ethnicity.
Though my sister and I are Americans by citizenship, our mother still only has a green card, and our
father remembers every word of the oath he took months ago, sponsored by his job. When my sister
is born, there has never been an Asian Miss America. History is years behind, but my sister’s
innocent faith in a land of all men created equal is lifetimes ahead.
Madelyn Chen is a senior English major and Film minor at UCLA. She is currently writing her honors thesis as a poetry novella that explores issues of race, class, and culture in her upbringing. Her work has appeared in seminar showcases and Westwind Journal.
past, Raluca Balasa next, Carol Hamilton