Op-Ed: What Asian immigrants, seeking the American dream, found in Southern California suburbs
Sally Hwang, who came to the United States illegally at the age of 15 to escape communist China, is raising her daughter in a California suburban neighborhood.
“In the past few years, we’ve been trying a lot of different places, and the one that worked the best out of the three was the San Fernando Valley, because it was small enough that my daughter would fit in, and in a way that worked for my husband too, because we were both working.”
Hwang’s husband works at Warner Brothers Studios; they have a daughter who is 6 weeks old.
In February, the Hwang’s welcomed their second child into the world.
“My husband is here to stay,” Hwang said, “and he’d like to stay.”
Hwang and her husband are both U.S. citizens, but Hwang’s parents fled China after the country waged an ideological campaign against the political reform movement that came to be known as “liberation.” They fled to Taiwan.
They were met by a neighbor who offered them shelter.
“My parents didn’t want us to move,” Hwang said. “We were in fear of what my parents would think or what we had to do to live with them again.”
A few months later, Hwang’s mother was arrested, detained, and placed in a mental institution.
“All my parents did was try to survive during the Cultural Revolution. They spent their whole life looking for freedom, looking for life, looking for a new world,” Hwang said.
Despite their fears, the family was able to remain in Los Angeles. They lived in an apartment for several months. After that, they took a series of odd jobs to support their daughter.
“In order to get a good education,” Hwang said, “I had to get a ‘real’ job. I had to be reliable, and then work at a ‘real’ job to make money while doing my studies. And to keep the job, I had to work a ‘real’ job too. So it really wasn’t like I was just going to school, I was working,