It was amazing to realize that there are still places in America where the residents are not familiar with Asians. These are rural areas where only white people live and city areas with all black population. In Louisville, Kentucky, Asians are rare and far from each other. Gloria met four Filipino families in her residency of eight years.
The image of Filipinos seen on television news of a calamity gave the impression that all Filipinos are destitute. Many Americans she met were not ready for a Filipina in a suit and were resentful that she landed a job on the seventh floor of a corporate center. A man said to her face “You’re taking a job from an American.”
|2000 Ford Focus SE|
Her first car was a 2000 Ford Focus SE which did not have ABS brakes in a state where it snows six inches in winter. After slip and sliding several times, she traded in the Focus for a car with ABS brakes, a 2005 Saturn red coupe, something too sporty for a middle aged immigrant.
While most of the ladies she knew wore rubber shoes to work and changed into formal shoes when they arrive at the office, she wore her stiletto heels from home. An American asked her “Do you drive with that on?” She did not reply but thought, why would she need another pair of shoes to drive with?
She never left the house for anything without eye make-up, never let her gray hair show, styled her hair with curling irons and never went out looking shabby even to the nearest Walmart for groceries. In a conversation with Tiarra, an American friend, she advised the younger woman “You have to look good all the time. You have a responsibility to your fans.”
When she went to an informal gathering wearing a black Nike, a gift from her American husband, Tiarra commented, “I’ve never seen you wear rubber shoes before. I didn’t think you owned one.”
She was surprised when Tiarra started calling her “Diva”. She thought the label meant a singer. She could not carry a tune. The Urban Dictionary defines diva as “to describe a person who exudes great style and personality with confidence and expresses their own style and not letting others influence who they are or want to be. A person whose character makes them stands out from the rest...A person who tries to achieve what they want and who do not let people get in their way, and doing so with style and class.”
Now seeing how Asian women are marginalized in the Midwest, she liked being called a diva. She has left for California. Tiarra is in her Facebook friends list.