Graveyard Shift Human Corpses Are Being Used To Make Modern Products And People Are Actually Buying This Stuff – Weird Darkness
By Lisa A. Flowers for Graveyard Shift
Though it’s no secret that dead bodies were once used in bizarre early medicine practices , not many know that there are quite a few modern products made out of corpses out there, as well. As it turns out, the dead are still an active part of various industries that go way beyond the mortuary world and the “posthumous fame” phenomenon.
Take, for instance, eau de death , the innovative perfume that’s said to be partially distilled from corpse emissions. Or other corpse products like “ occult jam ,” made by London company Bompas & Parr, which is rumored to contain the delectable flavor of the hair of the late Princess Diana. Contemporary medical science has proven that products made out of dead bodies have healing properties. Like cadaver skin, which can be (and frequently is) used to treat burns and ulcers in the form of skin grafts.
We’ve hardly pried the lid off the coffin of commercial, medical, and artistic services the dead can apparently provide. Read on to discover more about contemporary corpse products you might wish you never knew about , when all’s said and done. Human Leather For Those With Refined Tastes Photo: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/New Line Cinema
Forget your elegant buckskin or patent leather. UK company Humanleather.com is one up on both of the above. As the organization’s official website rather snootily puts it, “Just like animal leather products produced from lesser animals, our raw human skin is transformed into the finest grade leather by using a traditional tanning process. However, human leather is the finest grain leather that is obtainable. It is free from defects and has the smallest grain size, which makes it the smoothest, softest leather on earth.”
The company obtains their materials from “People who have bequeathed their skins to us prior to their deaths.” Moreover, they hasten to assure buyers that the process is completely legal, not to mention ultra-discriminating (“we’ve had to turn away some potential donors, as we can accept only the highest quality human skin.”). Whose skin is anyone’s guess, as they can’t legally disclose who donated their hide to the cause. (It’s safe to assume that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre ‘s Leatherface isn’t an authorized supplier, though). Perfume Made From Chemicals Emitted By Corpses Photo: Reactions / YouTube
Shows like The Walking Dead introduced us to myriad creative ways of warding off the deceased (smearing corpse-guts on oneself to mask one’s scent, for example). But Eau de Death cologne represents a far more revolutionary approach than that. This intriguing concept comes to us from chemist Raychelle Burks of Doane College in Nebraska.
According to Burks , “If we’re really trying to mimic a corpse, we have got to get the smell down to perfection. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig that spritzes on the death cologne and realizes it doesn’t’ quite work.”
As Burk explains, “putrescine and cadaverine are the main ingredients, which are emitted early on in the decaying process. Both organic chemical compound are produced by the breakdown of amino acids in living and dead organisms and are toxic in large doses. They are largely responsible for the foul odor of putrefying flesh, but also contribute to bad breath, and can be found in semen. Methanethiol, which smells like rotten eggs, is also added to the ‘perfume’ to create its offensive bouquet.”
Just call it six degrees (read: six feet) of separation between corpses, semen, and bad breath. Cosmetics Made From The Corpses Of Executed Chinese Prisoners Photo: Night Of The Demons(2009)/ Entertainment One
As it turns out, the fountain of youth may actually spring from the dead. According to the Guardian , a Chinese company is developing cosmetic products … made from the corpses of deceased/executed prisoners … to market in Europe. In other words, your next collagen treatment, facial filler, or lip-pumping injection just might be composed of corpse-fat.
Though this news has incited a predictable outcry, the firm’s agents insist that only “some” of the company’s products have been exported to the UK, and that the whole thing is nothing to “make such a big fuss about,” anyway. After all, beauty is pain, as the old saying goes, so perhaps dead body ingredients are just par for the corpse. Jam Made From Princess Diana’s Hair Photo: Bompas And Parr
London-based company Bompas and Parr might be “globally recognized as the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design,” as their website states , but they’re also apparently pioneers in the imaginative use of corpse-hair. In 2010, the company manufactured something called “Occult Jam,” which supposedly contained a few strands of the late Princess Diana’s hair.
No, the tresses didn’t come off the Princess’s corpse. Co-founder Sam Bompas claims to have acquired them on e-Bay. Nevertheless, as CNN puts it , “what started out as art itself has become a product with a lot of major retailers.” Cadaver Skin As A Treatment For Burns And Ulcers Photo: Eyes Without A Face/Rialto Pictures
A dead person doesn’t need their skin anymore, so why not donate it to those who do? That’s the logic that bioengineers at the University of Manchester are employing, anyway. And interestingly, they’ve found that skin taken from cadavers is actually more effective at healing wounds than living tissue is. Corpse-flesh (once it’s been de-contaminated by antibiotics, that is) is also specifically beneficial as a remedy for burns and ulcers.
As head researcher Ardeshir Bayat explains, the living body is akin to “an empty shell of a house without furniture that is easier to populate then building a house from scratch. In the same way, decellularized dermis provides a scaffold that the body can try to populate with its own cells.”
Finally, a way to break out of the holding-cell of death. Cured Meat Made From The Skin Of Celebrities Photo: Night of the Living Dead/New Line
It’s been said that Hollywood is a meat market that chews up ingenues and spits them out. But macabre start-up BiteLabs is taking said cynicism to a whole new level. In 2014, the organization attempted (unsuccessfully) to convince certain celebrities to donate tissue samples that the company could process into “specialty meats.” (No, it doesn’t involve said movie stars being dead, but meat itself is dead. So close enough, yes?).
The website delineates the process: “Isolating muscle stem cells, we grow celebrity meat in our proprietary bioreactors. In the tradition of Italian cured meats, we dry, age, and spice our product into fine charcuterie.”
Though company spokespeople insist that this is not a hoax , they obviously have wicked senses of humor. Of their proposed James Franco salami, for example, they say: “[It] must be smoky, sexy, and smooth … sharp Tellicherry peppercorns and caramelized onions provide Franco’s underlying flavors, complemented by a charming hint of lavender. The Franco salami’s taste will be arrogant, distinctive, and completely undeniable.”
Touché Photo: The Blob/ TriStar Pictures
Gelatin, it turns out, is a hugely popular ingredient in the culinary world … a fact that doesn’t sit well with those who disapprove of animal products. But a few researchers at Beijing University’s College of Life Science and Technology have a controversial idea that might, if not satisfy, at least confuse vegans around the world. According to Engadget, they are pioneering a Soylent Green-type method for revolutionizing gelatin production. The plan? To take “human genes [and insert them] into a strain of yeast [producing] gelatin with controllable features.”
The word “features” definitely conjures up disturbing images of eyes or noses solidified in Cherry Jell-O. Another purpose of the new method is to “reduce the risk of diseases like Mad Cow, which may be present in the bones and cartilage that gelatin is made of.” Who knew? Diamonds Made From A Loved One’s Human Cremains Photo: LifeGem
The idea of diamonds made from the cremains of loved ones is actually rather lovely and poetic, when you think about it. (Or infinitely more soothing than the vision of an embalmed corpse slowly rotting underground, anyway). And the Chicago-area based LifeGem is only one of the companies offering this innovative service. According to their website,
“From just 8 ounces (200 grams) of cremated remains, we can extract enough carbon to make multiple diamonds…typically all the diamonds that a family wants. We store any unused carbon free for the family after their order is completed. This is great protection in case their LifeGem diamonds are ever lost or stolen.”
A novel idea, and one with many variations. The Arlington, Vermont, based company Cremation Solutions also offers crystals that resemble “peridot, citrine, aquamarine, onyx, jade and chocolate diamonds.” The Human Skin Art Of Andrew Krasnow Photo: Andrew Krasnow
He may not be as creative as Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, but US artist Andrew Krasnow is nonetheless making a splash with his human skin art and sculptures, which he’s been crafting for 20 years. In 2009, Krasnow had his first exhibit in London’s GV Art Gallery. According to the artist , all of his skins are gleaned from bodies that have been donated to medical science; and his work – far from being mere shock art – is intended to be “a commentary on human cruelty.” The Human Body Parts Family Photo Albums Of Linda Jones Photo: Web Urbanist
In a way, using bits and pieces of actual bodies in photo albums makes perfect sense. After all, people do routinely save their children’s baby teeth and paste locks of hair into scrapbooks. That’s the logic Vermont-based artist Linda Jones applies to her abstract art pieces. An exhibit at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery reportedly included “x-rays, stitches from real surgical procedures [and] even human teeth, hair, and flesh preserved in formaldehyde.”
However, the work is not intended to be Frankenstein-grotesque but, rather, deeply personal. Jones claims that said medical waste is “from procedures treating her and her family,” and adds that “injuries and sickness are major events that affect people in profound ways.” All of which is true enough. Headdresses Made From The Hair Of The Dead Photo: The Ring(2002)/ DreamWorks Pictures
In China, corpse-hair isn’t just a novelty, it’s tradition. Rumor has it that the Miao people from the village of Suojia in Liupanshui City in the Guizhou province regularly don wigs fashioned from the hair of the dead. As the Daily Mail explains it , “every wig is passed down from mother to daughter, and includes not just yarn and twine but also the hair from a line of female ancestors, which the owners of the headdresses claim go back hundreds of years.”
Said hair is apparently routinely harvested from combing and brushing. Though, since it technically comes from a person who was alive at the time they donated it, calling it “corpse hair” might be a bit of a stretch. Though, if we’re getting even more technical, isn’t all hair “dead”?
Bette Midler calls Melania Trump ‘FLOTITS’ in Twitter dig
Bette Midler is known to speak freely when it comes to talking politics on Twitter . She has carved out a place for herself on the president’s go-to social media platform as a fierce political heckler, and her latest tweet targeting Melania Trump might be her harshest dig yet. The actress and singer posted a photo on Wednesday of the now first lady from an infamous British GQ shoot . In this particular image from 2000, Melania Trump is posing over the pilot seats in the cockpit of her husband’s private jet, wearing a futuristic outfit consisting of a barely there transparent chain-link dress and metal headpiece.
The dry cleaning bill for the upholstery on Air Force One must be insane. #FLOTITS pic.twitter.com/oI4yHfeX2O
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) November 14, 2018
Midler’s condescending caption included the hashtag #FLOTITS, commenting on Trump’s mostly exposed breasts, quipping “the dry cleaning bill for upholstery on Air Force One must be insane.”
Commenters are not happy with Midler’s joke, calling her “crass,” “jealous” and “desperate.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Desperate Miss M. #TDS #classless #jelly
— MCVAY RIGGANS (@McvayRiggans) November 15, 2018
What a crass and inelegant remark. Perhaps upbringing is harder to overcome than previously thought. Money hasnt bought you class, Betty
— Lisa Shive (@momisme3) November 15, 2018
Get out of the bitter barn.
— Boo You (@CenterMichele) November 15, 2018
Sad. You should try to live by your own standards.
— S Kawane (@ShannonKawane) November 15, 2018
She’s Hot! You’re Not!
— Stiener (@Stiener12) November 15, 2018
Others are criticizing her for taking down another woman.
They all talk about women rights and power and being strong but then want to bring down women that are not brainwashed like them.
— Katherina G (@kathelinafit) November 15, 2018
I love you and loathe that whole family but no. Just no. Pick apart her dangerous actions, not her body/use thereof.
Women deserve better than this.
— Mombi (@MaynanMombi) November 15, 2018
Snarky women are never pretty
— JC (@conservogirl) November 15, 2018
This what look like when leftist can’t argue, they go so low …pretending to champion women’s rights ..but don’t care to ruin and malign every women who does not agree with them ..
— лани дела крус рамсе (@LaniDelacruz6) November 15, 2018
Woman lift each other up. I just lost all respect for you.
— Donna Marcotte (@Donna_Marcotte) November 15, 2018
Some are even renouncing their loyalty to the beloved Broadway legend.
What a shame! U were 1 of my favorite actresses & singers growing up! My mother would listen2 your songs all day & that is where I got my love for4u! My children also fell in love with yr music! 1of their favorite movies was HocusPocus! u just hurt alot of people that loved U!
— Tammy g growell (@TammyGCrowell) November 15, 2018
I am such a big fan for decades of your various entertainment talents.
Please take the high road, don’t sink to mud slinging at undeserved targets.
You are better than a tweet at FLOTUS.
Is Baron next?
Its fine if you Tweet your views at POTUS all night & day. #smh
— RodBenderz (@d1hoops) November 15, 2018
Shame in you, I find it so sad, you were one of my heroes growing up and to see this on your Twitter feed actually makes me feel ill. While I was never a fan of Michelle Obama I will always respect her as flotus. Shame on you
— FranMorgan (@FranMor46688646) November 15, 2018
A few have pointed out the hypocrisy of Midler’s tweet because she has posed provocatively herself.
It was cool when you did it though? pic.twitter.com/XPDds3cixF
— MLH ♥️ (@just_mindy) November 15, 2018
There are still a handful of fans who are on her side.
Ignore the haters. You are amazing and very loved!
— hollyguacamole (@caboberyn) November 15, 2018
Love your humor!!
— Deb Stevens (@DebStev44639687) November 15, 2018
#FLOTITS made my day.
— Mike Podman (@PodmanMike) November 15, 2018
— CParks (@sunrainsunrain) November 15, 2018
But mostly it seems the joke has backfired because people are now viewing Midler as the one without class.
Really ? Class it up please
— murphandcompany (@murphandcompany) November 15, 2018
Then there’s the one who just wants to understand the outfit entirely.
Bette I do agree with you. Question though, what is this. Was she wearing her computer
— laurena (@laurena75779757) November 15, 2018
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
Sarah Jessica Parker Has a Classy Response to Bette Midler’s Comments About Her ‘Hocus Pocus’ Performance If you struggle with eczema, here are 15 beauty products that will soothe your skin Woman Who Scratches Her Eczema With Scissors Should Probably Do This Instead Follow us on Instagram , Facebook , and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.
—Watch the latest videos from Yahoo—
I Love America. That’s Why I Have to Tell the Truth About It
Immigration I Love America. That’s Why I Have to Tell the Truth About It The Nguyen family, in the early 1980s in San Jose, Calif., where his parents owned the New Saigon Mini Market Photographs Courtesy Viet Thanh Nguyen November 15, 2018 IDEAS Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards.
Love it or leave it. Have you heard someone say this? Or have you said it? Anyone who has heard these five words knows what it means, because it almost always refers to America. Anyone who has heard this sentence knows it is a loaded gun, pointed at them.
As for those who say this sentence, do you mean it with gentleness, with empathy, with sarcasm, with satire, with any kind of humor that is not ill humored? Or is the sentence always said with very clear menace?
I ask out of genuine curiosity, because I have never said this sentence myself, in reference to any country or place. I have never said “love it or leave it” to my son, and I hope I never will, because that is not the kind of love I want to feel, for him or for my country, whichever country that might be.
The country in which I am writing these words is France, which is not my country but which colonized Vietnam, where I was born, for two-thirds of a century. French rule ended only 17 years before my birth. My parents and their parents never knew anything but French colonialism. Perhaps because of this history, part of me loves France, a love that is due, in some measure, to having been mentally colonized by France.
Aware of my colonization, I do not love France the way many Americans love France, the ones who dream of the Eiffel Tower, of sipping coffee at Les Deux Magots, of eating a fine meal in Provence. This is a romantic love, set to accordion music or Édith Piaf, which I feel only fleetingly. I cannot help but see colonialism’s legacies, visible throughout Paris if one wishes to see them: the people of African and Arab origins who are here because France was there in their countries of birth. Romanticizing their existence, oftentimes at the margins of French society, would be difficult, which is why Americans rarely talk about them as part of the fantasy of Paris.
The fantasy is tempting, especially because of my Vietnamese history. Most of the French of Vietnamese origins I know are content, even if they are aware of their colonized history. Why wouldn’t they be? A Moroccan friend in Paris points to the skin I share with these French of Vietnamese ancestry and says, “You are white here.” But I am not white in America, or not yet. I was made in America but born in Vietnam, and my origins are inseparable from three wars: the one the Vietnamese fought against the French; the one the Vietnamese fought against each other; and the one the U.S. fought in Vietnam.
Many Americans consider the war to be a noble, if possibly flawed, example of American good intentions. And while there is some truth to that, it was also simply a continuation of French colonization, a war that was racist and imperialist at its roots and in its practices. As such, this war was just one manifestation of a centuries-long expansion of the American empire that began from its own colonial birth and ran through the frontier, the American West, Mexico, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and now the Middle East.
One war might be a mistake. A long series of wars is a pattern. Indians were the original terrorists in the American imagination. The genocide committed against them by white settlers is Thanksgiving’s ugly side, not quite remembered but not really forgotten, even in France, where images of a half-naked Native American in a feathered headdress can also be found. Centuries later, the latent memory of genocide — or the celebration of conquest — would surface when American GIs called hostile Vietnamese territory “Indian country.” Now Muslims are the new gooks while terrorists are the new communists, since communists are no longer very threatening and every society needs an Other to define its boundaries and funnel its fears. The Nguyen family, in the early 1980s in San Jose, Calif., where his parents owned the New Saigon Mini Market Photographs Courtesy Viet Thanh Nguyen
Many Americans do not like to hear these things. An American veteran of the war, an enlisted man, wrote me in rage after reading an essay of mine on the scars that Vietnamese refugees carried. Americans had sacrificed themselves for my country, my family, me, he said. I should be grateful. When I wrote him back and said he was the only one hurt by his rage, he wrote back with an even angrier letter. Another American veteran, a former officer, now a dentist and doctor, read my novel The Sympathizer and sent me a letter more measured in tone but with a message just as blunt. You seem to love the communists so much, he said. Why don’t you go back to Vietnam? And take your son with you.
I was weary and did not write back to him. I should have. I would have pointed out that he must not have finished my novel, since the last quarter indicts communism’s failures in Vietnam. Perhaps he never made it past being offended by the first quarter of the novel, which condemns America’s war in Vietnam. Perhaps he never made it to the middle of the novel, by which point I was also satirizing the failures of the government under which I was born, the Republic of Vietnam, the south.
I made such criticisms not because I hated all the countries that I have known but because I love them. My love for my countries is difficult because their histories, like those of all countries, are complicated. Every country believes in its own best self and from these visions has built beautiful cultures, France included. And yet every country is also soiled in the blood of conquest and violence, Vietnam included. If we love our countries, we owe it to them not just to flatter them but to tell the truth about them in all their beauty and their brutality, America included.
If I had written that letter, I would have asked this dentist and doctor why he had to threaten my son, who was born in America. His citizenship is natural, which is as good as the citizenship of the dentist, the doctor and the veteran. And yet even my son is told to love it or leave it. Is such a telling American? Yes. And no. “Love it or leave it” is completely American and yet un-American at the same time, just like me.
Unlike my son, I had to become naturalized. Did I love America at the time of my naturalization? It is hard to say, because I had never said “I love you” to anyone, my parents included, much less a country. But I still wanted to swear my oath of citizenship to America as an adolescent. At the same time, I wanted to keep my Vietnamese name. I had tried various American names on for size. All felt unnatural. Only the name my parents gave me felt natural, possibly because my father never ceased telling me, “You are 100% Vietnamese.”
By keeping my name, I could be made into an American but not forget that I was born in Vietnam. Paradoxically, I also believed that by keeping my name, I was making a commitment to America. Not the America of those who say “love it or leave it,” but to my America, to an America that I would force to say my name, rather than to an America that would force a name on me.
Naming my own son was then a challenge. I wanted an American name for him that expressed the complexities of our America. I chose Ellison, after the great writer Ralph Waldo Ellison, himself named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great philosopher. My son’s genealogy would be black and white, literary and philosophical, African American and American. This genealogy gestures at the greatness of America and the horror of it as well, the democracy as well as the slavery. Some Americans like to believe that the greatness has succeeded the horror, but to me, the greatness and the horror exist simultaneously, as they have from the very beginning of our American history and perhaps to its end. A name like Ellison compresses the beauty and the brutality of America into seven letters, a summation of despair and hope. Nguyen with his mother in Vietnam, before they left for the U.S Photographs Courtesy Viet Thanh Nguyen
This is a heavy burden to lay on one’s son, although it is no heavier than the burden placed on me by my parents. My first name is that of the Vietnamese people, whose patriotic mythology says we have suffered for centuries to be independent and free. And yet today Vietnam, while being independent, is hardly free. I could never go back to Vietnam for good, because I could never be a writer there and say the things I say without being sent to prison.
So I choose the freedom of America, even at a time when “love it or leave it” is no longer just rhetorical. The current Administration is threatening even naturalized citizens with denaturalization and deportation. Perhaps it is not so far-fetched to imagine that one day someone like me, born in Vietnam, might be sent back to Vietnam, despite having made more out of myself than many native-born Americans. If so, I would not take my son with me. Vietnam is not his country. America is his country, and perhaps he will know for it a love that will be less complicated and more intuitive than mine.
He will also — I hope — know a father’s love that is less complicated than mine. I never said “I love you” when I was growing up because my parents never said “I love you” to me. That does not mean they did not love me. They loved me so much that they worked themselves to exhaustion in their new America. I hardly ever got to see them. When I did, they were too tired to be joyful. Still, no matter how weary they were, they always made dinner, even if dinner was often just boiled organ meat. I grew up on intestine, tongue, tripe, liver, gizzard and heart. But I was never hungry.
The memory of that visceral love, expressed in sacrifice, is in the marrow of my bones. A word or a tone can make me feel the deepness of that love, as happened to me when I overheard a conversation one day in my neighborhood drugstore in Los Angeles. The man next to me was Asian, not handsome, plainly dressed. He spoke southern Vietnamese on his cell phone. “Con oi, Ba day. Con an com chua?” He looked a little rough, perhaps working class. But when he spoke to his child in Vietnamese, his voice was very tender. What he said cannot be translated. It can only be felt.
Literally, he said, “Hello, child. This is your father. Have you eaten rice yet?” That means nothing in English, but in Vietnamese it means everything. “Con oi, Ba day. Con an com chua?” This is how hosts greet guests who come to the home, by asking them if they have eaten. This was how parents, who would never say “I love you,” told their children they loved them. I grew up with these customs, these emotions, these intimacies, and when I heard this man say this to his child, I almost cried. This is how I know that I am still Vietnamese, because my history is in my blood and my culture is my umbilical cord. Even if my Vietnamese is imperfect, which it is, I am still connected to Vietnam and to Vietnamese refugees worldwide.
And yet, when I was growing up, some Vietnamese Americans would tell me I was not really Vietnamese because I did not speak perfect Vietnamese. Such a statement is a cousin of “love it or leave it.” But there should be many ways of being Vietnamese, just as there are many ways of being French, many ways of being American. For me, as long as I feel Vietnamese, as long as Vietnamese things move me, I am still Vietnamese. That is how I feel the love of country for Vietnam, which is one of my countries, and that is how I feel my Vietnamese self.
In claiming that defiant Vietnamese self, one that disregards anyone else’s definition, I claim my American self too. Against all those who say “love it or leave it,” who offer only one way to be American, I insist on the America that allows me to be Vietnamese and is enriched by the love of others. So it is that every day I ask my son if he has eaten yet and every day I tell my son I love him. This is how love of country and love of family do not differ. I want to create a family where I will never say “love it or leave it” to my son, just as I want a country that will never say the same to anyone.
Most Americans will not feel what I feel when they hear the Vietnamese language, but they feel the love of country in their own ways. Perhaps they feel that deep, emotional love when they see the flag or hear the national anthem. I admit that those symbols mean little to me, because they divide as much as unify. Too many people, from the highest office in the land down, have used those symbols to essentially tell all Americans to love it or leave it.
Being immune to the flag and the anthem does not make me less American than those who love those symbols. Is it not more important that I love the substance behind those symbols rather than the symbols themselves? The principles. Democracy, equality, justice, hope, peace and especially freedom, the freedom to write and to think whatever I want, even if my freedoms and the beauty of those principles have all been nurtured by the blood of genocide, slavery, conquest, colonization, imperial war, forever war. All of that is America, our beautiful and brutal America. Nguyen as a child in Ban Me Thuot, circa 1974 Photographs Courtesy Viet Thanh Nguyen
I did not understand the contradiction that was our America during my youth in San Jose, Calif., in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then I only wanted to be American in the simplest way possible, partly in resistance against my father’s demand that I be 100% Vietnamese. My father felt that deep love for his country because he had lost it when we fled Vietnam as refugees in 1975. If my parents held on to their Vietnamese identity and culture fiercely, it was only because they wanted their country back, a sentiment that many Americans would surely understand.
Then the U.S. re-established relations with Vietnam in 1994, and my parents took the first opportunity to go home. They went twice, without me, to visit a country that was just emerging from postwar poverty and desperation. Whatever they saw in their homeland, it affected my father deeply. After the second trip, my parents never again returned to Vietnam. Instead, over the next Thanksgiving dinner, my father said, “We’re Americans now.”
At last, my father had claimed America. I should have been elated, and part of me was as we sat before our exotic meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, which my brother had bought from a supermarket because no one in my family knew how to cook these specialties that we ate only once a year. But if I also felt uneasy, it was because I could not help but wonder: Which America was it? Contact us at .
This appears in the November 26, 2018 issue of TIME. IDEAS TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors. SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT Read More Sign Up for Our Newsletters Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know now on politics, health, money and more