In the book “I Love Yous Are for White People” Lac’s quest for acceptance takes him through an intense journey to acquire self love and acceptance. The author Lac Su navigates through his childhood and adolescence seeking an extraordinary desire for love, acceptance and belonging he has been deprived from by his family. During his journey, Lac attempts to gain acceptance by friends and family, no matter what the consequences are. Lac Su’s upbringing was without much love and nurturing. His father was abusive, physically and mentally.
For seemingly menial issues Lac would get a beating, one of those examples would be when he would get homework answers wrong. His father would grab anything that he could get his hands on to beat him. Lac stated that his father would grab “the plastic rod from the mini blinds, a spatula, a rice bowl, a fishing rod, my notebook, a radio antenna, a wooden yard stick, and a broom handle before settling on an extension cord as his weapon of choice. ” (p62). Lac clearly was beaten often; his home life did not include any love, rather physical assaults and degradation. The impact of the blows grow dull and impersonal; I feel less of each new layer he adds to the wounds. ” (113) Due to the horrid amount of beatings Lac Su would have to endure, he created a surreal world when it came to his home life. He learned to cope with the pain and impersonalize it in order for him to make it through the mental and physical abuses. Lac really had no other way to cope with the abuse besides impersonalizing it. He disassociated himself from his pain both physically and internally due to the psychological absence from his family.
Being a human being and needing some sort of approval, he sought after the love and attention he desperately craved for outside of his home. Outside of his home, Lac was able to exercise his other faculties which eventually made him feel more human, more loved and accepted.. He compensated the lack of feeling numb; therefore, he took the necessary consequences to feel more alive. Trying to gain a friend was one way to fulfill Lac’s need for acceptance and love. Lac’s desperate desire for a friend had him take drastic measures such as stealing.
He would steal money from his parents’ piggy bank even though he knew that they were financially struggling. He was isolated from his family and the real world; therefore, he attempted to buy his way into a relationship: “I think I’m almost there. Last week, Javi brought me over to his house to show me his basketball card collection. His mother even made me a bean burrito and homemade horchata. I’m also hanging out with him at school every day. Javi lets me cut in line at lunch, and he always picks me to be on his team when we play socco – and his team always wins.
After a long cold winter of solitude it feels like things are warming up – it feels like I belong. ” (108) The acceptance of Lac from Javi gave Lac a sense of belonging. He felt belonging when he would be picked by Javi to be on his team and also due to Javi hanging out with Lac at school. Before Javi, Lac had no friends at all to hang out with, he felt like a looser. Javi provided Lac with his friendship; however, this came at a price. Lac could care less. “When I have money, we’re playing Spy Hunter. I don’t mind because Javi’s reliance on my money gives the impression that we’re tight. (94) The sense of belonging even if it pertained to Lac’s money was much more than the lack of love and respect Lac was receiving at home. To Lac the only important thing was gaining a friend who somehow portrayed a sense love and belonging. In this case, Javi would hang out with Lac at school, take Lac to his house, pick him to be on his team all in return for Lac’s funding of his games. Lac also made friends with a boy whose street name is Frog. Frogs older brothers are in a gang called the Kingsley Street Gang.
The Kingsley Street Gang intimidates Lac; however, their acknowledgement of Lac makes him feel accepted. Despite my insecurity, nothing bad ever happens to me when I’m around them, except for the occasional racist jokes aimed in my direction. But even the teasing makes me feel accepted. ” (85) Lac’s insecurities came from not being able to adapt with the American norms. His family did not help him to adapt; instead, they made him feel isolated by not being there for him. His father did not validate Lac which caused Lac to have to deal with his insecurities on his own. Lac knows that the Kingsley Street Gang boys are intimidating for numerous reasons.
Their tattoos, their macho ttitude and outfits; however, even being around these people does not stop Lac to be friends with them due to their acknowledgement of Lac. Since Lac was unable to get the acceptance of his father, he finds a substitute in the Kingsley Street Boys. Their acknowledgement gives Lac a sense of acceptance, love and fulfills some of his desires. The reason he also likes hanging out with the Kingsley Street Gang is because of some form of protection Lac is trying to have. The Kingsley Street Gang is consisted of boys who look tough and act as if they are not scared of anything; they somewhat resemble Lac’s father.
Lac could be seeking protection from these boys in the gang due to the physical and mental abuse he has to go through on a daily bases. In some ways these boys gave Lac the opportunity to feel accepted; however, Lac was never able to open up to these boys and have a close relationship with them. This was because they did not have many commonalities culturally. They did not understand where Lac was coming from, instead of being there for him; they would make racist jokes due to not understanding what Lac was really going through. “I can’t believe it; Dragon Head is actually talking to me.
He is approaching me because of the one thing I’ve never done in public—speak Vietnamese. ” (139) Dragon Head is a leader of a gang called the Street Ratz. Lac immediately bonded with Dragon Head due to their similarities. They both are Vietnamese, speak the language and have the same background. It was only natural that Lac would try to be a part of the Street Ratz due to the commonalities he had with them and for the acceptance he desperately was searching for. “The Street Ratz have treated me like family, even though I’m not a member of their graffiti gang. It’s comforting to have peers with the same interests. (156)
The Street Ratz understood where Lac was coming from culturally; therefore, the way they interacted with Lac was more common to Lac and this made him fit in. In some ways they knew what his family life was like and they too sought after love and acceptance, and the way they found it was by from forming a gang and being there for each other. Due to their commonalities the bond Lac shared with boys especially with Dragon Head was very strong. “I don’t even know where to begin telling Dragon Head what keeps me up at night. But I sense he understands me anyways. (162)
Both Dragon Head and Lac understood each other clearly, no words needed to be said. They both were going through similar issues. Through the Street Ratz Lac was able to escape his physical and mental abuse. He felt like that for once he truly fits in and that others understand where he is coming from. This also came at a price, the Street Ratz had bad reputations. For the acceptance, Lac was battling between being a part of the gang or doing the right thing and getting out. He was unable to escape from the love and acceptances the Street Ratz were providing him with.
This was the reason Lac was involved in a few vile crimes which he was unable to get out of due to his emotional connection and acceptance from the Street Ratz. Not only did Lac try to seek acceptance outside of his home but also, he tried to be accepted by his father. “The real poverty is inside my house – where I go to bed hungry most nights, where I’m starved for affection, and where my father’s unpredictable anger has us walking on eggshells. ” (81) The lack of affection from Lac’s father was making Lac crave it even more.
He needed the assurance of his father, the love and affection from him; however, he never got it. Instead he would get beatings due to his father’s unstable stage of mind and his unawareness on how to be a father. “I don’t know quite what being smart is in his eyes, but I want to be that for him. ”(62) Lac clearly tried to be exactly what his father wanted him to be. Being abused by his father clearly had nothing to do with what Lac was doing. He tried to be a good boy, he tried because he wanted to fulfill the emptiness he was feeling due to the lack of emotional connection he had with his father.
Lacs father’s physical and mental abuse was the root cause of Lac’s low self esteem and for his desire to belong and to be accepted by others. If Lac would have received the affection he deserved as a child, his intense journey to acquire self love and acceptance would not have led him to befriend people who were bad influences in his life. Lac would have thrived in school and in life without having to make painful mistakes. Like many abused children, Lac Su may live his life always trying to please others for acceptance and love which he was lacking in his childhood.
Courtney from Study Moose
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