It is natural for a child to seek acceptance and approval in everything they do from their parents. Parents are a child's first and major influences in their lives but if a child doesn't receive it from whom they deem the most important then it would be natural that they would seek it elsewhere.
Lac Su, author of the memoir I Love Yous are for White People, sat alone on the stage of the Main Theater and shared quietly and candidly about his life as a Vietnamese refugee seeking love and belonging in his volatile home and surrounding Los Angeles neighborhoods. He is a survivor of things so horrifying that just recounting some of those experiences made my heart ache for him.
Violence marks Su's relationship with his father throughout this haunting memoir, a man who thinks nothing of beating his wife and children into complete submission. Sick and often unemployed, Su's father is determined that education will save his children from a life of welfare and food stamps. "You're experiencing the one thing I've wanted my entire life - a free education," he tells Su on the first day of school. School is the least of Su's worries. He cannot reveal the sexual abuse he suffers for fear that telling his father about his much-older cousin Crazy's advances will land his father in jail, as surely his father will immediately murder Crazy. He resorts to stealing money from his parents in order to fund the video game obsession of a neighborhood boy he hopes to befriend. He weeps in grave apology when he recognizes his father in himself after he beats his own younger sister. He repeatedly risks his father's wrath for the camaraderie he shares with the drug-and-alcohol-fueled members of the Street Ratz gang.
Desperate for his father's approval, Su dares to voice his love for him. His father's reaction when Su utters the three unforgivable words ironically gives Su his title.
Ironically, words are what ultimately save...