Caroline believes her community has a role to play in the worsening crisis. For her, a lot of Asian Americans have adopted a vindictive outlook – particularly with reference to the way elders are treated in their native circles. It’s an attitude she intends to challenge at every opportunity.
“In some ways, we’re guilty as well. We tend to be very judgmental and racist, even amongst ourselves,” she concedes. “It’s about projection – the things you hate about yourself you attach to others. Because our grandmothers and great-grandmothers didn’t speak English, a lot of people didn’t regard them. It’s odd that our culture reaffirms this idea of valuing seniors, but in reality, I don’t think we do. We don’t listen to their opinions. It’s a very superficial level of respect, right down to their care and needs. They’re treated like kids.
“Ignorance can be bliss, and well-intentioned. What baffles me is that we don’t believe they can handle it, which is ironic when you consider what they went through!”
Without question, old age can mean infirmity, but it also solidifies wisdom. Insight is an invaluable tool, and in more ways than one, it’s a form of strength unto itself.
“I started documenting this piece of history because I needed to show them as dissimilar to how they’re stereotypically perceived – stoical, fragile, feeble. This was about the reverse.”
Personifying the nature of these seniors, Caroline Tran’s snapshots reveal hidden tenacities. In spite of incalculable odds, here are people who’ve learned to laugh again. Cheeks may be streaked and damp, but this time, there’s a difference. There, deep in the eyes, the fear has gone.