Windows 2021

Exhibition at Slice of Life Gallery in Vancouver, BC June 2022

Covid 19 has not affected us equally 

Come look, come see. This is a window we present to you. A window into an experience you may or may not have seen or felt before. If you do not know the truth we are to show you, we urge you to choose to open up your perspective and peek into another experience. Climb into this window for the moment we can now hold together. Feel what it is you must. We appreciate you being here.

Welcome to Windows 2021

“Knowing comes at a price, ignorance is more expensive.” Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde, “What we Owe”.  This quote was given to me at a time that I could relate it to my experience working in the restaurant industry during COVID-19 pandemic. What I heard from these words is that ignorance isn’t bliss, it is violent and disrespectful to the people who carry the weight of your own choice to be blinded to the truth.

I have been working in the restaurant industry for almost ten years of my life now and since the beginning it has not been easy. Working as a young Kurdish woman in places of work that are predominantly white is very draining. Everyday I thought about quitting but knew that there was no way I could, being in the financial state I was in. This experience pushed me into being a person I didn’t like and couldn’t recognize. I was angry and resentful, I felt as though people only saw me for my job; one who gives service. It was demeaning hearing what customers would say to myself and Molly. How could we be happy at a time when the wealthy came in and would act as if the restrictions did not apply to them. How could I be happy when we have to hold our heads high and bite our tongues and take all of the nasty words said to us? 

The Shoe is more than a restaurant, it's a home. I was born and raised in that kitchen, ran around those tables as a child, cried in those washrooms as a teenager, and now get to appreciate all that it has given to me as an adult. I still hold all of what we had to endure within my body now and can’t wait to keep growing and one day accept and release it all. The walls, the floors, the decor, and the food come from people whose homes are across seas and on mountains. Remember that- the next time you don’t want an “Asian person to be cooking our food.” 

Lots of Love, Sierra

During this pandemic, I experienced a feeling of jealousy I’d never felt before. Growing up, my mom would always teach me that jealousy is one of the most dangerous feelings that we are capable of.

I started in the restaurant industry the winter before the lockdown. The difference between income and even the way people treated me before and after the lockdown was noticeable. I worked hard hours serving in a predominantly wealthy white neighborhood. Every day I would wake up to go to work and watch these people eat as if there was not a pandemic happening. I would swallow my pride every time someone asked me about the Chinese virus. I served the same people for a year because I felt like I had no other choice. Jobs were extremely difficult to find and my mental health at the time was at an all-time low. Every day I told myself I needed to be strong and there will be a day when I no longer have to serve these privileged white folks. I felt angry because I was accepting the microaggressions and the comments even though in my heart I wanted to scream and yell at them for being so ignorant. I also felt jealous that they were able to dine every week and look financially unaffected by this pandemic. The jealousy started to take up space in my head when I noticed all the privileges that my white friends would have. It was an ugly feeling and it was almost uncontrollable. During those long work hours, I remember thinking to myself what if I was in their position instead. The pandemic really brings out the ugliness in the world. The feeling of jealousy in the back of my mind for my wealthy white friends has brought up the conversation of the class divide. I have seen it more than I ever have in my life. Working in this pandemic as a young Chinese woman in predominantly white neighborhoods has really opened my eyes. I can’t help but to feel jealous when I see my wealthy white friends able to live almost uninterrupted and freely while I faced microaggressions and fetishization daily. I wouldn't have dealt with that if I felt like I had another choice, even now two years later I cannot find the words to describe the desperation I had to finance my basic necessities and the mental health state I was in.

Best wishes, Molly