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Maxine Hong Kingston: Author and Advocate

By Ruby Cemental

Hong Kingston is a life force. At her current age of 74, the author, after writing and publishing several distinguished works, continues to move toward what she does best: being a voice for all who deserve equal treatment.

Early Life

Maxine Hong was born in 1940 as the first of what would be 6 children to first generation Chinese immigrants. She had a somewhat difficult childhood due to the expectations of her parents, and, despite having never felt that her parents encouraged her to do well in her academic studies--in part because in their conservative Chinese culture, women often are not expected to have careers outside of the home. She was a scholarship student all through her education, which culminated in a degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She married, and upon graduation, taught for a number of years.

Career

Her passion, however, was writing, and in 1976 she published her first book, Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. Some of her negative childhood experiences came to the surface in the book, and some critics took her to task for what they said was focusing too much on the exotic Chinese history and not the day-to-day racism that Asian-Americans face. Kingston viewed this as yet another attempt to silence voices, and dedicated herself to being an advocate for equal treatment, no matter the nationality.

Hong Kingston has written several works over the course of her life, has been teaching at the college level for 30-plus years, and has received plentiful recognition for both, but her attention to human rights regardless of ethnicity and particularly for women, may be her greatest achievement.

She feels that she "doesn't have to be constrained to being just one ethnic group or one gender [and that she feels] that [she] can now write as a man, [she] can write as a black person, as a white person; [she doesn't] have to be restricted by time and physicality," and, through patience and understanding, that everyone can empathize with other human beings, despite their differences.

Later Life

Even as a woman quickly approaching 75, she continues as a voice for the oppressed. She encourages creativity in people and urges them to seek catharsis in their lives. As everyone deals with times of struggle, Kingston recommends that “In a time of destruction, [one should] create something” to help them find meaning in these less fortunate points in life.

Through encouragement, creativity, and kindness, Maxine Hong Kingston has remained an inspiration to seniors of all races, genders, and creeds. She continues to do wonderful things in order to ensure that voices are heard.

For more Caring Senior Service's inspirational stories on the aging pioneers of our day or for aging resources, please contact us.

Refer Care for Patients and Family ButtonRuby Cemental Blog Author

Tags: Golden Inspirations

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