by The Bathtub Project
Date of Interview: October 25, 2016
Name: Olivia Persons
Location: Washington, DC
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about art, culture and food. Different cultures, worldly cultures, the way that culture influences society. I’m biracial, I’m half Chinese and half black, so my mother growing up was like, really good about teaching me and my sisters about her culture. And I recently have been learning a lot more about Africa and my ancestral roots. Learning about it as an adult, understanding taboos, especially, the huge difference for me being an American and how America is completely different from China and especially in Africa. Specifically in Africa, there are so many third world countries and we don’t get the scope of that here.
Do you think how you were raised affected these passions?
Definitely, my mother always makes really really good delicacies that I can’t replicate for the life of me. Like, dumplings and some really weird shit to be honest. She goes on these little excursions to H Mart and honestly, there are things that I’m scared to try. There are things that look weird, but she swears by them and swears that it’s good. I’ll take her word for it ::laughs::. Like mushrooms, I’m not a big mushroom person, but that’s big in the culture. With art, my father is a film maker, he’s working on a film right now and has been for awhile and I really think that I get that artistic and creative side from him. My father… the way he has decorated our house… it’s so eccentric ::laughs::. I don’t have the best relationship with my father but one thing that I can say I appreciate is his ballsy-ness when it comes to that. There will be times I come home and there’s a new sculpture that looks kind of weird or a new painting that really wakens up the room that it’s in. So I really appreciate his eye for it, his knowledge. He does a lot of research, he never studied art in school or anything but takes it upon himself now.
Do you think that the culture your parents came from influenced how they raised you?
Yes, absolutely. I feel like I’m the black sheep of my family. So it influenced me but in the opposite way. I’m the black sheep because I have really liberal thought processes and my parents are very conservative in their own ways, my sisters as well. My mom, she grew up in a very respectful home and I’m not saying I’m not respectful but she has… certain standards that she sees fit that don’t necessarily agree with the American ideal. Growing up in high school, didn’t go to any parties, curfew, didn’t have one because I didn’t go out. Whereas my father, he is American, grew up in Chicago, he grew up in the 70s around South East Chicago so he’s seen a lot of violent crimes that has affected him in his adulthood. He didn’t really have that heavy of a hand in how we were raised or in parenting at least, but him being an American and a black man growing up in the 70s in the ghetto to rising up from that- I think affected the kind of life he wanted for his daughters. So we, we’ve always been modest and humble in how we lived which allowed us to afford other things. I think, specifically with my father, he didn’t see much value in worldly possessions like shoes or fashion, things like that. So we took trips and ate well, that was more important.
What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.
Relationships are important as long as they’re healthy ::laughs:: yeah. Um, platonic relationships, I feel are the most important. I feel like I’m a pretty sexual being and I’m able to realize that. Sex is a part of our nature and to ignore that, or to acknowledge that it’s not important in that relationship, that sex isn’t what it’s about is great. It takes away a lot of the stresses and worries and complications that goes into a romantic relationship. I feel like trust is easier in a platonic relationship. Romantic relationships also… what an interesting question ::laughs:: especially now. Wow, if you would have asked me this a month ago, this answer would be completely different but… I think, relationships are important but you also have to find solitude in yourself first, especially before romantic ones.