In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant

These sunglasses belonged to my mom. But I never saw my mom wear these glasses. They were always around the house, and when we were young, my sisters and I loved trying them on - pretending we were famous. As I got older, these sunglasses became part of my distant memory. I was reminded of them again as I was going through my mother’s belongings after she passed away in the 1990’s, and came across photos of my mom at Niagara Falls. I finally saw my mom wearing the sunglasses! But, other things in the photographs were striking to me: seeing my mom with the American flag flowing in the background and standing in front of an iconic American landmark at a time when there was still an immigration quota of 105 visas a year for people of Chinese descent and only a few years earlier, the first federal law to exclude a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the US, the Chinese Exclusion Act, was repealed. Besides the obvious reason why my mom wore the sunglasses - to protect her eyes, I started to think how those glasses might have protected her in a different way. Did it allow her to take on a new identity and offer her a sense of belonging in a newly adopted country? While revisiting these sunglasses for this project, I noticed something I had not seen before, the brand name Polaroid. Out of curiosity, I googled “Polaroid sunglasses from the 1950’s” and came across an old ad featuring a woman wearing sunglasses of a similar style, and wonder if my mom encountered a similar ad...

Year: 1950

– Karen L Lew Biney-Amissah

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant