Alley Naylor is a traveling nurse who was born and raised in Columbia, MD and moved to Charlottesville, VA in 2012.
Her mom, Jen (aka @themamabirdfarm aka Kimchi Queen) grew up in South Korea and would spend her summers on her grandma’s farm in the mountains.
She came to the US with only a kimchi pot and without speaking a word of English, yet memorized a page of the dictionary every day until she mastered the language. As one might imagine, inner city Baltimore in the 70s-80s was not kind to her. When she met Alley’s dad, John, they decided to settle in the suburbs where there would be well-rated schools but a diverse culture for their mixed children to grow up in.
The Naylor family often visited relatives in Charlottesville, where Jen fell in love with the mountains that reminded her of home. They uprooted their lives and bought a piece of land just south of town where they started a small farm with chickens and grew a variety of fruits and vegetables
“Thinking about what she has manifested for herself is amazing,” Alley says about her mom.
Even though she is half Korean and half White, Alley has always felt a strong connection to her Korean heritage. Alley remembers the stigma of being in grade school and how simply looking Asian came with so many stereotypes. One being her school asking if she needed a special teacher for English as a second language, for no other reason than what she looked like.
Without realizing that it could be harmful, healthcare workers often treat patients differently simply based on their race. “We’re all humans with implicit biases and even in today’s schools we are trained to treat using race as a risk factor.” It is harmful to mention race when discussing health as if there are biological and genetic inferiorities to people of color, when if you dive deeper into the research, many of these statistics are thought to be a result of lack of access to health care, education, and really all ways in which racism was built into our systems.
Alley’s top 5 must have Asian ingredients:
– Toasted seaweed
– Soy sauce
– Gochujang (Korean fermented hot chili paste)