Self Validation according to a first generation Malay Immigrant.

Jun 29, 2021

I started thinking about self-validation when my therapist was asking if my decisions would be different if it was from a place of self validation.

Hmmm….. that question made me pause.

Growing up (and even now), I have always prioritized external validation. And, more now that I have left my home country for close to 15 years. I came to US as a foreign student and later stayed as a ‘skilled foreign worker’. I am choosing this language on purpose because that is what the US government calls us.

Wait, let me back track…

They actually use a more derogatory term called a legal alien immigrant.

Let that sink in.

It was not until March 2021 (yup) that the Biden administration started to use more inclusive language when referring to immigrants. This rather dehumanizing language is something that I have always accepted when I applied for my H1-B1 visa on a yearly basis.

Every time I had to renew my visa, I was told to include a letter from my employer as proof that my skills cannot be found in another American citizen. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for immigrants. This language and immigrant laws have been in place for many many years and that’s what I am here to share.

The reasoning I offer here is a lens of someone with the privilege of having a bachelors and masters degree from an American University who also holds a Malay immigrant identity while flying under the radar as a semi-practicing Muslim.

In this resource, I will share the:

  • A brief history of Immigration Policy.
  • An intersectional lens when it comes to healing.


An immigrant may have a higher tendency to prove themselves better because there is a trend to grant U.S. visas to highly skilled and educated immigrants in an attempt to progress the country’s technological and medical innovations (Hadiel, 2017). When I worked in the US, I had to renew my  H1-B1 visa every year because I had to show proof that my skills cannot be found in another American citizen with a similar educational background as me.

The immigration laws above highlight how citizenship has been directly linked to race and class. In fact, the Chinese and Irish came to the United States at around the same time, but the Irish had easier access to citizenship which was reserved for White immigrants until 1952  (Takaki, 2013). This was a design reiteration of the 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act (or Literacy Act), where immigrants from most of Asia were restricted from entering the United States, exempting Japan and the Philippines from the restriction (Bell et al., 2016).

However, the law exempts highly skilled professionals and their families, and literate students (Migration Policy Institute, 2013). I have to point out that these laws created exemptions only when bodies of culture are a benefit for whiteness. Over time, bodies of culture inherited systemic generational trauma in the layers of koshas proving our self-worth.


It is important for me as a Malay Immigrant that flies under the radar as a semi-practicing Muslim to address this as part of my healing with self-validation.

Healing is knowing that there is a deeper reasoning to the tip of the ‘what should I write in my newsletter’ iceberg. With this realization and knowing, I can remember to show myself compassion when I make decisions for the growth of my business that serves me and the greater community, aka you.


How Whiteness is Preserved: The Racialization of Immigrants & Assimilation in Education by Hadiel Mohammed

Explaining white privilege to a broke person.