just remembered something.
i’m writing an essay on the history of immigration policy in the U.S. and its implications about the American identity, and it’s really quite difficult.
as an chinese american who grew up quite sheltered, in a strong chinese american and asian american community, i don’t recall any incidents of racism or outright prejudice. however, i’ve always been aware of and conflicted over my ethnicity.
most of my friends are asian american; that could be because of the social network i was a part of in chinese school and via family friends. i don’t know if that’s really evidence for anything.
(this is what i remembered:) but my younger brother has used the term ‘american’ multiple times to refer to people who are not chinese. not even just caucasians but also african americans, hispanic/latinos, i’m not even sure what the full list (if it exists) of all the minorities in the US is. it was weird the first time i noticed it. i corrected him then, saying that we too were american. it was a label that we both knew was a bit clunky. it happened again, and again. i kept correcting him. but even so, i still knew what he was meant when he described people as american.
chinese americans definitely have a reputation for being good students, meek, really talented, competitive, nerds, a ‘model minority.’ people chalk up our achievements and attribute it to our race/ethnicity (i still don’t really know the difference). we even say it ourselves, usually in jokes and memes; “there’s always an asian better than you,” “of course you got an A on that paper, you’re chinese.” i call b/s. i know plenty of not-asian americans who are definitely more brilliant than i am. they just don’t care as much in class, don’t try as hard, have a little more freedom behind them. and i’d also say that increasingly i’m seeing non-asian americans meeting/exceeding asian americans in school, i’m seeing asian americans be really outgoing and social and have worse grades. everyone just wants to get into college. there are no hard lines; there are hardly any lines. but the lines are there, and that’s what makes me uncomfortable.
not saying that i want everyone to blend in and be the same regardless of culture and ethnicity and race. but there are tensions, and there is certainly racism. it is abating, thank god i can call myself a legal citizen of the USA, but especially with the coronavirus you can see that racism towards chinese people is definitely alive around the world. even while writing this, i have a qualm that people will think less of this piece, this blog, and myself because i’ve revealed that i’m chinese american. hopefully that isn’t true.
people, please don’t make assumptions about me. being asian does not make school a cakewalk. i am my own complex person with random thoughts. i try really hard and i fail a lot. i’m not a robot, i’m an introvert, i’m kind of a hot mess. i know others that are the complete opposite.
please don’t make assumptions about chinese people, and please don’t extend those assumptions to people from other east-asian countries; the cultures within and around china are extremely varied.
inevitably this piece contains evidence of my own perception of stereotypes and prejudices. to combat this, i try to keep my mind open when i meet new people, and don’t assume things i don’t know about them. i hope you do the same.