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Thread: Chinese Americans are not Chinese

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    Senior Member Radken's Avatar
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    Default Chinese Americans are not Chinese

    A week ago, a Chinese guy in his mid-40's told me this at work. He said Chinese Americans are not Chinese. When went into detail, he meant that Chinese Americans are really Americans who just happened to be raise in that culture. And that the Chinese we speak is American Chinese, not the real language. I was secretly thinking what the hell is this guy's problem but I couldn't say anything because he's a paying customer who gives generous tips.

    But what would any of you have said?

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Well...to an extent, he's right. It all depends on what your definition of 'Chinese' is, I suppose. I was born in China, and came to the US when I was 3. I always thought, all along, that I was very Chinese (and compared to many of my ABC friends, I am), but when I went to China, I found out how different, in many instances, frames and modes of thought are, simply due to entirely different upbringings.
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 12-02-07 at 10:31 PM.
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    Yeah I came to the US at age 10. I sometimes feel like I don't fit in 100% with either ABCs or the Chinese Chinese people.

    Oh the other day I walked by this chinese girl talking to some white dudes at school and happened to overhear one of the whities say something to the girl about something Chinese, and she was immediately like "I consider myself American, I was born here." Then the white dude's like "Oh."

    I remember thinking to myself, "bannana."

    She's the opposite of the dude you talked to.

    Oh yeah, now I also remember. This TW girl that I pursued couple of years ago used to introduce me to her TW friends as "American" classmate. I would say "I am from ____" (town in China) and she'd be like "You're American." LOL But on the other hand, non-Asian Americans always see me as being Chinese first.

    I can't win. I suppose.
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    Registered User yearning's Avatar
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    Yeah I feel like I don't fit in as well. I speak Chinese w/ my parents (ok Chinglish), but I feel so uncomfortable speaking it with my Mando friends---always end up speaking English anyway.

    I'm really fobby when it comes down to music, movies, media, interest in culture (I don't care too much about Canadian music/movies/culture lol), but I never hang out in fobby groupies. So I don't know what to identify myself as meh. I guess saying Chinese-Canadian isn't an unfair phrase =P

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    If you can't speak Chinese and have very little knowledge of Chinese culture/history, you are NOT Chinese even though you have a Chinese face. Parents who don't want their kids to learn Chinese, especially Mandarin, are fool.

    China is so damn big. Chinese in the North is different from Chinese from the south. We don't have have to discuss about Chinese living in HK, Taiwan, Malaysia, South America, Singapore, and other parts of the world.

    One thing for sure is that you ain't White even though you born in the US and can read and write English better than your White friends.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jay_z View Post
    If you can't speak Chinese and have very little knowledge of Chinese culture/history, you are NOT Chinese even though you have a Chinese face.

    One thing for sure is that you ain't White even though you born in the US and can read and write English better than your White friends.
    Hmmmm. Then by your standards, I'm neither Chinese nor "White."

    Fine. I'll settle for being human, then.

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    Senior Member oGaKirA's Avatar
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    LMAO....yes you are not Chinese unless you achieved something big like the Nobel Peace Prize or become a Star....then you are Chinese...why heck even the other asians will claim you!

    ahhh....now I don't feel so bad being a minority from China.
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    Senior Member LuNaR's Avatar
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    u are chinese if u have yellow skin. u are white if u have white skin. that simple... ppl's first impression is always correct
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    Senior Member Guo Xiang's Avatar
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    It appears that your customer is talking about nationality, not race.
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    Senior Member yittz's Avatar
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    You are Chinese if you want to identify with China/its culture in anyway.

    Chinese Americans will always be ethnically Chinese, no matter how purged they are, culturally.
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    Senior Member Radken's Avatar
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    After reading this thread, I feel like I'm going through an identity crisis again. I'll have to take some time to think about this more carefully before I give a more thought-out opinion.

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    I think that 40+ china dude is pretty much in line with what china chinese think about non-china chinese.
    They think once someone leaves china, they are "嫁出咗" (a daughter married out). You're not really part of the family anymore, but belong to your husband's family and are no longer to rely on your parents. Which I guess is a somewhat true analogy.

    From my observations last time I was in China, mainland Chinese are very patriotic.

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    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    IMO, if it looks, acts, and talks like Chinese, then it's Chinese.

    If you can go to China without being treated like an alien, then you can be considered Chinese.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ View Post
    IMO, if it looks, acts, and talks like Chinese, then it's Chinese.

    If you can go to China without being treated like an alien, then you can be considered Chinese.
    I don't know if this happens in China, but whenever I visited my home country, people treated me like a foreigner and always tried to rip me off. I hate going shopping there, which is a shame since everything cost so much cheaper there. But I hate to be taken advantage of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Radken View Post
    A week ago, a Chinese guy in his mid-40's told me this at work. He said Chinese Americans are not Chinese. When went into detail, he meant that Chinese Americans are really Americans who just happened to be raise in that culture. And that the Chinese we speak is American Chinese, not the real language. I was secretly thinking what the hell is this guy's problem but I couldn't say anything because he's a paying customer who gives generous tips.

    But what would any of you have said?
    Yes this is a problem with most Chinese Americans, especially of my generation (i.e. first generation to be raised in a western nation). Well in terms of Chinese, I've been told I don't sound American at all (except when I throw out English terms in the middle) but I have a Southern accent. Usually in stores I can pass off by lying I'm some *insert random place in Jiang Nan*, and then no one rips me off. It might also be because I'm a very stubborn bargainer - even if they are 5 RMB away from my price I'll insist they lower it.

    To be honest, to say I'm Chinese would only be half the answer. The fact is that I grew up in a western society so the way I think and act is obviously influenced somewhat by western values. I think having friends of any race is not something unusual, while in China multiculturalism isn't as ubiquitous. My English is better than my Chinese, no doubt about it. Similarly, to say I'm American would not be correct because besides the fact that I'm yellow. I have acquired many Chinese habits from my parents. And I highly doubt many Americans are obsessed with Guo Pinchao and listen to Wilber Pan! So I would say to fully describe me, I'm a Chinese American. Just that. It's really not a bad thing! We are the product of what happens when East meets West - living examples of cultural diffusion
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
    Yes this is a problem with most Chinese Americans, especially of my generation (i.e. first generation to be raised in a western nation). Well in terms of Chinese, I've been told I don't sound American at all (except when I throw out English terms in the middle) but I have a Southern accent. Usually in stores I can pass off by lying I'm some *insert random place in Jiang Nan*, and then no one rips me off. It might also be because I'm a very stubborn bargainer - even if they are 5 RMB away from my price I'll insist they lower it.

    To be honest, to say I'm Chinese would only be half the answer. The fact is that I grew up in a western society so the way I think and act is obviously influenced somewhat by western values. I think having friends of any race is not something unusual, while in China multiculturalism isn't as ubiquitous. My English is better than my Chinese, no doubt about it. Similarly, to say I'm American would not be correct because besides the fact that I'm yellow. I have acquired many Chinese habits from my parents. And I highly doubt many Americans are obsessed with Guo Pinchao and listen to Wilber Pan! So I would say to fully describe me, I'm a Chinese American. Just that. It's really not a bad thing! We are the product of what happens when East meets West - living examples of cultural diffusion
    You are chinese american?
    If I remember correctly, you said you are from Australia where prostitution is legal and all that....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trien Chieu View Post
    You are chinese american?
    If I remember correctly, you said you are from Australia where prostitution is legal and all that....
    Sounds like Sparky-O has many identities, because all this time I thought she's Chinese-Canadian.

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    Senior Member Radken's Avatar
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    I tried hard to be one or the other my whole life. Then out of the blue this old man comes in and labels me however he likes. I hanged out with FOBs during high school but we never clicked. I tried to be more American but I've yet met someone who could look past my yellow exterior. It's the same when it comes to women. I stopped chasing Chinese girls for a period of time because I felt they all have the same certain expectations and standards from Chinese guys that I don't have. There were white or Hispanic girls who had crushes on me but when I tried to take it a step further with them I found out we are like worlds apart. Obviously, I'm not entirely either Chinese or American. But if I'm neither both then what I really am is nothing more than a blank state. It's frustrating when someone you don't know tries to steal a piece of your cultural identity. I think this guy in his mid 40's wanted to declare his seniority over me simply for the fact that he was born in the motherland and I wasn't so that makes him more Chinese. I speak fluent Cantonese, I've yellow skin, and I celebrate every Chinese holiday with my family. I'm as Chinese as he is. If I could speak my mind I would've told this old man to do every Chinese person like me a favor and just get over it.

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    Senior Member Candide's Avatar
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    Radken, you have an identity crisis. Many fellow hyphenated Asians share this with you. Stop looking for other people's approval of your identity & you'll get over it. Build an identity that is unique to you. Don't let your nationality, ethnicity, cultural background or religion become the first & foremost part of your identity. If the first thing people (including yourself) notice about you is that, for example, you're Chinese, then you'll always be bothered by stereotypes & expectations. You can be more than that.
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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candide View Post
    Radken, you have an identity crisis. Many fellow hyphenated Asians share this with you. Stop looking for other people's approval of your identity & you'll get over it. Build an identity that is unique to you. Don't let your nationality, ethnicity, cultural background or religion become the first & foremost part of your identity. If the first thing people (including yourself) notice about you is that, for example, you're Chinese, then you'll always be bothered by stereotypes & expectations. You can be more than that.
    Have to agree with Candide here. Anyone who hassles you over ethnicity, just tell them to go stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

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