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Monday, October 20, 2014

Yes, I'm Chinese

The other day, I had someone tell me that, "you're basically white". She justified this by saying that because I wasn't raised by Chinese parents, I'm not culturally Chinese. She herself is culturally and ethnically Chinese.

There's some truth to her claim.  I don't have Chinese parents... or at least, I wasn't raised by them. I was raised by lovely white parents who were very conscious of the fact that they have a Chinese daughter. I'm not culturally Chinese, but I grew up taking language classes, Chinese dance, and well aware of many Chinese cultural values. I'm basically white in that aspect, since I've had to learn about my ethnic culture the way an outsider would.

I'm basically white, except for the fact that when I fill out official documents, my "nationality" is USA but my "ethnicity" is "Asian". Absolutely NO one would believe me if I wrote "white", since a quick glance at me can tell you that I'm not. I'm not sure if it's the almond-shaped eyes, the gold/tan skin, or the naturally black hair... but I'm not "white". On documents, my birthplace isn't somewhere in the USA. I might be a US national, but ultimately my roots are not in this country. 

Once you've opened up the "Asian" can of worms, you have to define which sort of "Asian" you are. No one is just going to accept "Asian" in this day and age. "Asian" is as big of an umbrella as "white", and both are annoying to get thrown under. I'm "Chinese", because it would be a lie to call myself "Japanese" or "Korean". Those labels don't suit me, because I was born in China and am ethnically Chinese. 

Around these parts, I get approached by programs aimed at Chinese international students because I look the part. When I lived in Singapore, people spoke to my parents in English and me in Chinese. Regardless of how "proper" Chinese people with Chinese parents who grew up in China see me, the world sees me as "Asian" at the very least, and generally "Chinese". I might be a fake Chinese to them, but their cultural values created girls like me who reside all over the world. And yes, those girls, like me, are Chinese.

Don't worry, I go back to beauty tomorrow! Also, part 1 of an awesome blog interview with the one and only Sweet Electric will be up on Wednesday :D


  1. Interesting post, it got me thinking to when I was at school, I have a Hungarian surname, but I was born in England and have no ties to Hungary other than the fact my Grandfather was Hungarian but he left his country and said goodbye to his Hungarian ways after he was forced to leave during WW2 (basically if you didn't believe in the political party that was running the country at that time, and it was known, you would be sent to jail or killed) Pretty brutal and unsurprisingly he adopted the British culture and never spoke Hungarian again after. I never learnt a word of Hungarian, but throughout school I was always called a foreigner - and occasionally I still get told to 'go back to my own country' when people see my name on paper. It's kind of ridiculous because I am British born and raised. Anyway, thank you for this, it really got me thinking, by blood we might be one thing, but culturally we are something completely different.


    1. Hayley-Eszti,
      Thank you for your wonderful comment. I thought it was incredibly interesting to read. Isn't it curious how people have different perspectives about their own race/ethnicity?



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