Sunday, 31 August 2014

Chinese Canadian

Here's an interesting article I came across on my Facebook feed:

I agree and disagree with some points of it, but it makes me reflect on why I Just Can't Become Chinese.

I remember my first times going abroad. I was with the Oakville Children's Choir, and groups from China would be curious about me amongst a bunch of white people. They asked, "I'm confused. Are you from China or are you a foreigner?" For them, I was either Chinese or not. There was no in between. I went to mainland China for a trip once and someone said, "Ah, I can tell that you're a foreigner because of the bumps on your legs." What?! My mother has those bumps. That didn't make sense to me, but the only thing that got through was that I am not Chinese. And yet when I'm in Canada, when I explain that I'm from the Toronto area and my parents are from Hong Kong, they tell me I'm from China. To people coming from outside of Canada, I am not Canadian enough (read: white?) to qualify as Canadian.

I shouldn't be complaining. I am not an exile, a political refugee, or someone whose home is lost to war. Did I ever have a home in the first place? Yes, it is in the suburbs of Toronto. The thing about growing up there, as opposed to growing up in a homeland, though, is that home and family to me is one specific house where my parents tried to maintain a certain way of life. Home did not spill out into the streets, public life, and school.

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