What does “Chinese American” mean to me?

When I am asked, “What nationality are you?”, I simply respond, “I am Chinese.” I do not use the terms Asian, Asian American, or even Chinese American to identify myself. I have never really thought about what being Chinese American means to me until this very moment. I know one thing is for sure is that I am proud to say that I am Chinese.

Being a full-blooded Chinese means a handful of things to me. Just to list a few of them , here they are: being a minority race, having an unique culture, and living up to certain stereotypes. Being American is a different story. It means staying out late watching American movies, eating pizza, hamburgers and french fries, and just slacking off. Sometimes I feel that being both Chinese and American is a very complicated job. It is difficult to please both “parties” when I want to do “American” things but wish to retain my Chinese culture at the same time. It is as if I am caught between two different worlds (experiencing a sense of “twoness”). Nevertheless, I do appreciate who I am and where my ancestors came from.

Having a different culture is one of the many reasons that I am proud to being Chinese. Our beautiful language, which has many dialects, is one aspect of our unique culture. It is amazing how the Chinese language can distinguish which side of the family a relative is from simply by his/her name. In English, we would refer an aunt or uncle by just “Auntie X”. From this name, a family friend would not be able to know which side of the family that aunt is from. Speaking of families, Chinese people are usually really good about keeping close ties within the families by holding many (I emphasize the word “many”) family gatherings.

Sometimes I believe that being Chinese means that I would have to live up to certain stereotypes that are placed upon us. Some of them include being well-disciplined, smart, successful in the job market, humble, and polite. Although these stereotypes are mainly positive, they can also hurt me if I am unable to live up to them. However, in the meantime, I am also trying to change the stereotypes by my own action. I communicate, I talk, I present, and I show off.

Overall, I am most proud of being a Chinese American and everything that comes with it: language, food, customs, and especially the respect!

Leave a Reply