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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


racial identity

I had some problems making posts to here because of the weird google switch, but like magic! It works now! This is a short essay I wrote for my English class. The prompt was about your racial identity and to what extent you feel it defines YOU. I would like to revise it and make it less english class-y (classy) and more my personality.

Being defined by my racial identity is something I have always struggled with. My mother is Han Chinese, born and raised in Hong Kong. She moved to Memphis to pursue a Piano Performance degree at Memphis State, where she met my father, who is Caucasian and was born and raised in rural Missouri. I was born in Memphis, but spent the first eleven years of my life in Middleton, TN, a small town an hour away from the city. Ironically, in a town where racism is the norm, I was never aware of being that different from my peers or even my family experiencing racist comments. Growing up in Middleton, my family ate Chinese food most nights, spoke Cantonese at home (though my father does not speak any), took off our shoes before entering the house, etc. I was eleven years old when my family moved back to Memphis and began to realize that I was “mixed”—a word that I had always associated with people that were half Caucasian and half African American. In Memphis, my parents had busier work schedules and my older sister moved away to live in China. We adopted a much more mainstream American lifestyle—eating with forks, speaking mostly English, and walking around in the house in street shoes. It seems that in Chinese culture, family is very important. Once my sister moved away and my parents were not around very often, we became less “Chinese” and more “American.” I have been to Hong Kong three times (ages 5, 12, 19) for extended stays with family, but went to main land China for the first time over winter break. Now that I am nineteen years old and able to fully understand the importance of these visits, I feel more Chinese than when I was younger and had the fluency of language. It was one of those earth-shattering experiences. I learned about my family and my culture, a culture I had always struggled to understand. In America, it is obvious that I am not Caucasian. Everything gives me away—my eyes, my Asian stationary, the way I speak broken Chinese on the phone. However, in China, these things merely give me away as “a mix.” I cannot say that I feel like I fully fit into American culture or Chinese culture, but these are the things I am trying to figure out. My racial identity is confusing and I am not sure if it will ever be clear to me. What is clear to me, however, is that I want to learn as much as I can about Chinese culture.


Beautiful. And also beautiful the fact that you don't despise your heritage, but that you're actually proud of it - a mentality that here in the US i found really hard to find.
This is intriguing... and doesn't sound too English classy. Makes me want to know more about the heritage you grew up with, and I'm happy that you do, too.
insight! is beautiful.

hm. i haven't been asked to do anything introspective in college... that seems sort of odd. whatever assignment you got must have been of value to you. it's nice to hear more about you, alice.
Ya he visto algunos hay ...

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