A different kind of Chinese because the China you know isn’t the China today
The Chinese you are is fake
Like Westernized Chinese food
It’s your parent’s Chinese
It’ your parent’s parent’s Chinese
It’s the exoticized Chinese
It’s the stereotypical Chinese
It’s the Western Chinese
You live as a ghost Chinese from a time when China was rapidly changing
Between tradition and modernization
Between farms and factories
Between tradition and communism
Between diversity and homogeny
Between existing and colonialism
You are some relic that was never meant to happen
You are a Chinese that’s not really Chinese yet it seems like Chinese because either you or everyone else like you are trying to convince yourself and everyone else that you are a kind of legitimate Chinese
You’re a Chinese that’s not really a Chinese
It’s the Chinatown Chinese
Chinatown is a façade of a China that doesn’t really exist.
So, the China of the immigrants who made Chinatowns and the China now, are far removed but also unintelligible from each other.
How can we have pride in China, a China that was remembered different by our parents and our parent’s parents, when we don’t understand and associate with them.
How can we have a connection with China when the Chinatowns we grew up with only reflect the imaginary fantasies of both immigrants and White people?
They may be our roots, but we’ve rotted away from them. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it just so happens to be like this.
So, we ask that you understand why we are like this.
Subtly, casually, we are made to seem weird and foreign.
Not overtly because people like Chinese food, and they don’t want Chinese people to take away their Westernized Chinese food.
But also, you need to know we are aliens, just with delicious food.
But we’re so shamed for seemingly abandoning the motherland, for moving away, for not being Chinese enough.
We can’t go back because they don’t want us.
To them we’re like any other foreigner, maybe worse because we’re seen as defectors.
So, someone tell me how I can feel prideful of a heritage that has only brought pain, alienation and otherness.
We don’t want to be othered, we want people to realize that we are made to be some Other.
We didn’t ask for this, we didn’t ask to be rendered nothing.
There is nowhere else to go, there is nothing we can be.
Our parents worked and sacrificed so that we can live a good, comfortable life.
So that is our destiny: to live a good, comfortable life in a society that merely tolerates us, that barely understands us, that has relegated us to some other space so we might continue cooking them their Chinese food, or clean their clothes or home, or massage them, or serve them, or if lucky enough, to occupy highly skilled and lucrative jobs.