Letters I Never Finished

Made in Chinalamp-traditional-asia-china

DEAR READER,

I am not ashamed of being Chinese.

Google tells me that ‘Asian’ can be defined both as an adjective: relating to Asia or its people, customs or languages, and a noun: a native of Asia or a person of Asian descent. Often, Asians are stereotyped as high-achievers who are smart, quiet and socially awkward. I am sure you have heard of the ‘Asian 5’ – perhaps you have ever sneered at the ‘lack of creativity’ Asians have.

 

DEAR MUM,

I rejoice in experiencing Chinese culture! Don’t apologise to me for the fact that we are Chinese and may be given fewer opportunities – it is not your fault we are marginalised.

We are part of the ‘model minority’, members of society who are perceived to achieve more socio-economic success than the population average. This success is typically measured by high income, advanced education, low criminality and high family/marital stability. Although this may appear complimentary, it has caused harm that is largely unknown to the general public.

 

DEAR NICE, FRIENDLY PEOPLE THAT I MET THE OTHER DAY,

I am indeed, wholeheartedly from here. I have grown up in the Western world. I call this country home, because it is the place that houses all my friends and memories.

 

DEAR PEOPLE WHO ARE SURPRISED WHEN I FIRST OPEN MY MOUTH,

I will not hide behind my ‘engrish’. Hidden by the unforgiving conundrum of ‘ching chong chang’, many people are still trying to navigate your strange but beautiful foreign language. I see your weighty judgement about their language abilities. If you have an accent – rejoice – for you know at least two languages. Be happy you’re engulfed in the beauty of not only one culture but two.

 

DEAR DAD,

I am proud to be Chinese.

 

DEAR PEOPLE WHO HIDE BEHIND YOUR RACIAL SLANG OF ‘FRESH OFF THE BOAT’ JOKES,

Do you know how hard it is to move to a new country? War-torn countries see many people flee, arriving here in hopes of a fresh start. It’s already hard enough to come to a new country; it’s even more difficult to survive. We are suffocating under the pain our ancestors have faced: those who have survived revolutions, civil and foreign wars and the change of political regimes. These people have sacrificed so much so that we could have brighter lives. Too many silent cries are ignored.

 

DEAR PEOPLE WHO LOVE ‘ASIAN CULTURE’,

You can acknowledge your love for fried rice, sushi and dumplings, but you sneer at those who are not your ideal. There is more to Japan than anime; more to China than Made-in-China stickers; more to Korea than North and South; more to Vietnam than the war. Please do not selectively embrace our culture: we have more to offer than it seems.

 

DEAR EMPLOYERS,

Asians are 40 percent less likely to be hired than their white counterparts with the same credentials. After all, no one wants their year, school or company filled with non-Australians. This is a bias that, you know, ignores the fact that within our millennial generation are many Asian students who were born and raised in Australia. The Australian Diversity Council found that Asian-Australians contributed to less than 2 percent of executives in the top 200 companies. I urge you to ignore your subconscious bias and stereotypes. We have worked hard and deserve to share the same roles as you.

 

DEAR CLASSMATES,

Although our struggles are different, they do matter.

 

DEAR THE MODEL MINORITY NARRATIVE,

Do not assume that Asians are just a quiet, high-achieving group. Do not forget that Asian-Americans, Asian-Australians and Asian-New Zealanders are the most bullied ethnic group in classrooms. Do not stereotype us into the ‘Smart-Asian’ category; we are more than our HD’s.

 

DEAR THE TERM ‘WHITE WASHED’,

What does that even mean? How can I ever be an inauthentic Asian?

 

DEAR FRIENDS,

Thank you for embracing me with open arms. More, please. I urge you to defy these constricting labels when you hear them. In this world of cynicism, do not be defeated. You are strong and powerful.

 

DEAR WESTERN WORLD,

Why do you still make me (feel) ashamed of being Chinese?