With the influx of Chinese immigrants comes the emergence of Chinese-American community and identity. And yet, when asked what exactly defines the Chinese-American identity or when prompted to even Google “Chinese-American identity,” vague responses appear, often times lumping Chinese-Americans into the massive entity of Asian Americans. What is the Chinese-American identity, and how does it differ from that of other members of the Chinese diaspora (or as Aihwa Ong might prefer to call it, the Chinese transnational community)? This seems to further beg the question of whether or not there is even such a thing as a pan-Chinese identity.
It seems that Chinese-Americans face a particularly interesting stigma among the Chinese diaspora though. Chinese-Americans constantly face being called white-washed, ABCs (American Born Chinese), bananas (being white on the inside and yellow on the outside), or Twinkies. While these terms may be deemed harmless or all fun-and-games, they are obviously derogatory in that they imply cultural inauthenticity as a result of the time away and distance from one’s mother country. But other factors are ignored in understanding the disjunction in current notions of Chinese-American identity and the generational gaps among waves of Chinese immigration.
Our group has best broken down the Chinese-American identity through observing a few facets of the Chinese-American experience:
- bilingualism and Mandarin as a symbol of dominance and power;
- perceptions of Chinese-American restaurants;
- Chinese-American parenting and the myth of the Chinese tiger mother
- Inda and Rosaldo Chapter 7
- “Constructing and Reconstructing Chinese American Bilingual Identity”: http://www.lingref.com/isb/4/183ISB4.PDF
- “Chinese History is on the Menu in NYC” http://articles.latimes.com/2004/mar/14/nation/na-general14
- Suggested Reading on Los Angeles Chinatown and “Ethnic Spaces” http://220.127.116.11:8080/dspace/bitstream/123456789/153/1/The%20Removal%20and%20Renewal%20of%20Los%20Angeles%20Chinatown.pdf
- Talking About Authenticity, from the view of 2nd generation Chinese Americans: trailcombination2