Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Same Race Intercultural Relationships: Can be difficult!

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 29, 2008

When I was going through my dry spell of not having a boyfriend, my parents talked about sending me to China to work, and hopefully meet someone there.  Yeah.  Mainland China.  Not Hong Kong.  I’m a suburban-raised Catholic girl from Toronto, you know the kind of kid who went to Brownies and summer camp.  I don’t even SPEAK Mandarin (though I DO speak Cantonese).  Why would I have anything in common with a guy from the mainland, no matter how educated he is?  Even if he has degrees from Harvard or Yale?   While they definitely accept my current relationship status (serious and long term with a white Jewish boy), they somehow fail to understand that when it comes to someone who is from the SAME ethnic group, it really doesn’t mean that you’d have anything in common with them.  Of course, you never have the SAME experience as the person you have a relationship with, but really, you need to have SOME things in common in order for it to work.  You need to compromise in a relationship, and chances are, some of the influences and traditions that I was raised in are so foreign to him (even if he spent several years in this part of the world)  that it would be difficult to compromise.

Having had the influence of immigrant parents who are from a culture where family is very important, I need to be able to communicate effectively with the guy’s family.  As I don’t speak Mandarin, how would I talk to the his parents?  And what if they’re critical of me because they find it odd that someone of Chinese descent doesn’t understand the customs?  I already have a grandmother finds her Canadian-raised grandkids are not “as good” as those who lived in Hong Kong (I heard this through the grapevine, but apparently this grandmother said that I was a barbarian)!  In any case, I often worry about these kinds of relationships.  Are they just looking for a passport?  You never know.

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4 Responses to “Same Race Intercultural Relationships: Can be difficult!”

  1. Scott S said

    I understand where you’re coming from. My wife moved here from Korea at 17, and quickly embraced American culture – somewhat to the chagrin of the rest of her family. She says she could no more marry a Korean man than a baboon.

  2. Scapegoat said

    “Barbarians”? Your grandmother is still in the Dark Ages! If she thinks that Canadian culture is so inferior, then she should go back to Hong Kong!

  3. Yeah, I think old, foreign-born people are out of touch with reality when it comes to how the Canadian-born generation (of their ethnicity) thinks. All they see is race (even when it comes to their own children) and make assumptions.

  4. […] how interracial/interfaith relationships don’t work out because of cultural differences.  As I said in an earlier post, cultural differences can often be greater in an INTRAracial relationship!  But lots of people […]

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