Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

I look mixed? WTF?

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 8, 2008

I had my nails done at a salon I don’t normally go to this past weekend.  Practically all of the employees at this nail salon were Vietnamese, with one lady who was Vietnamese of Chinese descent.  Like me, this woman spoke fluent Cantonese, sans regional accent.  However, I knew that she wasn’t Hong Konger based on the WAY she spoke it.  It wasn’t an accent, but the way her voice sounded.  In any case, she later commented on how I looked “half Chinese, half ‘Canadian.'”  In immigrant Asian lingo, “Canadian” means white (in any case, “Canadian” could mean any ethnicity at all, she would have just said that I “looked” Canadian).  I do not look mixed.  I kind of figured that the only reason why she may have thought that is because I’m like a head taller than her (which means that this woman is super-petite, as I’m only 5’2″…probably slightly below average for Hong Kong Chinese women in my age group).

Why would someone say that another person looks “mixed” when the person clearly isn’t?

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3 Responses to “I look mixed? WTF?”

  1. Nelson Yee said

    She probably meant your style — the way Chinese or HK-born Chinese can usually pick up on the fact that some people are North American-born Chinese.

  2. Yeah, but if it’s the case of style, wouldn’t she have said that I was totally Canadian, rather than half Chinese?

  3. I’d have to go with Nelson on this one. Maybe she meant “culturally” mixed.

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