Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category

Been criticized about my shopping habits again….

Posted by chinesecanuck on November 20, 2008

I was, once again, called on me for being cheap and not interested in my appearance because of where I shopped.  I saw a few products at a certain online store which ships to Canada and have considered buying a few pieces.  Certain people thought that I was crazy.  And it had nothing to do with spending too much money.  And this store, by the way, isn’t some cheapo teen place.  It’s known for its preppiness.

Something wrong with being Asian and preppy?  Am not amused.

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Wal-Mart Canada launches “Asian line” at some stores

Posted by chinesecanuck on October 15, 2008

The clothing line is cut to fit petite women 5’3″ or shorter with “Asian type” figures. I guess this means “boy shaped.” I’m not sure if it was a good idea for Wal-Mart to use the term “Asian type figures” though, since there are women who aren’t Asian who are small-boned too (just as there are many Asian women who are curvy). But yes, it’s more likely for Asian women to have that shape. The price-point is really, really affordable. What the news release DOESN’T indicate is the inseam length. I guess if they’re REALLY going for the stereotypical Asian figure, the inseam length would be quite short, perhaps even shorter than the “typical” petite inseam of 29 to 31 inches. The most stereotypical Asian female figure has a longer torso in proportion to legs. Maybe the inseam would be more like 27″?

The line, which is made in Montreal (not China, thank goodness), will be sold at 16 Wal-Mart stores in BC, Alberta and Ontario.

Posted in Asian, ethnicity, fashion | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Etiquette Camp for kids and immigrants

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 16, 2008

The Globe and Mail has an article about finishing school type camp for tweens.  One of the girls interviewed is of Chinese descent, and apparently, her parents sent her to etiquette camp (run buy a business imaging company in Vancouver) because she needed to learn the proper way of eating without chopsticks.  Umm, what kind of Chinese Canadian family DOESN’T know how to use a knife and fork, even if they’re fresh off the plane?  If they were immigrants from rural areas, I highly doubt that they could afford this program.  Really, if this girl’s parents really said that, then they must have only done that to get their daughter’s name in the paper (which, in traditional etiquette WOULDN’T be considered proper – a lady’s name is in the paper three times, when she’s born, when she marries and when she dies).  I do agree that it’s important to learn manners – many kids today don’t and many don’t feel comfortable in fancy restaurants.  It’s sad, IMHO.  Some of us are so casual today that it’s making me uncomfortable.  My boyfriend’s friend thinks it’s okay for his 2 year old son to address me by my first name before asking me.  At my prom ten years ago, there were kids who were confused at the table setting – upper middle class, private school kids!  I bet their grandparents would be very sad if they heard.  Some of these kids had grandmothers who were debutantes!

Posted in Asian, culture | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

More on the Brown situation

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 15, 2008

Kai recently responded to my post on non-whites being referred to as “brown.” Kai wanted to know why I objected to the term when many non-whites are indeed, “brown,” including Chinese farmers.  The term “brown” just isn’t accurate.  While Kai does mention southern Chinese farmers being dark, what about northern Chinese urbanites?  Even southern urbanites aren’t that dark.  Japanese?  Koreans?  They’re more of a cream colour to me.  In any case, the “brown” term has class connotations.  As with Europe, historically, most East Asian cultures have considered lighter skin as a beauty standard.  Peasants = dark; aristocracy = light.  Calling someone of East Asian descent “brown,” at especially for older people can be very insulting.

Kai also brought up solidarity.  I don’t think there’ll ever be solidarity between different non-white groups.  I don’t even think there’ll be solidarty within same cultural/racial/ethnic groups. There’ll always be generational differences, cultural differences and class differences.  A second generation Chinese Canadian probably has more in common with a multigenerational rural Canadian than someone from rural China.  There are differences between Chinese Canadian groups as well.  The wants and needs of suburban-raised, upper middle class, second generation Chinese Canadians like myself are different from a second generation Chinese Canadian who grew up in the projects.  Multigeneration Chinese Canadians (most live out west) also have different needs and wants.

Posted in Asian, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Media and Immigrant/Second Gen Stories

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 8, 2008

It’s too bad that the media rarely talk about people like me. I think the world needs to read more about non-white immigrant/second gen people who just aren’t that “old country.” Whenever I read stories about immigrants, especially non-white immigrants in newspapers or blogs, it’s always about immigrants being marginalized, with the lack of resources to services, etc, etc…So where are the stories about people like me? Where are the stories about upper middle class Chinese Canadians? I don’t think we’re that small a group. And I also don’t want to read about crazy culture clashes between the immigrant parents and western-raised kids, either. That’s soooooo over done. I just want to see pieces, fiction or non-fiction about NORMAL suburban families.

As a kid, I never felt that I was marginalized. In fact, to this day, I’ve experienced more issues with more traditional immigrant/second gen+ people (other than people from the HK Chinese community) than people who’ve been in Canada since the Upper Canada Rebellion! This is something I’d love to hear about in media. Discrimination between immigrant groups. I’d also love to hear people talk about rates of integration with “mainstream culture” and how some immigrant groups find it odd that other groups adopt “white/Anglo” culture. I can’t tell you how many times non-HK second gen Canadians have criticized me for being “too Canadian.” I’ve been criticized by HKers too, but it isn’t as bad. HKers think “Oh, it’s because ChineseCanuck was born/raised in Canada,” while other immigrant/second gen Canadians act as if what I do is disgusting. With WASPs, it’s only an issue when ethnicity is brought in the picture, not everyday life.

My question to the media is this: Are people like me not worth talking about? If so, why? I guess I won’t receive an answer, because you guys don’t read blogs like this…or don’t care.

Posted in Asian, assimilation, ethnicity, media | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Aiyah! Gum Yook Suen Ah! – Being Asian raised in the west

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 25, 2008

The Racialicious post on biracial people of Asian descent having “mental issues” got me thinking about how immigrant Asian parents treat their western born/raised children.  There’s so much pressure to succeed in Asian culture and it seems that everyone is expected to be as perfect as possible.  Perfect, meaning good-looking, popular and smart.  And the old country definition of good-looking isn’t always the same as here.  For example, I’m a little on the dark side for Chinese and I also have some freckling from an acne problem I had as a teen.  My mom has been, for the past ten years, bugging me to get rid of the spots.  She hasn’t gone as far as implying that I look ugly, but has come close.  She also thinks I’m too flabby.  OK, so I’ve been a little lazy about doing weights (but at least I exercise!), but does she have to point that out?  All the freaking time?  Her idea of beauty is not the same as that of my poh poh (maternal grandmother), who hates muscles.  She thinks young women need to look delicate.  I guess I’m somewhere in between, but in between isn’t satisfactory.

I’ve also been criticized about work.  I realize that by planning a start-up, I’m way behind my age group/education level in terms of salary, but like looks, do you have to constantly bug me about it?  What’s crazy is that half the time, my mother is bugging me about it and the other half, she’s like “well, at least you’re living at home, so you don’t have to worry about rent/food/laundry.”  In my mom’s mind, I should have gone into finance.  I’d probably be in lower-middle management by now and making close to six figures.  It’s so hard to live up to these “standards.”  It’s no wonder some second generation kids have issues.  And those who’re of mixed descent are probably worse off, because they have the pestering side vs the more free-spirited side constantly clashing.  If it confuses and upsets me, someone who is monoracial, then it must be worse for someone who is mixed.

Of course, there are also people who are very well adjusted, regardless of whether they’re mixed or not.

Cantonese terms:

* Gum Yook Suen Ah! = So ugly!

Posted in Asian, assimilation, race | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Chinese may be winning medals, but sports aren’t popular at schools

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 21, 2008

According to the Wall Street Journal, the lack of organized sports at schools may make it difficult for companies like Nike to sell in China. Most schools just don’t have organized sports teams.  Athletes (such as those winning medals for China), on the other hand, attend special training schools.   The Wall Street Journal blames the culture – traditional Chinese culture still seems to prefer academics over extra-curricular activities.  This may be true, but only to a certain extent.  What the article does not mention is funding.  Many schools, especially those in rural areas have very little money.  Some of these schools make inner-city schools in the US and Canada look like they’re the most equipped and up-to-date.

My experience, of course, is very different.  Most Chinese people I know are not from the mainland, and never grew up with the stigma that sports was not for people who want to succeed in proper jobs.  Different ethnic groups did participate in different sports at my high school (e.g. in the most extreme, badminton was 99.9% non-Canadian born Chinese, while hockey (both field and ice) was 99.9% white.), but almost everyone did SOMETHING (even I ran cross country for one season).  However, I do hear stories from the older generation that school sports just wasn’t part of academic culture in elementary or high school.  My parents certainly never talked about it.  My parents DID have phys. ed at school though.  And I guess schools had house leagues.  But i don’t think inter-school sports existed until recently.

What do you think?   What about the culture?  Do you think the success of the Chinese Olympic Team would change parents’ perception of sport, that it’s something everyone could participate in, rather than “special kids” who’re sent to schools at a young age?  Were you on a school team?  What did you play?

Posted in Asian, China, culture, education, school, sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

All non-black non-whites are “brown”?

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 20, 2008

Racialicious has GOT to be the first blog where all non-whites who aren’t black are referred to as “brown” (at least by some posters.  I can’t for the life of me see how anyone who is say, Chinese or Japanese can possibly be brown, unless one is referring to eye colour (or hair highlights) or to someone who has spent too much time in the tanning salon.  Tan or taupe I can understand, but brown, proper?  I don’t think so.  Unless, of course, you’re into the whole colour group thing.  However, most people think of brown as being something much darker than tan or taupe.  Calling these people brown is beyond racist.

Posted in Asian, culture, ethnicity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

What exactly is “Chinatown”?

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 19, 2008

Many Greater Toronto Area sites boast that there are several Chinatowns, including those in the suburbs. But are the Chinese areas in Markham, Scarborough and Mississauga truly Chinatown? To some, “real” Chinatown is in the downtown areas of Toronto, along Dundas and Spadina or the “Eastern” Chinatown in the Riverdale area. The “Chinese enclaves” in Markham, Scarborough and Mississauga are, on the other hand are suburbs that just happen to have many services catering to Chinese speaking communities.

The “real” Chinatowns downtown have a unique feel to it in every sense of the word. And it feels historical, a little like something out of a Wayson Choy or Amy Tan novel. Markham (or other suburban “Chinatowns), on the other hand, feels like any other suburb, where house prices start at around $350K. Markham is fairly middle class all-round, while “Old Chinatown” is mixed – generally students, “Old Chinatown Chinese” (i.e. seniors who came decades ago), and higher-earning hipster types. There’s obvious poverty there.  It’s often dirty.  The two largest income groupings are either over $100K/year or between $10,000 and $19,999.

Many suburbanites don’t consider Old Chinatown safe, especially at night. When I was in high school, I was warned over and over not to go down there. I wasn’t even supposed to wander around during the day.  Perhaps this is why these people don’t want to claim the suburban Chinese areas as “Chinatown.” It’s all about rep, you know. And in Confucian cultures, you just can’t lose face. People in the old country know about “Chinatown” (meaning downtown) and if you tell them you live there, they’d think that you’re not successful (unless you’re a student at th University of Toronto).

So this brings us back to the original question. Are the suburban Chinese communities “Chinatown,” or does Chinatown have to reflect the the immigrant/”ethnic” stereotype of being dirty, poor and “other”?

Posted in Asian, Cantonese, CBC, China, Chinatown, Chinese Canadian, culture, ethnicity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ethnic Blogs – Why some bug me (yet I still like reading them)

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 13, 2008

Many ethnic/race blog I’ve been to seem to have a very liberal/PC and American point of view.  If you olay a devil’s advocate and say that some groups do things one way because of ABC, you’re hounded.  It’s my way or the highway, and they never look at any other point of view, even if it is constructive.  It’s as if posters are members of some sort of clique.  It’s like high school!  All because sometimes, my ideas can be really different. I’ve even been called stupid by some people (you know who you are!) because I’ve pointed out that some countries consider term A PC while other countries prefer Term B (and find Term A un-PC…think Asian vs Oriental).  This is especially the case if the topic is on beauty.  I’m trying to avoid these topics now, because I’m a little tired of people going on and on about how colonialism was the most major influence on beauty standards in say, Asia – especially when it comes to ideal skin colour.  They seem to ignore the fact that fair skin has always been the standard.  They sometimes even go on and on about embracing the “traditional look” – as if the “traditional look” was ever “ideal.”  But this isn’t the only thing that bothers me.  Religion is another.  I have had people ask me why I’m Catholic.  Why I don’t just “embrace” eastern faiths because Catholicism is a religion resulting from missionaries coming in to “convert the heathens of China.”  My family has been Catholic for four generations.  I don’t see myself any other way.  I am comfortable being a lapsed Catholic.  I can’t see myself converting to any eastern faith.  Not at all.

What upsets me the most are the so-called “white liberals” (actually they aren’t always white.  Just people who are ignorant about other cultures..sometimes even people who are of MY CULTURE or similar cultures, but haven’t been too internationally exposed) who seem to want to erase the past.  Or if they don’t, they want to embrace something that they’re not (this is usually where the not-too-internationally-exposed non-white people come in)  Um, did anyone ever ask you?  What if something is so ingrained that reverting back to the so-called “traditional style” just isn’t realistic, and perhaps even mocked if one ever decides to go back to said tradition?  It’s sort of telling us that your culture/way is better and that we shouldn’t be practicing.  It’s also putting us in neat little boxes/areas.  Kind of like a supermarket or department store.  Again, these people are trying to put their beliefs into others, sometimes to the point of giving readers migraines.

So some of these blogs bug me.  If they do that, why do I read them?  Because I want to let people know that their way isn’t the only way.  I often point out that their way of thinking, and telling people that their way is the only PC way is kind of like colonialism.  In many countries, entire cultures were changed because foreigners came in and told them what to do.  When they resisted, they were killed.  It is no different in the blog world.  If ethnic blogs believe that colonialism/history of slavery/etc was wrong, then they really shouldn’t be telling people what to do and what to say.

Posted in Asian, colonialism, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »