Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

I don’t understand radicals…

Posted by chinesecanuck on October 29, 2008

 …but of course, radicals don’t understand me!  Especially radicals who are involved with ethnic-related organizations (for their own culture).  Is it all that wrong that I participate in groups that historically wouldn’t have accepted me?  I mean, if this truly were the case, many of my parents friends shouldn’t even be playing golf!  We shouldn’t be working in certain industries or buying certain products!

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

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 »

Quebec Schools Required to Mark Non-Christian Holidays

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 2, 2008

And this goes for private schools too, according to the Globe and Mail.  I’m a little confused about the article.  Do the students have to take these days off?  I hope not, as won’t be that many days left for instruction!  And why is it an issue to teach other religions in a (say) Catholic school?  I went to an Anglican school with chapel, and sat through presentations on Islam and Judaism.  It’s great to get some exposure to other cultures.  However, at the same time, I worry that teachers aren’t trained properly enough to teach other religions/cultures.  Those not properly trained will make people of non-majority cultures feel more “other” than they already are.  This is especially the case for non-majority cultures who are assimilated.  People, even those who know you quite well, will start assuming that your culture is one way and will avoid doing some things around you because of what they were taught.  Take, for example, baby showers.  This is not done in many cultures (including Chinese culture) because of all the risks associated with childbirth.  But someone born and raised in North America may want one.  Heck, even immigrant women may want one!  Apparently, my mom’s work friends threw her a baby shower before I was born.  However, that was 1979, before all those sensitivity seminars were brought into the workplace.  I highly doubt that something like that would be done today, even outside work hours.  People are trained to believe that some cultures just don’t find them appropriate and may even be insulted.  Even the article has mentioned something that could be considered a faux pas in my book.  The curriculum mentions that “while most Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, Jews mark the autumn harvest with Sukkot.”  I know Jewish people who do Thanksgiving.  Sukkot.  I know Jews who do Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is NOT a religious holiday in Canada.  That’s why I feel badly for the non-Catholic students at Loyola (school mentioned in the article).   But is not teaching it better than teaching it?  If Loyola doesn’t have many non-Catholic students, then kids there may not be exposed to other religions all that much.  Wouldn’t it make sense to teach about other religions?  However, at the same time, private religious schools shouldn’t have to teach things they don’t believe in.

What do you think about this?  Do you think Loyola is going too far by considering legal action?

Posted in assimilation, culture, education, ethnicity, religion | 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 »

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 »

Interracial Dating: Fetish from the woman’s side?

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 8, 2008

Ethnic/race sites like Racialicious often talk about IRR (Interracial Relationships) and fetish. Almost always, the posts deal with fetish from men. It’s almost as if, especially when dealing with Asian Female/White Male relationships, only the guy could ever have fetish. What about the women? Aren’t the women fetishing something too? And it isn’t necessarily perceived ideal beauty, but maybe a lifestyle? Growing up, many immigrant kids watch television, read books, etc and dream of that “perfect,” what we now call “Martha Stewart” life. They want the perfect place settings, the perfect kitchen, the perfect house. It’s not that you can’t have those if you marry an Asian guy, but it’s more of the image. With an Asian guy, you may still be expected to do Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner the Chinese way – that is if you grew up doing it at all – you know, a turkey marinated in soy sauce and stuffed with sticky rice (some people don’t like it – I do), bok choy , etc. Or they don’t want to be criticized by a prospective MIL because she feels that they aren’t “fill-in-the-blank-culture enough” (can happen…moms seem to have higher expectations of Asianness when their kids’ significant others are of the same ethnicity). Perhaps the “fetish,” isn’t physical (at least from the woman’s side), but a lifestyle. Of course, this lifestyle really only exists in the pages of Martha Stewart Living and at displays at Williams-Sonoma, but a girl can want to make it as close to that as possible. Trust me, if I lived on my own, I would (and I don’t think I need a guy to do it). However, I don’t think I can with my parents around, for various reasons.

Of course, that kind of lifestyle also comes with a bit of preppiness. True preppiness is mostly white, in my experience. There are preppy Asian guys, but they’re usually first generation preppy (I really don’t get the unattractive factor here. No Asian guy I know is completely unattractive/geeky/insert Asian stereotype. Some are even high maintenance/metro!) True preps aren’t too brandwhorish or materialistic. They like the good life. They also like to look well-groomed, but it’s not all about displaying labels. That’s not hot, after all. Sadly, many first gen preppies have parents who are the complete opposite. It’s about getting the luxury car, wearing and displaying the logos and so forth. Sure, I’m generalizing here, but it happens. Second, third gen preppies and beyond are more subdued. Perhaps some women want that.

It’s interesting that the typical male Asiaphile does not fall into this ideal. Most Asiaphiles are unattractive nerds or middle age, overweight men. These guys, at least in the extreme, are more likely to want the opposite of what the woman mentioned above wants. They want a more Asian lifestyle. Perhaps that’s why they prefer foreign women. They’re easier to mold and not to mention, they probably see these guys as arm candy as well (even if they don’t LOOK LIKE arm candy -heh). These women probably don’t want the Martha Stewart lifestyle, at least not the way a North American raised Asian woman sees it. They may want that “ideal American life” but probably won’t go into details such as place settings, food, social stationary and the like, especially if they’re from a developing country.

Of course, I’m probably generalizing, especially with foreign Asian women. I’m not foreign, so what am I supposed to know? In addition, many people would probably disagree with me, especially when it comes to the western-raised Asian and her wanting the “ideal lifestyle.” But it’s something that is rarely discussed in ethnic message boards regarding IRRs. Maybe it’s time for that to change. After all, a lifestyle can be a fetish too.

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

Education, Tradition, Legacies and Interfaith Relationships

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 6, 2008

Some people say that interracial relationships are more difficult than other intercultural relationships. I beg to differ and say that interfaith is harder than anything else. It isn’t necessarily holiday-related, but for things like what school hypothetical children should go to.

Several of my classmates are legacies. Legacies, not because they did something while at the school that would go down in history, but because they’re daughters of Old Girls (alumnae). While the term isn’t officially used in any of the school’s literature, emphasis on the importance of continuing a tradition of sending daughters to the school is definitely felt. There are scholarships and bursaries that give priorities to these girls.

Many outsiders, however, do not understand this, but eventually do so (or at least attempt to) after a short explanation. My boyfriend is one of those people, but I’m not sure if he truly understands. I haven’t officially told him that should we marry and have daughters, that I’d like the girls to go to school there. This could be an issue down the road, because he doesn’t seem to be comfortable with the idea of sending them to a school that I consider to be “vaguely Christian.” (some would beg to differ, and say that it’s very religious…this school is a university preparatory school, not one that emphasizes faith, especially when the vast majority of its students aren’t even of the school’s religion!) He would blame his mother, but I’m not so sure it’s all his mom. It’s him too. I’ve tried to overcome this by suggesting that the hypothetical daughters go to a more neutral school. But I still have a preference for my alma mater – it’s just something that’s ingrained in many of us who went there.

Some people may think that my wanting little legacy children is a little on the superficial side, especially when I’m not a legacy myself, and that I’m not from a “traditional prep school type family.” (read: WASP – but see, there are a lot of things that some people (especially people involved in “minority politics” don’t understand…like why some Hong Kong Canadians like these schools). But don’t legacies have to start somewhere? Not everyone is multigeneration. In any case, the school has very high standards when it comes to academics, as well as up-to-date teaching methods and technology. If one has daughters and can afford the tuition, they should apply.  Religion shouldn’t be the number one factor to consider when it comes to applying to a school.  Academics should be priority.

I think the religious thing is hindering him from fully accepting the whole legacy/tradition thing.  I’d love to be able to send any daughters I have to the school, but if one of us doesn’t agree, then there’d be issues.  If I were dating someone who was of a different ethnicity, but the same or similar religions, choosing to apply to the school wouldn’t be a problem – unless his side has has connections to another school.

Posted in education, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Greyhound Slaying, Immigration, Mental Health and Culture

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 5, 2008

I’m sure most of you have already heard about the Greyhound beheading in Canada a few days ago. The accused is an immigrant from China who apparently has no real history of mental health issues. However, many of his close friends have said that he did seem distant and refused help, according to an Edmonton Journal report. I’m wondering if his refusal for help is cultural-related. The social stigma of mental illness is much greater there than it is here, and therapy is relatively new. I have relatives who find therapy weird, especially if it’s for “normal” people (i.e. those who are depressed. They believe that depression is an invention of the modern middle class). But no one has said that the murderer is depressed. It could be a whole host of issues. But I’m not sure if things will change all that quickly. The culture is very old, and talking to people who aren’t related to you is seen as odd, even for younger people.

When people immigrate to Canada, they are required to have a medical examination. This includes physical and mental health. However, to my understanding, the mental health exam is not too detailed. Should it be more detailed? Perhaps people like this guy would not have been allowed in. If this isn’t a case of depression, it’s likely that this guy has had issues LONG BEFORE HE CAME TO CANADA.

Posted in China, culture, immigration | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »