My mom is Chinese and my dad is Chinese, so it stands to reason that I, also, am Chinese. And what do you know, look at me, I am Chinese. But, I also happen to be third generation, so both my parents were born in America. We’re basically an American family. Our family dynamics are similar to a white American family, maybe more so than a family with one generation of immigrants and the other of American born children.
Growing up, I’ve always lived and still do live in predominantly white neighborhoods and areas, so I don’t have much contact with other Chinese people outside of my extended family. And because I also have American born parents, I never really think about my “Chinese-ness” very much. Being Chinese isn’t a major defining factor of my life and of my character and a lot of the times
I don’t even think about it. Take for example, my junior year when I was invited to a multicultural open house at Swarthmore College. Receiving that invitation was a little bizarre because someone out there was taking into account that I was Asian and not white. Someone out there was giving more thought to my Asian-ness than I was.
But, even though I mostly think of myself as simply American and not Chinese (American), other people are obviously going to look at me and see the Chinese before they see the American. And this is something I never really considered before. In high school, (most of) my friends were American, so looking at them was like looking into a mirror where my American-ness was reflected. And their whiteness, well, somewhere in the deep deep back of my mind that was like a reflection too. But, ever since coming to college it’s been different. I wonder if people treat me ever so minutely different or look at me with just the slightest difference because I’m not white.
I had an unpleasant experience the other night while I was out with a few of my friends. Three of us were Chinese and the fourth girl was white. A drunk kid called us “Asia House” as he asked us a question. There is something beyond our Asian exteriors. Michelle and I are American. The United States is not a white nation in the same way the countries of Europe are white nations. People (read: white Americans) need to learn, to realize that the country they’re living in is home to faces that don’t look like theirs, but it is still our natural home. I have never been to China, and I don’t know any other home but the US.
PS: Asian Americans make up the second largest minority.