i made a ‘tomorrow will not suck’ master plan that basically factors in what chores i need to do, what my study plan is, and how i’m rewarding myself for staying on task.
fingers crossed that it works!
Cannonball - Lea Michele
The All-American Rejects - Move Along
Sometimes on these thisisnot blogs I see asks like, "I'm a person of this descent but raised in America. Is it okay if I learn and participate in my original culture?" and the answer I usually see is yes. If someone is half white and half non-white, I assume the answer would still be yes. But if someone is only a quarter, or an eighth, or less, it starts to get more iffy and appropriation is questionable as they're further removed. Where would you draw the line (if at all)?
While I agree with you to some degree, I don’t believe in using blood quantum to qualify a person’s identity. I think that it really goes by a case by case basis and you cannot have a set list of criteria that someone must fulfill before being “allowed” to identify a certain way.
That said, I think there is a certain degree of truly identifying with and being identified as X that is important to be able to “lay claim” to identifying as X? A “white-passing” mixed Chinese person has every right to identify as Chinese if their Chinese heritage was really a part of their life in any way. I think those ways are hard to qualify. It can be growing up with your Chinese mother’s home cooking, it can be celebrating Chinese New Year with your Chinese relatives, it can be communicating in Chinese with your grandparents … or it can be none of those things. As a non-mixed person, I don’t think I can comfortably iterate what exactly “allows” a mixed person to lay claim to Chinese heritage.
I think all I can say is, I absolutely agree that at a certain point, it does get iffy. I think it’s iffy in cases where a completely white-passing person who’s grown up with no connection to their Chinese heritage identifies as Chinese. I think if you can go through your whole life not knowing you have some Chinese heritage then suddenly discover the fact one day, and it has no bearing on your everyday life whatsoever, I question how much you can really lay claim to the identity. But it’s not up to me to police that sort of thing at large, y’know?
I hope some mixed Chinese people can chime in to this conversation with their more personal and nuanced thoughts!
P.S. I mention “being identified as X” not to exclude white-passing mixed people, but to include Chinese adoptees in non-Chinese families, who by and large do not grow up with access to Chinese culture in their family life. But obviously, they have just as much right to identify as Chinese, and growing up visibly Chinese means they do share a lot of the experiences as other, non-adoptee Chinese diaspora.
Number one, I think we need to recognize that half something/ half white is not the only mix that people come in. And that struggles with identification and being allowed to identify are not only connected to your Chinese heritage but also your other heritages as well. For example, someone who is half Chinese and half black, identifying as Chinese is much more difficult than for someone who is white and Chinese. They will have to face colourism and racism because they may not be light skinned like a “typical” Chinese person and because they are black.
The mod of thisisnotchina said everything pretty much on point but there is one thing that I always wonder about. What happens if I have a kid? What if my partner is not Chinese or Iranian, then my kid is going to be a quarter Chinese and a quarter Iranian and whatever else. When people ask if people who are 1/4 or 1/8 are allowed to claim heritage it always leaves me with a weird feeling like, what are my kids gonna do. I am heavily connected to my Chinese side, if I ever had a kid i would teach them the language, the traditions, I’d cook the food, I’d take them to Chinese supermarkets, I’d make sure they were connected to Chinese culture. But that isn’t enough, right? There’s a high likelihood that my kid will come out looking nothing like me. They won’t look Chinese at all. Would it be wrong of me to dress them in cheongsam on new years and tuck lai see under their pillows at night? I ask myself these questions all the time and then I worry for these fictitious children that I may never even have. I don’t think the question of “who can and cannot identify as X” can really be answered. I don’t think there is really a definitive answer, and if there is one I certainly can’t come up with it now.
This hits harder for me than ever, coming just before moving in with my full white (Sicilian) boyfriend.
Coming from a mixed heritage, it has always been very tough for me to identify as Chinese and have aspects of Chinese culture in my life, because it was difficult for my father (who is full first-generation Chinese-American) to even identify as Chinese. When he grew up, it was drilled into his brain by his parents that it was extremely important to 1) be American in all ways and 2) never bring attention to yourself. He grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and didn’t have Chinese friends until adulthood. Ever since I can remember he speaks no Chinese. (And his mother barely spoke English, so you can tell how great their relationship was.) My father and his siblings all have English first names and celebrate Christmas despite not being Christian, because those were the things to do to fit in, and they never questioned it.
Now, however, it gives me an even more distant feeling of identifying as Chinese. (My father’s parents died when I was a toddler, so they had little influence on my upbringing.) I didn’t look Chinese, I couldn’t speak Chinese, we rarely made Chinese dishes at home. I celebrated Chinese culture much like I celebrated my Jewish culture: Lunar New Year and Qing Ming (which I just had to look up, I just know it as the annual cemetery visit), like Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah. But unlike my father, who was taught to be silent and invisible, my Jewish mother always proudly proclaimed her heritage and taught me very early on that I was Jewish, and I should be proud of that fact. I never had the same affirmation about being Chinese.
It’s made me so insecure about my Chinese heritage and what I can claim and identify as my own that, when considering a Chinese banquet for a (still hypothetical and very very very long-away) wedding, because it’s one of the few things I remember and love about my culture, I worry it would be considered cultural appropriation and if I have the “right” to claim anything Chinese.
Not to mention any children I have would be even farther removed from a Chinese heritage (and would have to learn about Chinese culture from me, and I don’t know it or even know if I am ALLOWED to disseminate info on Chinese culture).
Jonathan Groff @ Ravinia singing “Baby it’s Cold Outside” as a duet with Sven.