Like I mentioned before, my family moved to the States from Taiwan when I was three. Though my parents still had us speaking Mandarin at home and made traditional Chinese dishes for dinner most nights, I grew up very American. I lived in NYC for most of my young life and went to public school like everyone else, rode bikes after school, hung out with my friends, ate fries, and swooned over Hollywood hunks like Tom Cruise (pre-Oprah couch-jumping), Christian Bale, Brad Pitt. Color, religion, it didn't matter when we were kids - we were all different and just like each other.
It wasn't until I was older that I started noticing I was different. Different in the American-but-not sense. Like being asked all the time (typically by people of the older generation) where I was from - and "Queens, NY" wasn't the answer they were looking for. Or noticing that people got uncomfortable around me when they criticized Chinese politics, etc. because of course I'd be sensitive to that. Or realizing that someone didn't want to date me simply because I looked a certain way. As "heck yeah, America, y'all" that I might have felt, it didn't translate for everyone.
And I really noticed it the first time I went to China. Though I can speak Mandarin conversationally, I sometimes miss words due to regional accents or if someone was speaking too fast, I can't write or read Chinese, and I certainly can't have a business conversation. Going to China was a moment where I felt like I was just a normal American girl going to visit a foreign land, but everyone there just thought I was like them. Heck, I lost me in a crowd. And everyone there didn't give me the "hey, you're American, let's speak English and you tell me about Lady Gaga" like they did with my caucasian co-workers. They gave me the "you're Chinese. Why don't you speak Chinese better. What do you mean you can't read Chinese?" vibe.
It's a weird in-between world that I sometimes feel like I reside in of I ams, but I'm nots. I think "banana" is a perfect descriptor for myself - the yellow exterior is my Asian appearance while the interior describes my "American-ness."
I know there are a lot of other American-raised children out there of non-caucasian foreign parents - have you felt a sense of belonging but not? Does it bother you, or do you just let it be? And for everyone - what do you all think?
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