20 March 2013

I'm a Banana, Look at Me Now

I'm going to warn you, this post is going to be a semi follow-on to Monday's about that book, Kitchen Chinese (I don't know the author, I swear!). It's not necessarily because I think the book itself is so awesome, but I felt like I could relate to the main character, Isabelle, and there were a lot of "me too!" moments when I was reading along.

houndstooth stripes

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.

houndstooth stripes  houndstooth stripes

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?

houndstooth stripes

houndstooth stripes

houndstooth stripes

Top: J.Crew perfect striped (worn here - sim, sim, sim)
Skirt: J.Crew pixilated houndstooth (worn here - sim pink, pink, cas)
Necklaces: J.Crew (sim, sim) & Elizajay Charm via Etsy (sim, sim)
Bracelets: Tiffany & Co. 1837 (sim, wide), Tag Heuer, YuniKelley via Etsy (sim, pricey)
Bag: Brahmin sadie (worn here - sim, sim, fun, luxe)
Shoes: Jessica Simpson jaide (worn here -  same colorblock, sim, sim)

55 comments:

  1. Bananas of the world unite! I was born in Canada and I don't speak a word of Tagalog (ok, maybe I speak one or two words), but I'm definitely Filipina on the outside. My parents went to university in the States in the 60s, so they've been in North America for over 40 years now. I consider myself 100% Canadian, but I have experienced my share of "otherness", especially growing up in my hometown (Ottawa). Now that I live in Toronto, I don't feel so displaced because Asians are the majority here. It's my WASP boyfriend who's the visible minority. :) Actually, last summer I was with his family, including his sister's fiance who is Australian, and suddenly I was like, of all of us, guess who was born in Canada? That's right, ME. Not you whiteys. :P But people are always going to look at me and think "not from here." It's just something we have to deal with.

    Anyway, sorry for the long-windedness, love your outfit! :)

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  2. Hi Lisa,i have dual citizen ship(german and american) and even though i look caucasian,i still feel different no matter if i am in germany or in america.
    In the states everybody can hear by my accent that i am not born in the states and they always ask where i am from.In geramny i feel very american,because my lifestyle just adapted to living in the US.
    Great topic!

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  3. Yes we parents are German but I was raised in a small town in north Carolina and I never felt like I fit in growing up!!!!! Ps I LOVE this skirt!!!
    Brooke @ what2wear

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  4. I totally relate!! I was born in Cambodia and moved to the States when I was 4 years old. Although home life was "traditional" Chinese (mom always says we are Chinese, not Cambodian, because of our bloodline) with typical Chinese dishes and a "non-educated" form of Chinese language being spoken in the house, I grew up totally "American". I can't read or write anything except English. It's really the only culture I know and relate to. I absolutely hate it when strangers start talking to me in a Chinese dialect in the stores just because I "look" Chinese or ask me where I'm from. I am now 37, married to a "white" boy, and have 2 beautiful daughters. I am a US citizen and consider myself all American but yet my exterior appearance is still something that I have to deal with at times... annoying, isn't it?

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    Replies
    1. LM, you sound very uneducated about your own culture. I was also born in Cambodia and we are Chinese and we speak the Chinese dialect you refer to at home. I'm very offended. There's no such thing as an "un-educated" Chinese language. That just reflects on your own ignorance of your language and both your Chinese and Cambodian heritage. And obviously reflected by how proudly you marry a white boy. From your statement above, it sounds like you have deep insecurities about not being white and wishing you were. I find this Banana topic brought up by Lisa also very basic. This is something discussed by every Asian American studies group/program. Since when was it a proud thing to be called a banana, i.e. yellow on the outside and white on the inside? I think as a Chinese living in America or born in America, (or whatever non-white person living/born in America, other than African Americans) we will always be perceived as the "other" and never fully accepted as an American which some people take to be synonymous with "white". We will always have to counter people's ignorance of who we are and where we belong. But that does not mean that to be a true American you have to be "white" on the inside and be a banana. In fact you should strive even harder to be true to yourself and remember where you came from. Many white people tell me they find me so interesting because of my culture and they are sad that they have no "culture" of their own as they just white Americans. Just my 2 cents. I appreciate Lisa for bringing up an interesting, non-fashion topic, even if the discussion is very surface (as can be expected of a fashion blog). However, I do appreciate your blog for the fashion and your style.

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    2. Hi Anon - I appreciate your feedback and your thoughtful response. If I've written anything offensive to you, that was certainly not my intent, I was just expressing things how I perceive them. I hope you don't mind me taking a few moments to respond back to your comments.

      Re: LM's initial comment, I can see your point of view, but I also understand where she comes from because I was raised the same way. My family spoke Mandarin at home and ate Chinese food, but everything else about my life was the "typical" American experience and was encouraged to be such. Though to your point, there is still a perceived notion that to be American is to be white - so often it is assumed because we look foreign we must obviously be foreign, and it can obviously be frustrating sometimes.

      Re: my topic - yes, it is very basic. I know there are deep-rooted issues we can spend weeks discussing regarding race and what it is and isn't to be American, but I can only write from my own experiences - and you're right, I do want to keep things light because this is a style blog.

      Re: calling myself a banana - I apologize if that had offended you because I certainly try to be sensitive to others.
      Perhaps this is my own ignorance, but I've never felt that term to be incredibly offensive. I get that the gist of it is that it means I'm yellow on the outside and white on the inside, but I personally don't see it that way. I look Chinese but I feel American and that's how I view it.
      I don't think "Americanizing" myself is taking away from my Taiwanese and Chinese culture, but it is another layer to who I am. My heritage is Taiwanese, I was born in Taipei and I can identify with that. Yet I was raised in the US, schooled here, work here, vote here. It can be a difficult thing to try to balance "both sides" of who we are - I think for everyone, it's naturally easier to point out the foreign than it is to see the similarities.

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    3. I grew up in coastal Georgia, and the only other Asians in my entire high school were my sister and my cousins. I had more of a westernized upbringing since my father immigrated in his teens, but I can relate to the banana comment. I felt too white amongst Asian kids who'd grown up in large Asian American communities, but my outer appearance never had me feel "American" 100%, bc OTHER people didn't get past my appearance. One can be a banana or Twinkie and be 100% true to oneself. I accept & embrace both of my cultural identities, even though it can be challenging with my old school mom & society in general. Educated people sometimes still show surprise when I mention an English degree from a tier one school...but in any case, Lisa - this resonated with me, and I totally understand what you penned and what you are relaying.

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    4. And yes, I married a white boy and have a hapa baby - not to become more "white," but bc that's the color of skin I happened to fall in love with here.

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    5. Hi Lisa and Caroline, thanks for your thoughtful responses. I'm Anon from above. I'm not offended by you calling yourself a banana. People can identify themselves however they want and feel comfortable. I just feel like we, as Asian Americans, should strive to be ourselves and not be proud to be "white" on the inside, whatever that means, as if being white was some type of goal or measuring stick. I am also not offended or bothered by AAs dating/marrying non-AAs. Many in my family and friends are married to white ppl and other non-AAs. I am only annoyed when someone only dates white or marries a white person due to a subconscious need to fit into the majority race in America, or, tragically, feel that they are marrying "up". I grew up in Midwest America and was also typically the only Asian person in school as well, and I had my fair share of racist/sexist encounters (still do). However, I was lucky enough to have been educated on Asian American issues as a young teen and later in college. I was active in the Asian American community trying to help young AA youths/college kids try to figure out their identity during a very confusing time in their lives. I was also raised in a very close knit family. It's up to us to counter these assumptions about AA, whether it is surprise at our non-accented English or that we are not foreigners but are fully Americans, in the full spectrum sense and not just a white America. I was offended by LM's statement about speaking a "non-educated" Chinese language (which I believe she is referring to my native tongue) and my impression of her ignorance about herself/ her culture. Lisa, again, thanks for bringing up this topic and sparking a much needed discussion. Thank you for reminding me that there are still many AAs, youth and adults, who are still struggling to understand their identity as an AA.

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    6. LSN,
      I referred to the language as "non-educated" because that is what my parents told me. They said that the dialect we speak at home is not a version that is taught in the schools over in Cambodia and so they have always referred to it as the non-educated dialect. My dad always called me and my siblings "bananas" because we were brought up here in the American culture and we harbor no ill will towards that word or designation. So, I would appreciate it if you do not call me ignorant or assume that my parents are ignorant. I certainly am not ignorant about my culture and you shouldn't jump to conclusions based on the few sentences that I posted here that I am. Actually, I am speaking to a local school's 7th grade class next week regarding the Genocide and bringing them many Cambodian items to share with them such as clothing, money, etc. Would I do this if I were ignorant or ashamed of my culture??

      Furthermore, I have no subconscious need to marry "up" into the white race.... but guess what? Where I live and have lived for the last 34 years of my life is 95% white and only 1% Asian (based on the current US Census data). So, going through high school, where I did meet my future husband, I didn't have any Asian folks around to even be friends with much less explore future relationships with. I am very proud of my husband, who yes, just happens to be white, and I am also very proud of my parents, who yes, just happens to be Asian. In other words, I don't give a flip as to what color anyone is so please don't make such rash and hurtful comments.

      My point in posting to begin with was just to relate to Lisa's post. Just because I might be of Asian descent does not necessarily mean that I relate to being more Asian than I do at being more American as a whole nor does it mean that I am ignorant or ashamed of my family's history. I am definitely not struggling with my identity as an Asian American in the sense that you might refer to but honestly, America is all I know and I would rather label myself as American and not Asian American if I could...so if that makes me a person with deep insecurities, then I really must be messed up. Geez.

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  5. Hi Lisa, I know how feel since I was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, fortunately I do speak and read Spanish well enough to survive the latino community. But not my girls, the oldest one was born in Miami and does speak a decent amount of Spanish but my 2 little ones weren't born out of Miami and don't speak much of Spanish only what they've learned from Dora (the cartoon) or me when I'm upset. My husband also speaks very little Spanish so we definitely speak English all the time.
    Needless to say I get critized by my peeps back at home, but it's ok It just makes my parents try to speak a little bit of English....
    Dayi

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  6. I have a lot of friends from school who are american/asian or canadian/asian and I know they run into similar troubles. I think this will always happen, the media has generated a perceived idea of how someone "should" look depending on where they are living. I'm just glad in Canada there is more acceptance since most of us are immigrants one way or another :P

    Buuuuut I really just came here to say: I can't get enough of that skirt <3

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  7. Hi Lisa! I can only imagine how you felt growing up. Not exactly fitting in can be difficult. Although I never experienced it culturally, I was rather tall for my age compared to other girls. So of course I was teased and felt awkward at the time. Over time everything leveled off and is not a factor. Love your dress and accessories doll.

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  8. I wasn't born to non-caucasian parents so I obviously can't related and have no idea how it would feel. In a recent Toronto Life magazine issue there is an article titled "The end of white Toronto." Many of the kids in the article say they feel a lot like you did when you were growing up. I think it's the older generation that has a hard time with it and as time goes on it's becoming more and more normal.

    P.S. you were meant to wear this skirt. Again, it looks fab on you!

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  9. I can totally relate to this post. Even though I was already 9 when my famiily and I came to the US, compared to my older cousins my Tagalog isn't as great as theirs. I definitely knew I was different when I started school..I was always the "Asian" girl in my class and sometimes the whole entire school. When I went back to the Philippines for the first time, I was different from everyone there too even though I called it my "home" for the first 9 years of my life. I looked, spoke, dressed different from everyone there too..and like you, I felt the awkward "in between" lost feeling. Being 5'7 and not pencil thin in the Philippines definitely made me stick out of the crowd. It wasn't until I started college when I joined a Filipino group on campus when I realized that it was okay to be different and at the same time be in a group of people with similar/not so similar experiences. I would never wish to change how I grew up because those experiences whether good/bad makes me who I am: Born in the Philippines, grew up in CT, went to public school, college in Boston, and no I'm not a doctor and I hate math. Thanks for a great post Lisa...thanks for sharing.

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  10. First of all, I think it's great that you are getting into this book! That is awesome! Second, I am a caucasian, but I can sort of relate because everyone always thinks I'm hispanic. When I went to Mexico several years back, when I went to Aruba last year and when I just bump into hispanic people at stores, etc. they always start speaking spanish to me an are appalled that I don't know it!

    I love your outfit! The subtle mix of colors and textures are great!

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  11. Loving that gorgeous skirt, especially with those leopard heels! It definitely seems hard to be part of 2 worlds in a sense.

    Annie
    The Other Side of Gray

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  12. Thank you for such an interesting post, Lisa! I always think it's really cool when someone dares to share from their personal experiences like this. Because I'm married to a Chinese boy who grew up in predominantly white Australia, I can relate a little bit to this from the other side of the fence as it were.
    I really feel for him, because he has one foot in each culture, and can't quite seem to fit 100% into either of them. The only thing Victor can write in Chinese characters is his name, and his Cantonese is getting so bad that his dad has trouble understanding him on the phone. (Wonderfully, he remedies this by watching Hong Kong gangster and martial art flicks, so apparently he talks and swears like an uppity little gangster!)
    Since we live in Europe and go travelling a lot, we're also sometimes faced with kids or even adults who have never seen an Asian person before - he even got asked by some people in Poland if they could have their photo taken with him! The interest is always friendly, but of course that wouldn't make him feel any less alienated.
    This is one of the reasons we go travelling in Asia fairly often - he says he likes to be able to lose himself in the crowd. "Now you know what it's like to be me," he'll say, when I tower over the general populance like a pale, friendly giraffe. And it's certainly interesting to experience what it's like to be the odd one out.
    It's also interesting that you've embraced the "B-word", by the way! My Victor is the most laid-back guy ever, but if someone calls him that he just turns pale with fury.
    Anyway, sorry I practically wrote you an essay! And as usual, I love your outfit! :)

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  13. I had quite the opposite experience when I went to Japan - being literally the only blonde in a huge crowd of people, I sort of stood out like a sore thumb. :) But I know my husband (who is Tongan) has felt similarly when he goes back to Tonga since he can only speak conversationally.

    P.S. I love this outfit. :)

    xo
    P.P.S. check out my beauty giveaway on See Mo Go.!

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  14. What a beautiful outfit and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on culture. It was very brave and honest.
    Ginny
    mynewfavoriteoutfit.blogspot.com

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  15. Wow, thank you so much for sharing that post. I really enjoyed reading it--but I usually feel that way about all your posts! :)

    Taylor
    Two Wheelers

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  16. wow you grew up in Queens and NYC? how super cool is that? I'm a white girl from a super small town - no surprises here! LOL! Most of my best friends are Asian, so I know they get this question all the time - being in SF, there are zillions of nationalities though and I love that about our City!

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  17. great post! I'm born and raised in Hong Kong and married to a Canadian-born Chinese. He cannot speak Chinese as his parents wanted to learn to speak English when they came here. So he is a true " banana" so I can totally relate to you being felt that way.

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  18. Nice post! Born in my country as well as my parents and entire clan but growing up, people think I'm from a different race because of how I look. They expect a lot from me because I looked different. Now, living abroad, people were like, you can't speak our language and you look like one, how come? Back home, it's the opposite but same thing. People assume a lot when they see you or hear your story but they don't know what your background is. They have become so judgemental, they think everyone should be like them. We are all different, the way we live our lives and how we perceive things. I hope people should understand that. It's hard being misunderstood. I really feel you. Nevertheless, great outfit as always! And I absolutely love your blog name and style. Keep it up! ♥

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  19. Lisa, this look is so fabulous! And I love the colors. I love that you chose such a bright bag to go with it.
    Meredith
    createthatoutfit.com

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  20. I'm pretty all american...blonde hair and light eyes but some days I definitely feel like the midwestern outcast living in nyc. I don't do things the way a lot of girls/women do here. I have to think it's a very interesting experience having the upbringing you have. I didn't know you grew up in Queens.. I thought you were a long island girl :)

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  21. Hi Lisa! This is basically me too. I was born and raised here, and always felt American until I was old enough to realize that I didn't "look" it. Los Angeles was also not the answer people were looking for when asking where I'm from. I studied in china for a year in college and same thing. Didn't fit in there either. At times, I have felt very frustrated because its like I don't belong anywhere. I don't have a home! Even something like shopping is frustrating at times! "American" fit doesn't work on my no-ass, bow legged body but while in china, nothing fit me there either! I'm naked with no home!

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  22. what a fun post. it's great to venture into stgh a bit more personal than just fashion (but that' also great-it's still a fashion blog afterall)
    I am also 1st gen asian (chinese) and moved to US when I was 6. I've struggled thru various phases of attitude and adaptation depending mostly on my own self-confidence, and the environment I'm surrounded in. My high school years were tough in a mostly white/black school (few hispanics, very few asians) but subsequently all my adult years (college onward) have been spent in environments with lots of asians (either school, city of work) and that has really allayed any poor self-worth I had growing up. Now I flaunt my duality (speaking multiple languages really comes in handy at work) and I have come to love the different lenses in which I can view the world (also comes in handy at work-having to mediate multiple opinions or perspectives on an issue). While I don't "belong" in the very traditional sense of the word, the fact that I don't fit into one basket-actually makes me feel more special and awesome!

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  23. I can totally relate to your story (and we even share the same first name!). My parents are pretty traditional immigrants--we speak Mandarin at home and always eat Chinese food--and I can speak "heritage" Chinese but my few years of reading and writing Saturday classes from middle school are pretty far gone into history. Actually, I have another twist in my background: I'm technically not an ABC (American-Born Chinese) at all, since I was born in China and naturalized as a Canadian citizen as a child since my family moved to Canada for several years before immigrating again to the US. Culturally I'm Chinese-American, but on paper and in little details it gets rather more complicated.

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  24. Banana? Priceless. I can't relate to quite the same extent, but I can somewhat. I was born in Serbia and moved to the states when I was only 16 mos. old. My house was very Serbian, but I can't say that I felt American since we moved a lot as I was growing up (we didn't settle down until I was in 4th grade, and I was in six different schools for the first few years, so my socialization skills were lacking). I spoke both Serbian and English when I first learned how to talk; although my English improved, my Serbian stayed broken. It's pretty much sounds like what someone who has no grasp of grammar sounds like. Blogging has really opened my eyes to see that there are a lot of people who have similar experiences. Except you get a cool nickname and I don't.

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  25. While I'm not not-Caucasian, our stories are very similar. I was born in Germany and moved here with my parents when I was 5. In America I've always been the German girl, but in Germany when we visit our family, I'm always the American girl. I'm technically still a German citizen although I'm identify more with being American as I was raised here. It leaves me feeling like I'm kind of in the middle of no where.

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  26. Lisa! Adore your houndstooth print skirt! I had my eye on this one when it first came out. It looks great on you!

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  27. Hi Lisa - I can relate to your comments as I was raised pretty much the same way. Growing up in Hawaii, there's a melting pot of people of race & color (predominately Asians) and we have our own special culture there. So I always call myself a true "Hawaiian". When I went back to Hong Kong is when I felt like a "banana". Like you said, people expected me to speak & read Chinese and when I did speak they looked down on me for not being a proud Chinese. Now that I have a little one, I do try to expose to his various ethnicity to appreciate all cultures.

    BTW - I am in love with the color of your purse. I have been on an eye for a blue purse that doesn't look too old lady.

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

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  28. Definitely in this boat. In America, I'm Indian, and in India, I'm American. It's a very strange and weird line to walk, but honestly, as I've gotten older. I am so glad and grateful to be Indian-born in America and have the freedoms that has afforded me, even through some of the struggles.

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  29. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I read it with eyes of child, mother and wife of a hodge podge family. I was born in South Africa to a Mauritian mother and Scottish father both who carried Australian citizenship. On paper this makes me Australian. My husband is Japanese but spent 16 year of his youth in Australia and we have one biological child who is a mixture of all of these things and an adopted child who 3/4 Japanese 1/4 Taiwanese. As a family we have lived in Australia, US, Singapore, Hong Kong and now Japan. When I think about it I don't know where we fit or even if we do or don't. It's a bit like your outfit, who would have thought stripes and houndstooth; pink, red, white and blue would create make such perfect image. If you were my daughter I would ask you not to label yourself a banana. To go labeless, to be you.

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  30. I'm classified as a banana over here in Aus and I don't find it offensive as I sometimes sway more asian one day or more aussie the next day depending on the topic at hand but I feel blessed to have both worlds :) Knowing english but also knowing my heritage is great :)

    katattack2000.wordpress.com

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  31. Well,let me just say my dear Lisa that you certainly are the prettiest and sweetiest Banana ever :)!I'm all team Bananas!!!
    I'm Slovene,but thanks to my maternal grandfather I've got that 1% of Italian blood in me and I always like to say:'It's only 1%,but it's pushing hard :))!!!'
    Living in a region that has a historical hate between Slovenes and Italians,there were episodes when I'd feel that somebody doesn't like me because of my nationality and heritage.On both sides that is!I've just learned not to care anymore!

    On a completely different note,I've got to say that I really like Chinese food and I absolutely love the outfit in this post.God,I'd dress like this right on the spot.The jaguar-print heels to the smart shirt and the lovely skirt is just what I like...an unespected detail that makes the whole look so "yeah" :)!

    XO

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  32. "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." <-- This still happens to me and all of my Asian friends. I've definitely noticed that sometimes older people speak "around" us (if that makes any sense). They kind of make me sad because I can't imagine being that unable to adapt or change. I hope that never happens to me.

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  33. We have an Taiwanese attorney here, and she talks about the same feelings, of inclusion and exclusion. Last summer we had a Chinese intern, who had interned at some firms in China, and said it was crazy. She was instantly identifiable as an American even though she speaks Mandarin, and office etiquette was notched up about 5,000 steps.

    Back to this awesome. I want to try this at home!

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  34. I was born in Russia and came here at the age of 6. I also grew up mostly American but I have to admit I WANTED to distance myself from other Russian kids at school who I thought were tacky and crude in their Non-American ways. Not saying this is good but sharing because I realize now that there was an underlying desire to be "white" / American. I still don't consider myself "white" in the sense that I did not grow up eating PB&J sandwiches, and having babysitters, going to sleep away camp, etc. My parents did not go out on Saturday nights for dinner the way my husband and I do now. I look at my kids and wonder what it's like to be BORN in this country, speaking English at home, going to graet private schools, all this stuff I did not have. On one hand I feel like they will have more but in other ways I had a richer upbringing, being able to straddle two cultures and adapt to a new American lifestyle.

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  35. Hey Lisa,i have dual nationality i was born in American. I appreciate you that you have choose nice topic indeed. i adapted US lifestyle, i grew up on the streets of Texas. Take cares God Bless you!

    Moddeals discount code

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  36. That skirt again! <3<3! Happy friday!

    http://www.thefashionableesq.blogspot.com/

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  37. What a great mix that dress and leopard is! You have the best print mixing and color combos!

    XO
    Pearls & Paws

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  38. Hi! I'm from Taiwan and moved the States when I was three also. I've felt the same way, as if I'm constantly stuck in the middle between the two cultures. Great blogpost!

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  39. Hi again. After reading through the comments, I just wanted to let people know who are throwing around the word banana (unless they are calling themselves one) - many Asian Americans find the term "banana" offensive. I personally would be if someone called me that. I appreciate that Lisa is embracing a word that is typically offensive to "take the power" out of it, but just want people to know that it is generally not pc to call an Asian person a banana/Twinkie, especially a person you don't know well.

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  40. Hi Lisa. I'm way late on this conversation but can relate in a totaly different way, being half Hispanic and half Italian, born and raised in Texas. It's incredibly frustrating being talked at in Spanish without being asked if I can even speak the language when I cleary have a very southern accent. Or being asked about "Mexican stuff" under the assumption that I am familiar with all things Mexican. It's ignorant and stereotypical. Over the years I've learned to just let it go but it still "gets my goat" now and again. At the end of the day...why can't we all just be human beings to one another? Regardless of culture, race, color, etc. When ignorance and rasicm is extinguished then we can all be equal , until then we'll be stuck in this vicous circle. Great topic! Love your blog! You are awesome, keep up the good work!

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  41. I'm of mixed Jewish and WASP heritage. I look totally Jewish but was raised in the WASP side of the family, not even understanding why I didn't look like any of them, until I realized that the Nazis would have come for me too... I wrote a blog post about it, actually.

    http://www.sublimemercies.com/2013/01/sally-j-freedman-meet-charlotte-issyvoo.html?utm_source=BP_recent

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  42. Hey ladies - thanks for all your comments, your personal stories and your keen observations. It's touching for me to read your responses and to recognize that though we're from different cultures and backgrounds, we can still commiserate with each other in shared emotional experiences.

    I wish a lot of people in this world can be as open-minded as you ladies are to cultural differences and being respectful to each other's points of view. But I also get it that we're still just plain people - we only know as much as we know and react off that. Hopefully we can continue to expose ourselves to new people and experiences and grow from that.

    Several readers have pointed out that my use of the term "banana" is not necessarily culturally sensitive and for that, I apologize. Personally I've always felt a sense of indifference to the term and it's never really bothered me - though I should have considered it more before throwing it around in a public arena.

    I appreciate you guys taking the time to visit with me and to leave thoughtful (and sometimes personal) comments to share with me and each other. I hope you all have a good weekend and try to stay dry and warm (since most of us don't seem to be experiencing very spring-like weather just yet)!

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  43. It must be so weird to look different from how you feel. I have no experience with it, but I assume it must make you angry or sad at times. Hopefully my assumption is wrong.
    I think you are a terrific woman with a great sense of style.
    (And by the way, this outfit is another proof of that.)
    Greetje

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  44. Lisa, do you also speak Taiwanese? Love your blog!

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately I don't. We spoke Mandarin only at home.

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  45. Not having the experience you have, it's interesting learning about your propsective and how you feel. The author Lisa See has many books on the Chinese/American experience. They are very well-written and offer insights on Chinese culture (in China and America). She also has written an autobiography, On Gold Mountain, that details her relatives (and her) experiences as they came from China to America.

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  46. i haven't been to Asia yet so i wouldn't know about getting that vibe. but i do get the "where are you from" question all the time. And if you tell them San Francisco they'd say "no, really. where are you from? like originally". ummmm i was born in SF. smh.

    Maggie
    lovestylehappiness.blogspot.com

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  47. I love this outfit so much. You made all the diff patterns and color work without it being too busy. I also love your shoes but I can't seem to find a pair that is comfortable...I'm a huge dork when it comes to my love of comfortable shoes. LOL.

    I hear ya about the whole being American but not thing. My husband are both Asian but we both came here when we were 3 and 4. He and I have had this discussion alot but we just really like the fact that we are both...Asian and American...and it's just awesome :-)

    Have a great day!

    ~Jane B.

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  48. I can totally relate. I'm a Vietnamese-American born to first generation parents. When I was younger, my parents made me speak Vietnamese just so I would know how. However, when I started school, they didn't want me to have an accent, so conversing at home evolved to me speaking English and them responding in Vietnamese. And though I can still understand Vietnamese perfectly now as an adult, I have found that my conversing in Vietnamese has become harder for me and I feel like my sentence formations are still at the level of an elementary school child! I'm not sure if marrying "an American" aka white guy has made it worse or made me more "American", but I definitely struggle with the whole "banana" imagery. There are times where I purposely want to immerse myself in a heavily "Asian" environment just to feel like I haven't totally forgotten who I am. Sadly, when I do that, I still feel like an outsider because of my mixed marriage status or the fact that (God forbid), I have a very eclectic group of friends that isn't all one color. I wish you lived near or in the same city as myself. I feel like we would have a lot to chat about! :)

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