Breaking Free of Discrimination

Jimmy Chen.

We are commonly expected to fit in with Chinese values, traditions and culture. I was born broken away from my culture, overseas, where we were Canadian, and where I was often expected by my parents to talk in Chinese, eat Chinese food, be great at school and to one day go to a top-notch university. My extended family even expected me to choose my future job by the age of 9, because we were a long line of skilled craftsmen, from beekeepers, village elders and rich farmers to computer engineers, famed architects and politicians.

The stereotypes of being Chinese still haunt us wherever we go. We openly and consistently get ticked off when we hear that we eat dogs or speak horrible English. A good example would be the fact that in school, we are defined by stereotypes of Chinese people. I repeatedly find myself explaining that I’m Canadian to other people. In fact I even went as far as completely disowning my Chinese heritage to make it simple to describe. I was defined by my own pretexts to make myself fit more with the “American” lifestyle, and it quickly became my biggest mistake. It wasn’t justified, I found myself away from my true culture, of what I was composed of, homesick in a entirely different manner. Its feelings were excruciating and indescribable, forcing me to often change my nationality. One day it’s Australian, another day, it’s Canadian, then French, then British, then any other country I travelled to for an extended period of time. To this day, I still cannot define my nationality, and simply call myself a mix of British and Canadian.

The question that continually pops into my head is “How do you accept the fact that you’re Chinese?” We live in a society where we often don’t want to adhere to ancient traditions and culture anymore. We want to embrace the fact that we are in a new age where race doesn’t matter in modern parts of the world, but we also wish to spring out of our box and define ourselves with new cultures and traditions from other parts of the world we live in. We want to change ourselves because we have become so connected to other people in the world that we now consider our original culture too boring. We have effectively became a multiracial world where we openly accept each other, which has become a huge and beneficial development from our original “modern” age of discrimination.

How did I embrace the fact?

I was proud of being Chinese later on, but that was quickly shattered when I learned about the injustices China committed. At first, I felt insulted. We were not all responsible for some things that the People’s Republic of China’s government does, nor are we not responsible for the actions of a lone person. I became a Chinese dissident, and an activist–an unrelated story for another day–but we consistently face discrimination for simply being Chinese. We know that we are not garbage. We are people, living creatures. We put up with this consistent harassment and the strings of insults that follow and all we do in response is either defend ourselves and shame them, or do what normally people do, flee the scene and feel disappointed in ourselves for what fate has given us: a Chinese ethnic identity.

I mean what have we done to them? We do not clog up the system, we attempt to contribute and live our lives in this free land. We attempt to change the world in our own way, and despite the fact that the majority of us are still good, law-abiding members of society. Why are we still continually insulted, discriminated against and personally attacked, just because we’re Chinese?

My opinion is that we need to finally fight back against racism and the stereotypes imposed on us. And some of us need to stop being hypocrites about racism ourselves. We need to finally end this continued discriminatory prejudice that plagues us in foreign lands, and we need to stop being part of it ourselves too. I am a Chinese-Canadian, and I am proud of that. I will never give that up, ever again, should I be openly insulted or teased because of that. I am myself, and we should be ourselves, no matter what the cost would be.

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  • Steve

    I’m proud to answer that i’m Chinese Canadian each and every time i’m asked. There’s no point in being offended, unless it was intended – most people genuinely don’t know. As for being ashamed of anything, there’s no country on this planet that hasn’t committed atrocities in some method or another. Educate yourself, and your insecurities will clear up soon enough.

    • Sensai

      Proud to be a Chinese Canadian? That’s a racist attitude too.

      You should be proud of your own accomplishments or the accomplishments of your people not simply your ethnic heritage.

      Ask yourself what you or your people, Chinese Candians, have accomplished!

      • Zhe

        Yes ! That’s what I going to say. This guy looks like lost in picking-side that makes no sense. The real salvation is standing for own accomplishment.

    • John Long

      Hi Steve. Good for you on not denying your Canadian-ness. But at the same time, why the CHINESE-Canadian? Aren’t you just “Canadian”? Or do you want to define everyone else as “ENGLISH Canadian”, or “Mexican- Canadian” etc so that everyone can be racially pigeon-holed? Just be Canadian. That’s what you are. Chinese is just your ethnic background. We all have ethnic backgrounds in Canada. Should we all define ourselves from where we came from historically, and never accept each-other equally as fellow countrymen – the reality?

      • osaka_hemae

        I so agree with you! It’s something I really hate, that in English speaking countries, if you’ve got European heritage you don’t state what it is in front of your nationality, but everyone else feels inclined to. And it really points out that bringing attention to race and nationality is actually racist.

        • deluca

          There’s a big difference. White Canadians are not oppressed minorities who are constantly bombarded with messages that they are “the other”, that they don’t belong in mainstream society, that their “foreign culture” is less than, that they’re not “true Canadians”… So to proclaim your heritage in this case is standing up against that very oppression.

          If a white Canadian asks “what nationality are you?” or “what are you?” and the minority responds with a simple answer “Canadian”. That white Canadian will then say, “no, I mean where are you REALLY from?”. You take it for granted that if YOU say “Canadian” people will not question your answer. They will not inquire any further simply because you’re white and your appearance fits into people’s idea of what a “true Canadian” looks like.

          • M.L.

            @deluca: The implication that Chinese Canadians are ‘oppressed’ is laughably stupid. Read about Auschwitz or the Jim Crow south or Apartheid South Africa to get a realistic gripnon what ‘oppression’ is. Merely being a racial minority hardly constitutes oppression and applying the term to the Canadians of Chinese ancestry trivializes the term and sounds like silly PC psychobabble. I don’t mean to be rude but I have very little patience for nonsense and what you’re saying is really nonsensical.

          • deluca

            Just because Chinese Canadians are not being killed doesn’t mean they’re not being oppressed. Oppression comes in all sorts, including the ones I stated. Whether overt such as racial epithets being thrown at you or covert such as not being hired as a manager because of preconceived notions that Asians cannot be leaders. You’re basically saying that racism doesn’t exist today because there is no physical evidence, i.e. a sign that reads “for coloreds” next to a water fountain or piles of dead bodies. Today’s racism, which is a form of oppression, is much more sophisticated and stealthy.

        • M.L.

          Yeah, it is, but it’s actually the white liberals who encourage this sort of thing; they have this weird ass idea that making a big show over aknowledging peoples’ race is somehow proof of how sensitive and ‘anti-racist’ they are. It’s extremely counter productive.

          It’s not really true though that only non-whites identify with hyphenated monikers in English speaking countries. The term French-Canadian is ubiquitous, and in the US various white ethnic groups identify by such monikers as Italian-American, Irish-American, etc.

          • deluca

            The point I made was that there are plenty of reminders in the form of racism for minorities NOT to forget where they or their forbears came from. For example, if you’re a kid of Mexican descent and grew hearing racist remarks about Mexicans, you’re going to be very aware that you’re different and don’t really belong. You’re going to be very aware of your Mexican heritage. Hence you will end up identifying as both Mexican and Canadian. In reality, that kid lives in two worlds— the Mexican and the Canadian. His parents might speak Spanish to him at home. He might eat more Mexican food at home. But outside of home he has to try fit in with the Canadian mainstream. White liberals do not encourage minorities to identify with both cultures. It’s really an outcome of racism. Until racism disappears, then minorities will continue to identify with both cultures—their forbears and the Canadian.

  • dim mak

    Amen to that.

    You’re different, and that’s grounds enough for discrimination in any human society. But don’t sweat it, just be what you are. Chinese, mixed heritage, mixed nationality, mixed culture, whatever. If it takes a while to explain, then so be it. Don’t cave to other people trying to define you – that’s your job.

  • DanO

    identity can be stirred up into a whole concoction of things and racism will always exist as long as there are uneducated pots of people. I’m being honest, and not trying to sound like an arrogant dick – but educating our youth about the variety of identities will make our global society so much more of a cohesive environment. These niche identities, like being Canadian-Chinese or Irish-American like myself, helps us understand where we come from, who we are, and hopefully how to become better, and more global citizens.

    China has its own system of “being Chinese” (i.e. the fuzhou stereotypes), and people are proud of coming from their different provinces and regions. No one is just Chinese-Chinese, and no one is just Irish-Irish. We all have our niche identities, and understanding that will help help you cultivate a much holistic perspective on things

  • Jay K.

    Stop crying like a little bitch, and playing the I got raped in the ass card; even your photo on this looks like a poster child for serial rapists.

    Don’t be so overly sensitive, grow some thick skin. As I’ve stated before many times in these board/sites my dad used to tell me “son you are the mixed blooded you could be the poster boy for every hate group wanting to belittle you”<–yes chinese, filipino, jewish, spanish blood…."so if it ever comes down to it, punch first, ask questions later" as my dad would say. take that into heart, even if your ass gets beat the more you confront others for them being blatantly discriminant of you the more they will fear u later just for the fact you stuck up to yourself.

    stop being a whiny bitch

    • The Dude

      I whole heartedly agree!

      Man, (to him not, not you Jay.k) why don’t you try being black, then know what real discrimination is like.

      ..or fat.. or short.. or … man, whatever.

      Grow a pair son, and quick!

      These articles are really tiresome. I get it that some Chinese have difficulty in a western country coming to terms with things… but… we all have to come to terms with things.

      I came to terms with the fact I’m ugly a long time ago… you’re Richard Gere compared to me…. does it stop me? Does it ***k!

      ‘It’s not the hand you are dealt, but the way you play it.’


      • lol

        I agree that he should stop complaining.

        But being black is not bad at all. If I were black and had the same grades, I would easily get in Ivy League schools. Affirmative action works the opposite way for asians, who on average score higher than white and much higher than black/hispanic peers at top schools.

        • Silent observer

          Nice stereotype lo……..asshole

          • Steve Puckett

            Truth well spoken, in the U S East Asians, Whites and males are discriminated against by law to help negro & hispanic people. THAT IS THE TRUTH “Silent observer”, you must be black “asshole”

    • Alex

      He’s not being a “whiny bitch” at all, but rather simply articulating his emotions, views and experiences much better and more productively than what your father told you to do. “…punch first, ask questions later” – yes, that is a very intelligent way to go about life…and in fact it may work until one day you realize you’re punching for the wrong reasons, or the wrong people. Truth be told, your post is more whiny than the OP’s post. Take that into account before belittling someone’s expression.

      The only way to combat discrimination is to not be so sensitive to it. Firstly, someone will always hate you for whatever reason; and frankly even good and decent people have prejudices. Secondly, do something about it (which you did by writing this), but realize that inaction is the greatest companion to ignorance and fear! And lastly, realize that 99.9% of the times, those that make fun of others are truly just empty inside from shit happening in their own lives.

      • Jay K.

        alex, never in my post did i say i had always used the tactic of “punch first, ask questions later” use some logic into the idea of knowing when to strike and when not to. you’re assuming that in everything i do i do it in this manner, not quite..not quite.

        let’s just say i know when to be aggressive and when to be poise, when to sit back and see what the 3rd party results are and then act on it.

        in a sense I will quote perhaps one of the greatest diplomats of the Star Trek universe, Captain Jean Luc Picard:

        “(We’ve made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again.) The line must be drawn here! This far and no further!”

        and yes I am proud to be a star trek nerd!

        • Meh, I’m used to it.
          It’s the internet, let it be.

  • hooots

    Everybody is different in one way or another. Being different doesn’t make you special. You must use your differences to your advantage. Everyone gets bullied, or made fun of at somepoint in their life, but you gotta just shake it off and not let it get you down. Use those negative experiences as learning experiences about life and the way to deal with people.

    Everyone has insecurities and ignorances of some sort, and many times they vent them onto other people. You have to take what comes, roll with the punches, and come out stronger because of it.

    I got bullied in highschool because I didn’t dress like everyone else, and I was really into music and in the band. By senior year I was voted most musical and was dating a cheerleader. Take what you’ve got and work it! You only hurt yourself if you let what others say and do get to you.

    Now I live and work in China and am SUPER different. But, it doesn’t bother me. I get stares and comments but it doesn’t bring about negative feelings in me at all. Everyone gets discriminated against somehow in some part of the world. Racism exists EVERYWHERE and in EVERY CULTURE. Get used to it and use your unique qualities to better yourself and those around you.

    There are millions of kids in China that would kill to have the opportunities you do. I know because I talk to them everyday. I help them to be able to have the opportunities you have. They would kill to be able to fluently speak two languages and to have friends in a foreign country. Be thankful for what your parents have provided for you, seize this opportunity life has presented you, and be a positive presence in the world. Complaining will get you nowhere.

  • Nilerafter24

    Discrimination is a result of humans looking at differences instead of similarities.
    I really like your article and it seems you’re a really open-minded guy. Unfortunately the whole world has a long way to go before they become truly accepting of people from different places.
    I’m African. And I study in Beijing. I’ve lived in South Africa, England, Belgium and so many other places but in each and every one I’ve faced discrimination of some form.
    Here it’s almost on a daily basis. But I thank God for that and cause I’ve developed a thick skin.
    Don’t ever lose your pride in your ethnicity. We can’t choose the colour of our skin, our height, our appearance or anything else physical for that matter.
    We can only choose to make the most of our lives, doing what’s right and judging the people we encounter based on character, not stereotypes.
    You don’t represent the whole of China, and no matter what people say, you’re Canadian and should be proud of that too.
    The battle against racism will be won one day. And guys like you will be the heroes.

    • Silent observer

      You are exactly right man. Thank the heavens for people like you.

  • JSakamoto

    It’s times like this when I’m glad I grew up in Hawaii where there’s no real dominant culture based on race. If anything asian culture is more dominant so I never had any problems being asian. I take this attitude where ever I go.

    Another thing is I don’t really give a fuck what anyone thinks about me as long as I live my life according to my principles. I have experience with many different types of people (white, black asian, mixed, hispanic, ect.) and I swear asians have got to stop being so nice and obedient and worrying how others percieve them and whether they fit in or not. Just live your life according to your values, if others don’t like it than they can go to hell.

  • Interested

    All the shit about China is to bring down your ego. White people are the best salesmen. You can not reason your way out of psychological depression imposed by them. Just think westerners are salesmen. Your mind will be tough to deal with that.

  • xiaojie

    fight against racism huh?lol. maybe you should read some of the racist comments by chinese people on this forums or even listen to the utterances of its local people while you walk on the street. i am glad you are suffereing it all the time.sad thing is you will forget about this and start being racist against another race.chinese poeple are extremely racist and extremely cunning.

  • Pat

    You better watch that “pride” shit, little boy. You keep being as proud as you are over your ethnicity and one day you’ll see extremist organizations convincing your average wanker the merits of things like “white pride” and “Canadian Heritage”.

    When you say you are proud to be Chinese your are condoning the attitudes of violent, divisive political entities who are interested in hurting not only you, but the foundations of democracy and human rights.

    Then only advice I can give you is to take a hard, straight shot of ole’ kentucky man-the-fuck-up. Find real reasons to be proud – reasons like your accomplishments and the contributions you have made to society. Sorry the kids were mean to you. They were mean to everybody.

  • yuan

    fuck thst shit mif you are proud of chinese remove the canada part! and besides,come to your country to clear that air of how much chinese treat black race in there country!so dont complain what goes around comes around

  • Steve Puckett

    I’m a white American father w/ 3 beautiful children who’s mother imigrated to the U S as my wife. I worried a little bit how my children would be accepted and found no problem at all. I suppose one reason could be that we are near Los Angeles and my childrens schools are very multi cultural/racial.
    In high school, some students call my eldest “Bruce Lee”, my son takes it as a compliment as he holds Black Belts in three martial arts. He’s also referred to as the “smartest kid in school” but again he’s not upset about. In the U S , Chinese and in fact all east asians are considered intellident, non-violent, hard workers. What a terrible stereo type, right ?
    My second son and young daughter are treated much the same.
    My concern is not discrimination here in the U S. My concern is how my children will be treated & discriminated against in China. Thet are all learning to be fluent in Chinese and learning STEM skills that we are sure will be valuable in a mighty and growing China. So while this young man worries about his percieved and superficial discriminations , how do you think Chinese in China will treat my children ?????????

    • Silent observer

      God I hate people like you. You, the one who worries about discrimination against your own children, but turn around and call people of color “negroes” and you damn well know it’s offensive. And let me tell you why America has Affirmative Action. Because of people like you, who still live in the past and think this is the 60’s south. Because of people like you who still lump people of color in the same category. I hate Affirmative Action…but it is needed because people like you, who also even has a multiracial family continues to be ignorant when it comes to other culture.

      Let me tell you something. Your Chinese wife most likely married you because you are white and saw advantage. My wife and I married each other because we loved each other….despite the fact that in China I had trouble getting jobs because the parents didn’t want blacks teaching their children, or that Chinese home stay parents specifically told agencies, no black students could stay at their home…but whites were welcomed as Gods.

      Maybe that’s why we need Affirmative Action. I bet you don’t know a lick of Chinese?

      I do….but you would be opened up to a lot more opportunities than I. So please no more sob stories about how you think you will be perceived in China. Because if my bi-racial child went to play with your youngest I’m betting you would quicklynscoop her/him away.

      By 2040 whites will be the minority in America, and it is you who will be needing Affirmative Action. You just remember that buddy.

  • This is by far the stupidest post I’ve ever made. But people are free to have their opinions. :D

  • Bob Dillon

    Discrimination is one of the deficits of being a human being and one that I alo dont like. When I am in China I am sometimes also called names because I am Canadian and Caucasian. For me…water off a duck’s back as we say back home. Where ever you go if you are black, white, yellow or red or brown or colours in between the staus quo is always set against the minority. Its called gang mentality because you are NOT THIER NORMAL. Educations is the key and standing up for yourself in the face of adversity takes intestinal fortitute. (guts)

  • bob

    lol canada…

  • Jeffli

    Welcome to the wrist slashing club!
    be honest with yourself do what you want and try not to harm others.

    now theres a start

    and then it won’t be you against society,
    it will be you with your friends (what ever your friends background)

    If you can’t get over this hurdle how do you expect others to?

  • RIck in China

    I do.

    I always respond: I am english-scottish-danish-spanish-canadian but my mom was born in Argentina!

    It’s always more clear and honest that way!

  • wgh999

    Well written. I’m British Chinese and will never give that identity up. I proud of being Chinese as well as British.

    • RIck in China

      How do you determine to put British before Chinese? Why not Chinese British? Does it matter?

      I guess the standard could be defined as the American standard, as one of the earlier very-multicultural-places to be. African-American, Latino-American, Chinese-American…. does this mean you’re a British ethnically but then became a Chinese citizen?

      HOLD ON TO YOUR HERITAGE! It’s SO important.*yawn*

  • Derek Xu

    It is a well-known fact that black criminals in San Francisco target Asians because (a) they are likely to have money in their pocket, and (b) they are less likely to report the crime to police than other ethnic groups. Racist black people.

    • SilentObserver

      Derek, of course its a fact if your people…

      A) Set up restaurants and liquor stores in predominately black neighborhoods.

      B) Hoard all your money with a “hurry up and buy” attitude

      C) Don’t bother to learn about the culture around you, or never bother to spend money in the community where you make so much money from…

      We all know Chinese look up to and want to emulate whites, but look down upon their own people and other races.

      I would rob your ass too….racist Chinese people.

    • Meh

      Okay. What does this have to do with anything?

    • Sponge Monkey

      “Racist black people”

      So you’re saying that all black people are racist. That’s a little… oh nevermind…

  • davd

    dude cut the sob story.
    racism is part of human nature and you should be far more concerned with how all of us can grow from the immature pond of ooze into a world that no longer judges a person by the color of his skin.

    Oh, sorry that was a make believe tv show.

  • rollin wit 9’s

    Fck him! Deal with it b!tch.
    “I repeatedly find myself explaining that I’m Canadian to other people.”

    and few of my friends from the states tell Chinese people here they are not african but just black american and the chinese deny it. now you know what it feels like. Suck it up. And your not Canadian. I dont care if he is 1st gen. You are Chi-fcking-neese.
    Go by yourself a ricer and fit in!

  • Rod

    Sounds like a typical day in China to me. I guess being white in China has a lot of ‘positive’ racial stereotypes, but its still f*ing annoying.

    We have big noses.
    We like bread.
    We’re so ‘open’.
    We’re all fat.
    We can’t speak Chinese.

    And the list goes on.

    • Frank Zappa

      exactly, but there’s more. don’t ever dare to think that you’ll ever can be chinese-something, you’ll always be a fucking 洋鬼子. and also your child. so really make me laugh to see chinese-something that complain about the way the people judge them in other countries.. it’s alway far way better than for foreigner in china.

  • nameless

    Blame your predecessors for that, not the rest of the world, theres nothing you can do. You will always be looked at the same way by the “GUO WAI”. You can however go back to china and join the force of resource wasting, racist, copy cat fools. I dont care if Ayrton Senna was chinese, and i dont care if you were born in the white house, i will still think you cant drive. And at 3 am when im fucking hammered out of my mind i will still think you gave me cat meat with that fried rice. And when your lady wears that LV bag, imma think its fake even if she paid 3k for it. So STFU and save me the stress of reading your worthless article. wear your hat and gum boots with pride!

    • nameless

      Alternatively, you can.
      1. loose the fucking 1980 jackie chan movie pimp suit purchased from your moms friend in back alley china town.
      2. Dont let your mom place a bowl on your head and cut around it. MAN GOTO MAGIC CUTS If you dont have the barber hook up.

      Look at that hottie behind you, Do you really think she will give you the goods with that look? .. Im not talking about the granny!
      I mean you want to live in another country but make your own country within it. Not possible. You gotta embrace others, their sports, their food, their entertainment.
      INTEGRATE BRO! Jimmy you doing it all wrong bro!

  • Don’t Believe the Hype

    wow, this guy must get bullied at school for otehr reasons, i’m guessing

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