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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