• Hi

    You are not American, nor are you Chinese, but you are also both American and Chinese.

  • Bryce


    I found your piece to be very moving. I am a fifth generation half-Cape Verdean, half-African American, studying abroad in Harbin, China, as I type this comment. Growing up I always felt torn between my Cape Verdean ancestry and my African American ancestry. Most Americans I’d talk to would say, “Oh, your family dad’s family is from Africa and your mom’s is black, so aren’t you just black?” Though as you know Cape Verde is a very different place from my side of the family who are the descendants of American southern slaves, most Americans don’t grasp this.

    Also while in China much like you reconnected with your Chinese roots in Cabo Verde, I reconnected with my Cabo Verde roots in China. I’ve met quite a few Cape Verdean students studying in China. All of which have close ties with their families that have emigrated to a America. Not only do I now have a better understanding of my ancestry, but I feel more confident in confronting this misconception of my ancestry I often get from Americans black and white. As a member of a community that is barely 1 million strong, with more living abroad than in the mother country, its few and far between that I come across another Cape Verdean that is not related to me.

    Though I do feel confused and harbor strange feelings about my mixed ancestry as you do about your’s, I try to take solice in being an American as much as possible. Because at the end of the day, as a fifth generation Cape Verdean, I know my Great-Great Grandfather that came to America would have wanted to see that. Once again thank you for a great article!

    • Bryce, thanks for your comments. It’s always interesting how you sometimes have to get away from what you’re used to, to really start to learn more about yourself. That’s very cool that you’re able to meet up with Cape Verdean students in China. When I was in Cape Verde, I was trying to find and meet up with folks who had studied in China, because I was really interested to hear their impressions, since I already knew what sort of impression many Cape Verdeans had of the Chinese shopkeepers. I hope you’re enjoying your time there!

    • anon

      This comment is great. What are the chances of a Cape Verdean reading chinaSMACK? And a Diaspora author having been to Cape Verdean? It’s a little mind-boggling.

      • Bryce

        You forgot to mention that I’m a Cape Verdean-American who’s studying abroad in Harbin, China right now!

  • TAKE5

    Wow, gerat story. I am impressed by you and Bryce. My nephew is half Black and Chinese. He is American by birth but his parent teach him both cultures. People of mixed race/cultures are unique. Most want identify them as Black or Chinese, anything but White or American. Truth is they are mixed race; totally unique.

  • Pingback: Read me at chinaSMACK. « Mamasans Carryout()

  • Peter

    Interesting. People too often define themselves and others via their ethnic identity – Though cultural influences are important – you are you. That is enough, IMO.

    • Peter, I think the issue isn’t that we define ourselves and others by ethnic/cultural identity; it’s the very fact that we define ourselves by, and in relation to, others. From the moment we’re born, someone is our parent, someone else is the doctor, that kid is your friend, that person is your teacher, and so on. We all get (to some degree or another) socialized to be individuals, but it’s hard to escape all the broader contexts that we’re part of. So, I am just me. But I can’t help, for better or worse, to be part of something larger. And maybe, since race/ethnicity/culture can be so personal, it seems like we end up dwelling on it more than other aspects of ourselves.

      • TAKE5

        Well said Andrew.

  • someasiandude

    “In my elementary school, there was one other student who spoke Mandarin, and we avoided each other like the plague so as not to be too obliviously branded as outsiders.”

    This is SO true. Whenever I meet a new group of friends and one of them happens to be Asian, she’s the last person I want to talk to and vice versa. Years of subtle racism have been internalized… It’s sad.

    • It’s interesting because I’ve noticed in recent years, I tend to do the opposite of what I did when growing up. I get very interested if I meet new people, and one or some of them have a Chinese background. I feel like I want to connect with them on some level, even if we’re having a superficial conversation. Part of this could be because of my reignited interest in my own background, but some of it is also probably the internalizing of the bias that because we both have a Chinese background, we have something in common.

  • revoltingbrain

    Chinese people are everywhere man.

  • Jennifer Bardi


    I know one thing you are: a damn fine writer.

    Great story!

  • Da Troof

    The Tragic ABC. Not Chinese enough to be Chinese, Not American enough to be American.

    We’ve just gotta flip a perceived “disadvantage” to be a real advantage.

  • Tommy Zhong

    You are a fat disgusting slob. Fuck you and fuck Africa.

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