American Born Chinese – 美國土生華人

About “American Born Chinese” blog

Welcome to my American Born Chinese (ABC) blog! I decided to start this journal because, just like many other ABCs, we have dealt with the constant issue of cultural assimilation in the United States. Many of us are second-generation Chinese U.S. citizens having had first-generational parents who immigrated here from mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan after the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 loosened its grip on enforced policies regarding immigration from East Asia.

The term “American Born Chinese” is commonly coined with the acrynom “ABC” just as “BBC” is a term for British Born Chinese and “CBC” for Canadian Born Chinese. Often, overseas Chinese labeled with these terms are regarded as individuals who are removed from their own culture as not having adequate understanding of Chinese traditions/customs and values and also not being able to speak the native tongue (Mandarin, Cantonese, etc.) very proficiently, much less read and write in the language. For ABCs particularly, the Chinese population living on the coastal regions of the U.S. have a greater tendency to attain a stronger connection to the Chinese culture and influence due to the continual immigration of Chinese to these areas, thus, leading to the expanding populations of Chinese communities in states such as California and New York.

Assimilation into the mainstream culture is often the typical commonality prevalent among Asians or any other ethnic groups that have been born and raised in the U.S. for the majority (if not all) of their lives. Therefore, many have blended into the societal values and culture of the “host” country, and some have been viewed as seemingly having denied their heritage identity as a result. The derogatory terminology “banana,” and “Twinkie” are the common characteristics that reflect the “white-washed” tendencies of these ABCs – yellow on the outside, yet white on the inside.

The term “cultural assimilation,” as defined by Wikipedia, is “is an intense process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are “absorbed” into an established, generally larger community. This presumes a loss of many characteristics which make the newcomers different.” (Source)

Personally, I have been born into a family in which my parents both immigrated with their own families from Hong Kong in the 1960’s and attended high school and college in the U.S. I was born in San Francisco, California and have lived in this state for the entirety of my life without ever stepping foot in my native homeland. Growing up, I attended American-English school without having been sent to Chinese school when I was younger, so I didn’t start learning how to read/write Chinese until my Freshman year in college when I took a course in Mandarin Chinese. So what makes you so interested in Chinese culture? you might ask…

Well, to tell you the truth, it might be a number of factors. It may be the fact that I took a course called “Chinese American Personality” during the first college semester of my Sophomore year and that perhaps elevated my interests in discovering my heritage roots. It may also be the fact that I’ve befriended a number of Asian born friends in college who indirectly taught me the importance of realizing my own cultural background as Chinese, and that is my ethnic identity. Or it may even perhaps be the fact that I live in a urban enclave with a large Chinese community and that may have a lot of influence as well.

Through postings in this journal and the rambling of my thoughts, I hope to not only bridge the existing gaps between Eastern and Western cultures, but establish a consciousness of the importance of realizing one’s own cultural identity – whether you may be Asian, Caucasian, Middle-Eastern, African, Latin…or whatever! In this particular blog, I will touch up on a variety of categories and aspects within both U.S. and Chinese cultures – including entertainment, food, news, the Chinese language, Eastern/Western lifestyles, and much more!

This blog will ultimately reflect the journey of this ABC in the cultural exploration of her Asian American and Chinese identity. Stay tuned for future postings!

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1 Comment »

  1. I was doing some research on the web to find some American-born Chinese voices out there and came across your blog, and was very interested to hear about your thoughts and hear about your experiences as an ABC (re: June 5 posting.)

    I am in a unique situation as I am a British-born Chinese person, raised and educated in England (parents are from Hong Kong) who immigrated to the United States several years ago and I am bringing up my two American-born children. Therefore, I am very interested to find out about the Chinese-American experience and how it’s similar or different to my experience growing up in the UK.

    I write for an award winning website for British-born and British-based Chinese called dimsum.co.uk. I started my regular column for the website with a piece called: “BBC or ABC-it’s all about identity.” I think my piece will add to your discussion about identity. Check out: http://www.dimsum.co.uk/

    My aim is to write about two articles a month for the website based on my experiences (both in the UK and in the States) and the challenges of bringing up my children with a sense of their Chinese identity.

    I think you and your readers would be interested in the dimsum website in general. It is a great source of interesting discussions such as this.

    Good luck with your blog and I look forward to reading more entries.

    Comment by Susan S. Cheung — July 19, 2007 @ 12:16 pm


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