Chinese Americans tend to keep their separate identity In the United States, there are multiple hyphenated Americans groups, such as African- American, Asian- American, Irish- American, and Indian- American. People hold American nationality, but have a foreign birth or origins tend to identify themselves in some term of Hyphenated Americans. It means that they are not only Americans, but also involve in different ethnicity, religion, language, and culture. Chinese- Americans comprises the largest ethnic group of Asian Americans.
Most of the early Chinese workers immigrated from Guangdong province in China for the Gold Rush (“Chinese Immigrants and the Gold Rush”, n. d. ). Since 1865, lots of Chinese worker come to the United States and worked on the famous Transcontinental Railroad project. The Chinese also worked as small merchants, gardener, laundry workers, farmers, and so on. More and more Chinese Americans immigrated with their children from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan(“Chinese Historycal Society of Southern California”, 2010).
The Chinese Americans try to keep their Chinese culture, language, and community, and they tend to retain the separate identity. Chinese Americans tend to live together in their own culture community. According to the 2010 census, the Chinese American population was around 3. 8 million, and half of them lived either in California or New York (“Race Reporting for the Asian Population by Selected Categories: 2010”, 2010 ). The Chinatown in San Francisco was the oldest and largest Chinese community in the United States.
People can find Chinese culture elements everywhere in the Chinatown, for example, herbal shops, temples, dragon parades, Chinese book store, Chinese restaurant, Chinese language school, and even Chinese hospital. People living in the Chinatown communicate in Chinese language, and live exactly the same life style as people in China. Chinese Americans in New York also have such community in the Flushing area, know as Chinatown. There are Chinese transportation companies; travel agencies, and Chinese language school also. Almost every child in Chinese American family has attended Chinese language school after their regular school time.
Their parents want them to keep ancestor’s culture, so they will always remember that they are rooted in China. There is a Columbus Chinese Christian Church in Columbus Ohio. Every Sunday, thousands of Chinese American Christians living in Columbus get together and model in the bible through teaching, music, and worship. After the teaching, people share a big dinner of Chinese food. Most of them speak Chinese, and only the new generations who were born in America prefer to speak English. Many of the old immigrated Chinese American even cannot speak English at all.
Even though the kids speak English with each other, they can still speak frequently in Chinese with their parents. Chinese Americans stay in their own community to retain their culture, language, and customs. Chinese Americans are pride of their ethnic and culture. Music and dance are the common language among all human being. Chinese Americans hold Shen Yun performances all around the United States to spread Chinese art and music. Every year, students can see posts about Shen Yun performance on the wall around the OSU campus. The video Shen Yun 2013 Trailer on the Shen Yun website also shows some significant parts of the performance.
Dancers wearing different styles of Chinese traditional ancient clothes performed the Chinese cultures of different dynasty and different ethics. The music play by Chinese traditional instruments was as good as the dancing. As it said in the video, the aim of the performance is to revive 5000 years of divine civilization. It shows Chinese Americans’ strong sense of pride of Chinese culture. Many of the new generation of Chinese American, which is also known as American born Chinese (ABC), had a hard time to define themselves identity.
A short story named “The Paper Menagerie” written by Ken Liu won the 2012 Hugo Awards. This short, bittersweet story describe Ken suffered a pain of having a Chinese born mom who was different with every else’s mom, also, whose accent and broken sentences embarrassed him (Ken, 2012). His mom taught him Chinese, cooked Chinese food, and made him Chinese tradition paper animals as toys. She liked to see the Chinese parts in her son. However, he hated his chink face and all the other Chinese parts from his mother. He refused to talk to her in Chinese even though she can barely speak English.
After reading her lasting letter inside the paper animals after his mother’s death, Ken finally understand his mother’s life and know how much she loved him (Ken, 2012). There is an America born Chinese girl Amy Tan who define herself a completely American, and she wants nothing to do with China. However, she actually struggled a lot about which country she truly belongs to. Then she had a trip back to China with her mother. Tan said that once she touched Chinese soil, she better understood her connection to the land and to the country.
She finally understood how she belongs to two cultures at the same, which make her accept her hyphenated identity, and view herself as a Chinese American. She said “I discovered how American I was. I also discover how Chinese I was. I discovered a sense of finally belonging to a period of history, which I never felt with American history”. She realized that “Once you were born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese” (Lemontree, n. d. ). Ken and Amy all tried to refuse everything about China, and they want nothing to do with Chinese.
Finally, somehow, they find the way to connect their Chinese heritage and American nationality, and they accept themselves as who they are. American born Chinese new generation all suffered from an unexpected pain of trying to belong. They have Chinese faces; they were mostly raised up in Chinese community and eat Chinese food; they have Chinese friends and their family members speak Chinese at home. They don’t know which nation and culture they truly belong to. Sometime they feel embarrassed about having such a different family, and try to integrate into the American society.
Their parents hope they can hold the hyphenated identity, because they are pride of Chinese ethnic and culture. Young generations always refuse to do so, but the Chinese heritages do exist in their body, and will have influences on their life. They need to honor their ancestor’s culture and accept combination of being Chinese and American. Reference Chinese Historycal Society of Southern California. (2010). Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2012, from http://www. chssc. org/history/histtimeline. html Chinese Immigrants and the Gold Rush (n. d. ). Retrieved on Nov. 21. 2012, from http://www. pbs. rg/wgbh/amex/goldrush/peopleevents/p_chinese. html Ken,L. (2011). The Paper Menagerie. Fantasy & Science Fiction. Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2012, from http://a1018. g. akamai. net/f/1018/19022/1d/randomhouse1. download. akamai. com/19022/pdf/Paper_Menagerie. pdf Lemontree. (n. d. ). Hyphenated Identity: A Long Research Journey, Retrieved on Nov, 21, 2012, from http://ayjw. org/articles. php? id=696640 Race Reporting for the Asian Population by Selected Categories: 2010. (2010). U. S. Census Bureau, Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2012, from http://factfinder2. census. gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview. xhtml
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