My Experience as an ABC
By: Linda Yu
No, ABC does not stand for “already been chewed.” It stands for “American-born Chinese.” Growing up in America with a Chinese background means growing up in two different, clashing cultures, with misconceptions and prejudices on both sides. It can get pretty confusing, being taught from birth that you’re a proud citizen of the United States and then feeling like a complete foreigner when strangers question you about your citizenship status or when you have to fix your parent’s pronunciation.
Before you dismiss any of the negative things on this list as something that would “never happen at HB,” let me remind you that these are my experiences as an ABC but also as an HB girl. In our mission of perfection, we often turn a blind eye to the issues right in front of us. With that in mind, here’s the list of the most memorable moments of ABC-ishness I’ve experienced.
- One word: Chinglish
Or more like one language. Or two, actually. It sounds like a ship name.
- Random person at the grocery store: “Are you from China?”
Me: *has internal conflict about cultural identity* “No.”
Person: *Did-she-just-say-the-earth-is-flat expression*
Me: “Did you come on the Mayflower?”
- When you’re not American enough to be American but you’re not Chinese enough to be Chinese
- Walking into a restaurant full of Americanized, soy-sauce covered, fortune-cookie-full Chinese food…and then the waiters try to correct your (correct) pronunciation of “lo mein”
Well at least I’ve gotten my healthy dose of sodium for the day.
- When conforming to the stereotype is “good”
Society: Conform to stereotypes!
Also society: Fight against stereotypes!
Also society: Be smart! Get good grades!
- Reading the weird Chinese tattoos people get
2. “rice fried by pork oil”
3.“Vegetable” or “greens
Picture comments (Left to Right)
1. I think this one speaks for itself.
2. Strange sentence structure, I must say.
3. I’m not sure how the yellow eyes relate, but at least they’re promoting healthy eating.
- That awkward moment when you’re learning Chinese history in class
- When you found out that the lead voice actor for Kung Fu Panda (Jack Black) isn’t even remotely Asian. Or Chinese.
My favorite “Chinese” character is secretly European. I feel betrayed, movie industry.
- “Indicate your race by filling in the bubble”
Honestly does anyone actually enjoy filling this out? What’s the point of this question?
While we’re on the subject, Asia is a continent, not a country.
- “Don’t they eat dogs in China? Do you eat dogs?” [with a weirded-out expression]
I don’t think it’s the question that’s the problem, it’s the disgust and ignorance surrounding it. Most Chinese people don’t actually eat dogs. But, for those who do, this is what I say: there are different attitudes towards animals, especially in rural areas where animals are livestock, not pets. Some people simply eat a wider range of meats than Americans.
Also: if you think eating dogs is inhumane, you should google the living (and dying) conditions of the 8 billion chickens and 34 million cows killed for the American fast-food industry per year. Just sayin’.
I hope this article gave you some insight to my (fairly common) experiences and thoughts. This is only a short list, but I feel that it touched on the things that are closest to my story and my identity, from the ones that make me laugh to the ones that make me explode. I hope that as we progress, there will be less awkward barriers between “mainstream” society and minority groups, and people in my position can feel good being a part of both worlds. For the time being, I’m proud of being an ABC, struggles and all.