‘…And then to break her heart forever, the baby boy who has begun to talk, starts to sing the Pepsi commercial he heard on T.V.
No speak English, she says to the child who is singing in the language that sounds like tin. No speak English, no speak English, and bubbles into tears. No, no, no as if she can’t believe her ears.’
– The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros.
Whilst we all try to embrace our own culture and heritage, it becomes lost in the society we live in. On the surface I appear to be Chinese, but the foundation of my ideals and norms are clearly Westernised. To recall a conversation I once had with my aunt:
Aunt: ‘You’re such a banana’
Me: ‘Excuse me?’
Aunt: ‘Yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.’
When I now reflect on my identity, I like how I am the product of two cultures. Throughout my childhood I was always trying to escape racism, denying my ethnicity and insisting on speaking English at home. In hindsight I wish I had embraced my differences, then maybe DS would have the opportunity to understand his Chinese heritage. My inability to converse in my mother tongue is an embarrassment to me. I want so much for DS to be able to speak two languages as eloquently as I once was.
Despite not being as Chinese as I would like to be, I am thankful for the small part of me that does remember my cultural differences. We do not choose where we are born or our ethnic origin; I feel lucky to be born in a country that provides so many opportunities and aspirations, whilst still clutching tightly onto the remains of a culture that originates in a part of a world less fortunate.