MOST CLOTHING LOANED FROM CHANEL
Like many millennial children-of-immigrants who were embarrassed and ashamed of their cultures and so thus adopted whiteness as a way to fit in, I had virtually no interest in learning Mandarin or learning about what it meant to be Chinese. My parents spoke English at home (they had no choice, my mom speaks Cantonese and my dad speaks Foochow) and aside from my brief stint practicing Wushu as a teenager, I didn’t have too many ties to my Chinese-ness.
Now that I’m 28, I can say with full confidence that I am proud to be Chinese (although let us not conflate this with pride in the CCP) and have a firm one-handed grasp on the invisible tether that anchors me to over 5000 years of history and culture. But my pride in being Chinese is most-times accompanied by memories of shame in being Chinese-Canadian and not just Canadian (aka white because white has always been the standard). I was fortunate enough growing up to not have experienced any instances of overt racism laced with hate and hostility, but the messaging was still raining down all around me – no matter how many times I chose to disown my otherness by hating Kpop or my flat nose and wiry, black hair that would never backcomb the way I wanted it to, I still looked other and therefore lesser.
Thinking back, I don’t think I truly figured out how to love my Chinese-ness and thus my own self until I was well into my 20s. I’m still trying to unlearn what years of internalized racism instilled in me! But alas, reclaiming my Chinese-ness is a process that inspired me to restart my Mandarin lessons after a decade and a half, and letting an app ruin that for me would simply be a pity. Now, excuse me as I practice reading “我一共要买6个”.