I have always felt that I have belonged to and was a part of the group, especially in the schools I was in both in Hong Kong and here in Philadelphia. While in Hong Kong there was only a little diversity and sometimes it was hard for me to be a part of the society. For one I have always enjoyed listening to American music while most people in Hong Kong listened to Asian Music. Also they have the different issues between Hong Kong and America as what I watch in youtube. So in that case it was difficult to relate. But in America, I didn’t have these issues because in America they watch and listen the same things as me, so it made it easier to belong to a group in America.
In my school, students accepted you no matter a person’s race, skin color or physical problem, so it was easy to be with others who shared the same interest. For me, I have many friends in the school that always talk to me, do homework and fun things together. This gives me the feeling that school is my other home. But when I was outside the school, the my belonging changed really fast.
The people will always judge your skin color, then they will think all the negative they know to look down at me. The worst things are the people who look down based on skin color, they group all the Asian together without recognizing that they are all from different countries. Where I came from – Hong Kong – it has different systems than China. To a person with enough knowledge, they would know the difference between Hong Kong and China, but to a person who doesn't have this knowledge, they will think they are all same. In my experience, the people who know the place Hong Kong will think people from Hong Kong know more English than people from China. And also they will use stereotype to talk about you.
“What is your identity?” It took me a long time to find the answer to this question. Some people said that it is easy to find your identity, it’s just based on where you are born. But I don't think it is that easy for me. I am different than the other students in my class. I came to America two years ago – I should have said I came “back” to America two years ago. After I came back to America, I always said “I am not American, but I was born here.” It just like a quote that I read, “You’re Chinese, but I’m not,” he told me, with certainty. “But I eat Chinese food.” It is saying though my parents are Chinese, but I am not the same as my parents. This quote can be used to reflect what I thought back there. Time passed, and I learned more about my background. But most importantly, I now know more about myself, and about my identity. So now I can finally answer what my identity is to anyone.
My answer to the question “what is your identity?” is I am an Asian-American. How did I find this answer? It took me 15 years to answer but I finally understand it. When I was only starting to know about my identity I only knew I am an Asian. I was born in Hong Kong and, I knowy mother’s language is Cantonese. Those are what makes up my identity. Also it did not take a long time to change my mindset until my parents told me that I was born in America which is the opposite side of where we live in Hong Kong. After hearing that, my mindset has changed. I always asked myself “Was I Asian? Or was I something else? f I was someone else, should my mother’s language should not be Cantonese, then what is it?”
When I was in grade 8, I finally had the answer of why I was in Hong Kong if I was born in America. It was because my parents did not want me to remember the ugly side of Chinese history. So they went to America before I was born, to not remember the history of China. After that, my mindset has changed again to the question of my race, am I Asian or am I American? This question was asked to me after I came back to America. I did not get the answer immediately. Then I finally got it one year after I came back, the answer is neither Asian nor American it is Asian-American. So if a person asked me “what is your identity?” right now, I would said “I am an Asian-American, I born in America but I moved to Hong Kong to study, and after three months I was born. Then I came back to America in the year 2017.”
But to the society, my identity is just another Asian-American that was born in America to get the benefit from America. Some of them will just look down at me. They will think since I was not from America, my English is trash and I don’t even know English. They will use all the negative things to say about you, just like your belonging.
At the end, all I can say is, I do not care! I don’t care how you look at me, if you hate me. I will live like you, eat like you, learn like you. I will keep using my answer to identity and belonging to live in America. I will keep being an Asian-American.