To be mixed and a woman meant my appearance was of the foremost importance to everyone around me…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-30 02:47Z by Steven

To be mixed and a woman meant my appearance was of the foremost importance to everyone around me ― my mother’s friends would revel in things like how big my eyes were, how petite my lips were or how fit my body looked, but rarely mention my academic accomplishments or opinions except for within the context of my American identity. “Her Chinese scores were higher than Chinese kids! Isn’t it a marvel!” one friend exclaimed, as if I didn’t receive the same education or similar upbringing as her monoracial Chinese child. Other aunties would tell my mom that my academic talent came not from hard work, but from my Jewish ancestry. “Youtairen (Jewish people in Mandarin) are just smart,” they would say. I had no idea what Judaism even was.

Gen Slosberg, “How I Finally Learned To Accept Both My Chinese And Jewish Identities,” The Huffington Post, May 23, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/im-chinese-and-jewish-and-always-wanted-to-claim-one-identity_us_5b044e95e4b0740c25e5e2af.

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How I Finally Learned To Accept Both My Chinese And Jewish Identities

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2018-05-28 23:07Z by Steven

How I Finally Learned To Accept Both My Chinese And Jewish Identities

The Huffington Post
2018-05-22

Gen Slosberg
Guest Writer

To be mixed and a woman meant my appearance was of the foremost importance to everyone around me.
Gen Slosberg
To be mixed and a woman meant my appearance was of the foremost importance to everyone around me.

Growing up in China, I never quite understood why I didn’t fit in.

I ate Chinese food, went to Chinese school, had Chinese friends and did Chinese things. I memorized poems and Confucius passages at school and learned how to play the zither. At night, my grandma would sit next to my bed, fan away mosquitoes with her bamboo fan and sing nursery rhymes about the summer rain in Cantonese. On weekends, I would wake up early to watch my neighbor roll dumpling dough and my mom cut green onions into small pieces for the filling.

What little exposure I had to American culture was when my Jewish-American father would come home after monthslong business trips and read me Dr. Seuss. Until I was 15, my understanding of America consisted of vague memories of The Boy and The Apple Tree, summer trips to my dad’s hometown Portland, Maine, where his white relatives would look at me in wonder and express concern for my broken English.

I was, as far as I understood, Chinese. But as far as everyone else in China was concerned, I was only white, Jewish and American because of my father. For reasons incomprehensible to me at the time, I was “different” in the eyes of those in a society so emphatic about its homogeneity…

Read the entire article here.

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