January 24th, 2023
I recently came across the term “Asian diaspora” and it struck a chord with me. It’s because my…origin? identity? birth circumstance?… is called different things by different groups of people. Each of these focuses on me, as an individual.
- To white Americans: I look Asian and therefore I am Asian or to those who know me, Chinese.
- Other people like me: I am Asian American, a sort of political affliation and a pushing forward of our “American-ness”.
- Asians: I am ABC (American-born Chinese) because I am Chinese, but born in America.
I don’t take offense to any of these designations. In their individual contexts, they’re useful shorthands. Still, Chinese diaspora struck me because the term does not just describe my current state but the journey that brought me here. The term diaspora is most closely associated with the Jewish people but are have largely passed (and evolved) their culture and identity despite being generations removed from any geographical roots. The term also doesn’t imply an inevitable return to the homeland, more a memory of a place we were from and that some traumatic event scattered us to the winds. I am here in America because of the “century of humiliation” that rallies so many Chinese nationalists today, a humiliation where America itself was an accomplice.