Monday, 5 September 2011
No, this is not an ode to the banana rather a reflection of the self.
I am a Banana if ever there was one.
Simple. My skin is yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Physically, I look and am of Asian race but deep down I am pretty much a white person.
It seems a fitting comparison especially now that bananas cost a mini fortune here in Brisbane – for it would cost a lot to buy me and my taste often verge on wastefully pretentious.
Now a banana isn’t exactly stark white on the inside and nor am I but knowing nothing but my life in Australia my culture, values and morals tend to align with that of the true blue Aussie. I am an Australian Born Chinese (ABC) if ever there was one!
Yes I often eat Asian cuisine, I celebrate Asian events – Chinese New Year, moon festival, I can use chopsticks and I uphold many values such as respecting your elders, respecting (if not always) my parents, taking your shoes off when entering a home and being generally polite and subservient.
But here are a few (or many) things very non Asian of me – I cannot speak an Asian language, I have very few Asian friends, never part of the all Asian groups at school, I am horrible at maths and science, I sometimes disobey my parents, I am not studying a tertiary education in medicine, dentistry or law and I certainly am not turned on by the feminine Asian male, I stand up for people getting off the bus and politely talk to strangers and I obey pedestrian crossings and do not walk at a glacial pace in the middle of the road or pathway, I chew with my mouth closed, I don’t wear bomber jackets in the middle of summer, I don’t buy whitening creams for my skin and I care not for caked on makeup – especially poorly applied false lashes and foundation two shades too light. I could go on about my disobeying Asian stereotypes but I think you get the picture.
Also, I would just like to say that being racist to my own race is wholly acceptable. And even then I mean it in complete jest. We all somewhat conform to stereotypes and as long as we take them with a grain of salt I believe it is a respectful laugh at ourselves.
You stumble across obstacles when you are a banana – people expect you can speak Chinese or any other Asian language – I find this utterly offensive. You live in an English speaking country so speak English! You can’t preconceive what someone’s first language might be so speak the national one fools! Do I often find myself regretting not having the diligence to learn Chinese – yes, all the time – this is another topic entirely but the point of it is I can’t speak another language and I shouldn’t be assumed to in an English speaking country.
Your first greeting should always be in the nation’s tongue.
I think I have it pretty well. Knowing both sides – having valued two cultures my whole life has shaped me into what I would like to view as accepting of all cultures and mostly very understanding. I have been given an enriched cultural education and one I will continue on learning.
Anyway the crux of it is that I like how I have grown up; I more than cherish both sides of the spectrum. On the occasions where I have been victim to racism I have never dared stand up for my Australian heritage (conservative and introvert being one Asian quality or hindrance I do abide by). But for many I am probably more eligible to call myself Australian then them. Fourth generation on my dad’s side we have been born in and have breathed Aussie air for decades. Being Australian is all I have ever known and all that I am proud to be.
I was wholly offended when someone once asked me who I back in a sporting match between Australia and England… Do I really pay out Australia that much? Do I really idolise and obsess over England to that extent! I was scared at how people might see me. I was frightened at what I have said, I was feeling as if I had let my own country down – remember I am prone to exaggeration.
Yes I love England but I am not English and I never will be (even if I do marry an Englishman ;) ) I will continue supporting Australia till the day I die and England will always place second (no matter what I might say, or where I might end up living). In reality I’m not sure I will settle in England (if I ever got the chance) for Australia is honest to God the lucky country. If I am truly frank with myself Australia is where I belong – the weather, the people and heck even the places – we might not have all that grandeur and night life, we may not have big city status, endless culture and historical value but we have heart. I know I verge on dry retching corny sometimes but Australia is a beautiful country – it is the little, vibrant and young island that could – it is the land that ventures far and wide; it is the place I call home.
If my future job takes me places, if I get to travel half of the year – well I’m certainly not complaining but as the plane lands on Australian soil I will always feel a sense of true belonging, I will always cherish what I have always had.
Australia is my home and if the saying is true – it is the place my heart will always be.
I love my sunburnt country!