The Asian-Canadian Dilemma
An informative website about a mutual feeling many Asian-Canadians share
What is the Asian-Canadian identity dilemma?
The thoughts and emotions that are felt varies, depending on the people who experience this dilemma, but common emotions are: frustration, confusion, questioning, and sadness. The person going through this dilemma might have thoughts like "which side (Asian or Canadian) do I belong to?", "I feel incomplete", "I feel ignorant", "I am not a whole of either side; I must be worthless", to some extent. It is, however, crucial to remember that all of us are equally as "complete", and that people with multiple cultural aspects of their identity are just as beautiful as anyone else. Also, it's never too late to self-educate ourselves about different cultures, even our own. This is definitely easier said than done in many cases, but just a single mindset change can make a big difference. :)
Why does this happen?
This can happen for many reasons, one of which is fitting in. Everyone wants to be popular, fit in with the group so as to not be targeted, bullied, or excluded. To combat this, many people would try to fit in better with their surroundings, whether it be at school with friends, or at home with family. This can create an identity gap, or multiple identities as they interact with different people.
(two things to pull from this:
1. don't bully others for who they are.
2. it's not our fault for who we are; it's the bullies' faults for bringing up the notion that there's something wrong with us.
Of course, like we said, this varies for different people; visit the testimonials page for more pov's!
Dealing with this dilemma:
As said by Julianne Hing, on angryasianman.com, go back to the start, and ask yourself about the origins of these feelings of repulsion. Did your classmates make fun of Asian people, or make fun of you for being Asian? Did you see people treat your parents with derision because of their "Asian-ness"? Do your aunts and uncles talk loudly in quiet places, and chew with their mouths open? Did they save every plastic and ziploc bag and takeout container and cardboard box and sheet of bubble wrap your family was given, even if that meant you got crowded out of your own home? Did you spend every Thanksgiving break at a casino when you really wished you could be somewhere else? Whatever those memories are, hold those experiences up to the light. Try to figure out if your earliest understandings of your Asian identity were distorted by other people's opinions of and reactions to you and your Asian-ness. Try to figure out whether what you thought was bad was actually just different from other people around you. Your painful experiences may have had more to do with the frustration and confusion your parents experienced as immigrants in a brand new country than it did with their being Asian. It's okay to be critical of aspects of Asian cultures. It doesn't mean you hate yourself or your culture if you disagree with, for example, many Chinese people’s enduring preference for boys over girls, or the demand that children express their filial piety through unquestioning obedience of their parents. No culture, no community is infallible. Embracing your identity isn’t contingent upon you loving every single thing about that aspect of your identity.
A great source to learn more about this dilemma is https://thevarsity.ca/2018/03/25/defining-your-identity-two-times-over/. It captures examples of the process, thoughts, and feelings accurately.
Where Do We Belong
Many Asian-Canadians feel a dilemma that makes them question their identity; such as if they fall into the category of Asian or Canadian, or neither.