Gender & Identity, Life

22 things you know to be true if you’re an American-born Chinese (ABC)

People always want to know where you're "really" from.

My father is Chinese, my mother is Vietnamese, and I was born in America. I identify as Asian-American, Chinese-American, and multicultural. I have lived in the U.S. my entire life and my Asian identity is just as important to me as my American identity.

As a child of immigrants and American-born Chinese, I deal with all sorts of judgments, comments, and questions all too frequently. 

And I’m certain that other American-born Chinese people will relate.

1. You can’t choose between American holidays and Chinese holidays

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Image description: a woman with guitar saying “Happy Holidays Everybody”

 Being bicultural means you get to celebrate twice as many holidays and traditions. And you know that Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year are both awesome.

2. You’re constantly being asked to say something in Chinese

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Image description: a woman with sunglasses saying “not today.”

Can I not?

3. Or, where can you find the most  *real* Chinese food?

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Image description: dancing dumplings on an orange and green background.

Umm, my grandmother’s house? 

4. When people ask you “where are you really from?” after telling them a city in the U.S.

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Image description: a white woman asking an Asian woman, “Anyways where are you guys from?”

“Where are you from?” Portland, Oregon. “I mean, where are you really from?” Oh, I am ethnically Chinese but born in America. *cringe*

5. You relate a little too much to Fresh Off the Boat

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Image description: the family from Fresh Off the Boat sitting on a couch.

Your mom is exactly like Jessica Huang and it makes you laugh so hard. And if you ever watch FOTB with your white friends you always add your own personal commentary.

6. You love reading Chinese-American and Asian-American blogs

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Image description: street style gif of fashion influencer, Eva Chen.

Eva Chen and Angry Asian Man are your go-to sources of awesome Asian reading.

7. Growing up, you always dreaded going to Chinese school

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Image description: gif of moving school supplies including books, paper clips, basketballs and scissors.

But now that you’re an adult, you wished you paid attention more and had *actually* learned Chinese.

8. Thick Dumpling Skin is the bomb dot com

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Image description: woman clapping her hands with delight.

It’s the best blog that ties social, cultural and familial ideas with issues surrounding body image and positivity.

9. You’ve gotten used to the total lack of Asian representation in media

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Image description: Constance Wu of Fresh Off the Boat holding a sign saying “what is the buzz about your show” with her responding, “the buzz about m show is that it’s the first Asian show.”

Chinese-Americans on TV? On one show about Asian people. Chinese-Americans starring in movies? Nope. Chinese-Americans on the cover of magazines? Also nope. *sigh*

10. The complete lack of regard for Asian-Americans in the U.S. is so damn annoying

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Image description: woman sighing and putting her hands on her face.

You wish that people would talk about Asian-Americans when they talked about minorities in the U.S. because “invisible Asians” are a real thing and you’re trying to fix it.

11. The Model Minority is a myth and you’re trying to dispel it

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Image description: a woman saying “some people just can’t stand to see minorities succeed!”

All Asians aren’t one group and we need to recognize this ASAP.

12. You grew up eating warm, savory breakfast

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Image description: gif of a boiling pot of congee.

Congee is the definition of breakfast comfort food.

13. Sometimes people will tell you “your English is really good”

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Image description: woman smiling with a mug that reads “HELP ME.”

…yeah, that’s because I was born and raised in America.

14. The best weekend brunch is dim sum

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Image description: words “DIM SUM” on the background of dim sum food items.

Not the “white people go to a trendy restaurant that serves dim sum” kinda place. But the “grimy restaurant, women shouting in Chinese while pushing metal carts and no ice-water kind of dim sum” place.

15. You never wear shoes in the house

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Image description: woman on the phone saying “Oh hell no.”

It’s so weird to you that people wear shoes in the house. Why would you want to track in all the dirt from outside, inside?

16. You’re used to everyone fighting for the right to pay after a meal

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Image description: gif of two cats fighting with lightsabers.

The whole family erupts into screams while pushing, shoving and sometimes crawling over the table to get the check.

17. When you go back to mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan, you always feel super American

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Image description: woman packing lunch for her kids saying “his body is rejecting white culture, which makes me kind of proud.”

The downside of being bicultural is you’re too Asian in America and too American in Asia. But the perks of your bicultural identity definitely outweighs the discomfort. 

18. You wanted white kid lunch growing up

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Image description: boy saying “I need white people lunch!”

But your mom always packed you rice for lunch. And years later, you still prefer rice over pretty much everything else.

19. You shower at night

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Image description: gif of a woman laughing with text that reads “*laughs* Nope”

Not until sleepovers or college did you realize most American people shower in the morning. But showering at night is just what you grew up doing and you wouldn’t want to go to bed dirty.

20. You are frustrated when people tell you that you’re a “bad Asian” for not following stereotypes

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Image description: gif of a boy saying “Oh now you’re into math.”

There’s no good way to be Asian or bad way to be Asian. I am sorry that I don’t live up to your stereotypes but I’m just doing me k thx bye. 

21. You’ve grown up hearing stories from your parents’ or grandparents’ emigration

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Image description: an older woman saying “It is beautiful and tragic, like my life.”

You know how hard your parents and/or grandparents worked to get to the United States and you’re forever grateful.

22. You know that no matter how hard being bicultural is, you wouldn’t have it any other way

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Image description: a woman in qipao saying “But it is meaningless if we lose ourselves.”

Sometimes being bicultural sucks. People will ask insensitive questions and make rude comments. Growing up bicultural was especially difficult. But at the end of the day, you love being an American-born Chinese person.