chinese diaspora


Singapore group revives traditional Chinese dress

Wow, the Singapore Hanfu society has just been interviewed by CGTN (overseas arm of China Central Television i.e. Chinese state media)    

I am really happy for the group because I think more people watch CCTV rather than local media.

Chinese people are being left out of almost every discussion of rising xenophobia in the U.S. which is really irresponsible given that most Americans can’t/won’t tell the difference between different Asians and Trump won over many of his followers with a “China, specifically, is out here to drain America dry” message. And you know damn well that the Yellow Peril is going to come back into the national psyche.

And there’s not a lot of us out here and we have a very weak history of activism, so if shit hits the fan people could do essentially whatever they wanted to the diaspora community.

TL;DR if you want to believe that the Chinese diaspora is too statistically insignificant to be worth discussing when thinking about xenophobia you are wrong and you are basically leaving a lot of people for dead

How to research your racially/ethnically diverse characters

chiminey-cricket asked:

Do any of you have any tips for doing independent research for PoC characters?

This question is super broad, but I’m going to see if I can give it a crack!

First of all, consume media by the group in question. If you want to write a story with a Chinese-American protagonist, read some blogs by Chinese-Americans, read books by Chinese-Americans – both fiction and nonfiction – lurk on places like thisisnotchina so you can get a feel for what pisses Chinese and Chinese diaspora people off about their portrayal in the media, google for stereotypes about Chinese people and try to make sure you’re not doing those (even positive ones), go more general (East-Asian all-of-the-above in general since in many cases the harmful tropes overlap), go more specific (if your protagonist is female, look specifically for blog posts featuring the opiniosn of Chinese-American and other Asian/Asian diapora women; same if your protagonist is attracted to the same sex, is transgender, or deals with any other form of oppression besides anti-Chinese racism.) All of the above applies to Latinxs, Native Americans/Canadian First Nations, African/African diaspora people, Jews, Muslims, etc. Find out what we’re saying about ourselves.

Lots of things are available just from Google. “I have a Black character and I want to know what kind of hairstyles are available for her!” We have a Black hair tag, but apart from that, googling “Black hairstyles” will probably bring up some articles that can at least give you a good starting point to learn some vocabulary to add to your next Google search, like “natural” and “twists” and “dreadlocks.”

Next, you can talk to people in the group, but before you do this, be sure to have some specific questions in mind. “How do I write a Jewish character?” is not a specific question. “Do I have to make my Jewish character follow kosher laws if I’ve made her religious in other ways, or can she go to shul but not keep kosher?” or “What’s a term of endearment a parent might use for a child in Yiddish?” is much more specific. Remember, if you’re talking to someone they’re answering you back with their free time, so expecting them to do most of the work of figuring out what’s most important for you to know is a little entitled.

Besides, a more specific question will give you a more helpful answer. If someone asks me “how do I write a Jewish character” one of the first things out of my mouth will be a list of personality stereotypes to avoid, which isn’t going to be very helpful if what you really need for your fic was whether or not you have to write your character as following strict kosher laws.

If you’re sending a question in to a writing blog or one of those race blogs like thisisnot[whoever], please read through their tags and FAQ to see if they’ve already answered it. Longtime followers of a blog would get very bored if all the blog’s content was nothing but “We answered that here last week at this helpful link!” Those who participate in answering these blogs are usually unpaid volunteers who provide a resource that’s already there to help people; help repay them for what they do by looking through the material on your own first.

How to tell if a source from outside the group is biased and bigoted: obviously, you’re not going to want to listen to Stormfront about Jews, or the KKK about, well, anything. If you’re not on a source created by the group in question, look for dry and academic language as opposed to emotional, informal, or inflammatory words – although dispassionate and technical language is no guarantee it won’t be racist, colonialist, or inaccurate. If you read enough books and blogs from the inside, though, you’ll probably see some of the myths from those other sources debunked before you even encounter them.

Lastly, don’t assume that all people who are Asian, African-American Christians, religious Jews, or Muslims are from cultures more oppressive, more conservative, more patriarchal, more homophobic, more sexist, or more controlling than the one in which you were raised. If your plot calls for homophobic parents or a repressive culture, that shouldn’t be the reason you make your character one of the groups listed. There is plenty of oppressive, anti-woman, and anti-queer thought in white American Christian/Christian-cultured society and personally, I believe such criticisms of the marginalized diaspora peoples I listed above belong in the voices of the cultures themselves.

–mod Shira

I’d not leave looking for dry and clinical information as the ONLY means to distinguish that a work is biased.

While yes it is pragmatic to say “look for academically toned wording,” … in addition to that, these folks really need to look into who the author is. Definitely look into the author. And the year the thing was published (because man if it’s from like the 60s or earlier, 9 times out of 10, throw that shit out).

Because people can disguise hatred and racism in careful diction so that it looks reasonable and polite. A shining example is physiognomy studies from Nazis and anti-Semite eugenecists. And the sad thing is, you really can’t trust people to read it and make the judgement call that this hate-in-disguise they’re reading is hate.  

Somehow, when someone says, “The people of the Levant express features such as […] which, at the risk of sounding untoward, suggest a very rodent-like persuasion,” people are like, “Oh, well, that was worded fancily and there was no angry or profane language, I suppose they’re right,” not stopping to think even for a moment that they just accepted that this book just said to them that Jews look like rats. I saw it happen in my Nazi Germany class when we were given reading material. It was fucking nuts.

So definitely, definitely look every outsider author in the mouth and cross-check any and everything that person says. 

–mod Elaney

Shira again: Elaney is right that you will want to be critical of outside sources, especially older ones. Also, be suspicious of blanket statements about a group such as “X group are” instead of discussing forces in X culture. For example. Because there’s going to be diversity within any group and it’s likely what’s being said isn’t inherently biologically linked to being in X group.

–mod Shira

ode to a mother tongue, lost & long forgotten

when my grandfather died       my father made me swear
      on his grave
   i would never forget
       the language of my birth.

              i was 4     so
    suffice to say
       the litany of my lifelong disappointments
begins early.

because you see i was born under a different sky with
a different set of teeth, a tongue
they called too    clu m
  to ever make for

and by the time i learned
that a lithp
   is just a lithp
      and not a mark against the art that
              ran over/through me
        i’d long since burned
      my mother tongue away.

but still   i
        proud, proud of my will, the strength of my resolve,
   the untraceability of my
pan-pacific zero-accountability accent neutrality,
race: blank
proud to be rootless,  to be fearless, to be 

and not knowing, then, that
no matter how many languages i   f o rg e    t
    i’ll never scrub away this gunpowder ash, this
         five-thousand-year history                ere are ya from?
         coursing through my blood&bones,
because they told me

“blood is blood”              or i just didn’t want to hear

but they never fucking said how much it hurts
to be living in a flash-flood tearaway world without corners in fear of
being carried/washed away, a world without handholds (a lost cause),
how living with no roots is a tightrope act over a stranger’s soil that you
       pretend to call 
       h o m e


                               how lonely it gets

                                       (how very)   .

i never managed to drop
that trace of
   foreign           (  xenos  )
          from my lungs,                  
                                  born and raised ha h a
 and now this sharp                   
&broken language cuts   
                        m e
              with it’s edges knowing
i’ll never write poetry
my mother understands.

Silly white people

In the caribean and south america it is normal that all kinds of cultures are mixed and that eventhough we have different backgrounds, we come from the same place and we are proud. Why should white people ask my black ass how it is possible that I could speak to a chinese friend and for how long I’ve been studying chinese?
Our parents were born in the same country in South america, so if we don’t want white people to listen to our conversation we talk in our native tongue… But that is not chinese, and our language doesn’t even come near it. Talking about ’ I only thought black people lived there’ not knowing that their was a huge Chinese immigration in the 18th century

people often don’t realize that the chinese diaspora is not just limited to north america or the UK. for example, the chinese community in peru is so significant that there’s even a specific chinese-peruvian cuisine called chifa. one of my professors from college (whose own family came to america via costa rica) also did research on the chinese central america pageant. 



Note: Personal post because it’s International Women’s Day

My grandmother at 27 (top) + my sister (bottom left) and me (bottom right) at around the same age (28 and 26). That’s my guama’s second child. 

I am well aware that women in the current generation have more freedom, access to knowledge, and opportunities to individuate compared to women in the past decades. And I never take that for granted. 

Seeing my guama’s younger image reinforced that perspective immensely, especially since I noticed that we have the same eyes. 

Except they’re not. 

Because hers carry the weight of hardship and motherhood. (And god, she’s beautiful in that photo!) The woman with the child, smiling modestly under tired eyes could have been me years ago if I had lived during their time and with their stricter familial duties and expectations.

It is just so surreal to think that at 27 my grandma was raising a family, while at 27 I am allowed to hustle at the individual pursuit of my calling (afforded time to even figure out that it was visual art); to self-actualize, and to enjoy shows and media that tell me there’s nothing wrong with taking care of myself first.  

I almost feel guilty at how easily my sister and I smile at the camera.

I don’t know why it bothers me but apparently it always has according to memory:

I don’t like it when people tell me my hair is black. My hair is dark brown. When it’s wet, it looks black. When it’s 1 inch long, it looks black. But it’s dark brown when it’s long, even if that isn’t immediately obvious.

I just don’t see where people get off contradicting me on this. I’ve lived with this hair my entire life, I think I know what color my own hair is.

It’d be pretty neat if my hair actually was jet black to the core but it’s not. It’s dark brown. When it was really long, I would’ve called it light brown (by my standards- by white people standards they’d probably call it dark, still). I don’t like it when my hair gets lighter brown.

I once remember thinking it would be less Chinese if it was lighter brown. The irony is, I’ve heard Chinese diaspora say having jet black hair instead of lighter brown hair makes them feel less Chinese. The grass is always greener on the other side. But we are all Chinese in the end.


from experience…the Chinese diaspora is really far from uniform too.

My family itself came from the mainland less than 100 years earlier…but today there’s a lot of snobbery towards mainland Chinese, particularly those that have come to other parts of Asia more recently. It’s not uncommon for people descended from mainlanders just three generations ago to go out of their way to distinguish themselves from mainland Chinese. Like it’s with the idea that ‘don’t mix us up with them’, with the implication that being a mainlander holds a negative connotation. It’s probably classism and kind of a colonial hangover too, because my family is also largely English-educated and pretty much everybody went to university. It’s very ironic given that most of our ancestors left the mainland precisely because they were in extremely awful economic circumstances and were searching for a better life too, but that’s what happens. 

Some of this insistence of distinguishing ourselves from the mainland is I sense, also political, particularly for those of us who have bad impressions of the CCP as a whole, due to losing contact with family members after the Cultural Revolution. But sometimes they do mix together with classism, which results in a rather unjustified hostility towards mainlanders no matter their political views. Like it’s not exactly just a ‘I don’t like the government’ but transfers to the people who don’t exactly have much say in the government given that it’s a one-party state.


寻见了 就有福


it was a hard land you saw
from the door of your home
when you planted your steps
in the loam of your leaving,
from under your soles
the path sprung as bloom,
as question, as blessing,
as a flower withering
to bud, the year
withdrawing the spring,
you swaddled your life tightly
with all that you owned, save
for one thing: one thing
remained fixed as this place. 


天空 疑云密布
心中 翻腾起伏



The sky is a wary raiment
The heart is a restless tempest
The sails are a hopeful tremble
The future is a milky horizon

Someday this now
shall be a wounded
past, trailing behind

the future
like a sort of


飘洋过海 我吃得起苦
现实有咒诅 梦里有祝福
有缘同舟 风雨同渡

顶着烈日当空 眼底有迷雾
日子多坎坷 命运有变数


O, and how long will the ocean chase a drifting petal?
For as long as the jasper shall sit upon your tongue.

And how long shall the scorching sun cloth an empty ether?
For as long as a redhead scow might sail against the storm.

And when my sorrows come to sleep, what is it I’ll see?
You shall dream the cursed world sing in major key.

And if my hopes evaporate from the dregs of craggy day?
Then shall you wait in dawning wish for a daze of droughted dew.

—  “我吃得起苦/the dandelions of diaspora”, 动力火车 x Samuel Caleb Wee
History of Chinese immigration to Canada

This is the history of Chinese immigration to Canada.

The first recorded visit by Chinese people to North America can be dated to 1788, with the employment of 30-50 Chinese shipwrights at Nootka Sound in what is now British Columbia, who built the first European-type vessel in the Pacific Northwest, named the North West America.

Every so often, I try to do my genealogy online, but sources are still very limited. History is very important to genealogical research as you can relate events to a specific time period.

In any case, the Chinese people have had an interesting history in Canada. 

Free Food... ?

So here’s a thing that happened: 

I went to a chinese restaurant down the street to order some take-out, and while I was ordering I forgot the english for 鍋貼 so I said 鍋貼out loud while I was thinking and the woman grabbed the counter and looked at me with wide eyes, and was like, “WHAAAAAAAAA!” and I was like, “yeah, um… OH! Pot stickers!”

And then she was like, “yeah! 鍋貼!” and so was like “oh yeah, lol, I speak chinese…" 

And then we chatted for a bit and I went through my standard ‘this is how I learned chinese’ spiel and now I think she’s agreed to feed me food for free in exchange for English lessons. 

I can sympathize with her though. Like, where I live currently there’s almost no chinese community – mostly just WASPs and rednecks (what a combo!) and so I imagine that she’s just happy to have someone beyond her family with whom to converse. 

Let this be a lesson: never underestimate the power of being multilingual – it may just get you fed.

Hundreds of Mexican women came to reside in southeastern China by the early 1930s. Some had migrated there in the first decades of the twentieth century, before the expulsion era, with husbands and companions who chose to move their Mexican-origin families to the communities from which they had emigrated. Wanting to secure entry back into Mexico, Chinese men and their Mexican spouses requested visas from the consulate in Hong Kong and appealed to Manuel Tello, the Mexican consul in Yokohama, Japan. In 1930, Tello wrote to the SRE several times to inquire about whether the men could travel to Mexico with tourist visas but no passports.

María Teresa Guadalajara de Lee had arrived in China with her husband, Eugenio Lee, in the 1920s. She appealed to authorities to repatriate because he had abandoned her and returned to Mexico City by himself in 1926. She remained in China five years later because she had lost her passport and neither Mexican nor Chinese authorities would grant her another one. When she appealed again, the Secretaría de Gobernación (the Mexican government’s internal affairs branch) denied her reentry because she had been away for more than five years. Nevertheless, Mexican authorities tried to help her. They pursued her husband in Mexico to obligate him to pay for his family’s return and provide any documents in his possession. With the help of her brother, Benito Guadalajara, authorities repeatedly looked for Lee, but to no avail. In spite of the lack of documentation, Mexican officials ultimately approved Guadalajara de Lee’s repatriation after her brother acted on her behalf. Federal authorities told local officials in Nogales, Sonora, to permit her and her children to enter Mexico via its border with the United States in the early 1930s.

María Pérez traveled to Guangdong Province with her husband and their children in the spring of 1930. Like Murillo de Chan, she lived in the small community of Kaw Kong. Pérez began appealing to authorities to repatriate to Mexico about a year after she arrived. She was unhappy because her husband had brought her to China “engañada” (under false pretenses), having told her that they were going on a vacation. He had taken out a passport with permission to reenter Mexico within six months and, since it had expired, she and her children could not return. Pérez’s husband had two other spouses in China. After she made known her discontent with the situation, he took her children and threw her out. Though he gave her a very small pension, it was not enough to sustain her. He did, however, agree to pay her passage back to Mexico if she obtained government per-mission to return.

Hundreds more Mexican women would travel to China during the expulsion years. By Fresco’s accounting, more than six hundred Mexican women as well as their Chinese Mexican children arrived in China by 1933, either with the mass expulsions of Chinese men and their families from Sonora and Sinaloa or fleeing anti-Chinese activity in other areas of Mexico. While some women chose to follow their husbands or companions to keep their families together, in other instances authorities simply rounded up the women and sent them out of Mexico along with their partners because mixed-race families were perceived as non-Mexican.

—   “The Women are Neither Chinese Nor Mexican,” Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960 by Julia María Schiavone Camacho (2012)

very detailed, if not colorful, biographies and historical information. I did not know that there were Chinese in Latin America, in the 19th century, and only dimly aware of their (our?) presence in Europe.

turns out i’m ignorant of my own history. Chinese people don’t get much mention in history books. In APUSH, we show up in the 1860s to build the Union Pacific Railway and and steal jobs from the Irish, the exclusion act of 1882 happens and then we disappear. My school’s offering AP Euro and AP English as a combined class next year. Hmm, why not AP World? (Neither it nor Euro is required for graduation)

hot take: the history of the chinese diaspora in america is important to know for all asian americans because a lot of the shit involved (xenophobia, orientalism, etc.) is not exclusive to chinese people and it has totally happened again to other people and it will probably happen again in the future

anonymous asked:

Can I ask you a bit of a personal question? Do you identify more as an english or as an chinese?

Honestly, I’d rather not people break it down into an either or thing. And it’s not really specifically English. More that my family is a cultural mix of Chinese, Southeast Asian (they lived in multiple SEAsian countries) and British influences because of the legacy of the British Empire. 

English is my first language & I have grown up around a lot of ideas like parliamentary democracy and general British cultural influences because of that. But all the same I am also a Southeast Asian Chinese- my family left China and formed the Chinese diaspora in various SEAsian countries- we always celebrate Chinese New Year, the food I associate with ‘home’ is Southeast Asian cuisine. I probably feel more at home in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore (or other SEAsian countries) and London and other EU cities than mainland China, because my family left the mainland in the 1920s. But yeah, all the same I am ethnically Chinese and being Chinese is part of how I see myself. Culturally, I am undoubtedly very different from my great-great grandparents who were born in China. I’m a lot more Westernised and Southeast Asian than they are. But I should like to think the sum of all these parts make something new, rather than being an either/or choice that obscures the others. 

In the case of the Americas, although a few diasporic Chinese returned to the homeland, the vast majority did not, and others remigrated to other points in the hemisphere. For example, among the first Chinese in New York City were remigrants from Havana, following a well-established and well-traveled path across the Caribbean waters from Havana to New York. Chinese coolies on Cuban plantations were sent to Mississippi plantations to fill an acute labor shortage in the 1860s (see Cohen 1984). Despite the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border interacted freely and frequently, while big Chinese merchant houses in San Francisco and Los Angeles opened and stocked branch stores in Mexico, Cuba, and Peru. Chinese labor contractors in California introduced Chinese workers to open up vast tracts of virgin land in Baja California for large-scale cotton cultivation in the Mexicali Valley.

Chinese huaqiao (immigrants) in the diaspora shared common experiences, whether as huagong, workers, or as huashang, merchants. Throughout the Americas, they entered already multiracial societies that were nevertheless dominated by European ethnicities and a white power structure. The exact nature of their work and social relationships in the workplace, and the exact nature of their businesses and business opportunities varied across time and space…

The use of indentured labor, based on formal contracts, seemed to have been a common practice throughout the Chinese diaspora in the nineteenth century, wherever European plantations thrived. It is known generally as the coolie system in Asia and in the Americas; the Dutch used it on their Southeast Asian plantations, the British employed both Chinese and East Indian coolies on their West Indian (Caribbean) estates after slavery; and of course, the Spaniards in Cuba and the newly independent Peruvians also adopted this system of labor. (Despite widespread use of the term “coolie” to refer to Chinese laborers, no formal indentured labor system involving Chinese existed in the United States.) My own work has examined Chinese indentured labor on the Cuban and Peruvian plantations of the mid to late nineteenth century (HuDeHart 1992).

The contracts were issued in both Chinese and Spanish and in duplicate, one to the coolie to be kept on his person for the duration of his bondage, the other to the contracting agency, which transferred it to the master when he purchased the contract. Printed in clear type in both versions, usually on a fine blue paper, it included the name of the onsite agent as well as the contracting agency in Havana or Lima, sometimes the name of the coolie ship, and was signed by the Spanish consul in China and the local authorities (local Portuguese authorities when the trade was transferred from the uneasy Chinese government in south China to the more amenable Portuguese colonial regime in Macao).

In the Spanish-language contracts, Cubans and Peruvians rarely referred to the Chinese as coolies or workers, but rather euphemistically as colonos asiáticos. On the other hand, and in an apparent inconsistency, those who bought their contracts were referred to as patrón or patrono, and in Peru, sometimes as amo, which is a paternalistic term for “master.” The contracts had the heading Libre Emigración China para la Isla de Cuba (or para el Perú)—Free Chinese Immigration to Cuba (or Peru)—which explains the references in the document to colono and not worker. In the Chinese-language version, the entirely different heading refers to a “Labor Employment Contract” (Gu-kong-he-tong), making no allusion to immigration or colonization, but only to work. Consistent with this construction, those who contracted with the Chinese were known as “employers.” Since the Chinese-language contract was supposedly read by local authorities to the recruited workers, presumably the Chinese knew they were going somewhere to work and not to settle permanently. In fact, to ensure this understanding, very few women were sent to Cuba or Peru.

—  Evelyn Hu-Dehart, “On Coolies and Shopkeepers The Chinese as Huagong (Laborers) and Huashang (Merchants) in Latin America/Caribbean,” Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas (2005)

a question for tumblr users who are diaspora chinese but not han:

what are some things diaspora han chinese people say or do that you consider oppressive/problematic? or, are there any blogs or websites you would like us to check out to educate ourselves?

if you feel up to it, you can reblog this post with commentary or simply inbox us.

- junjie