Chinese-Americans are really Chinese, American, neither and both.

When I went back to China in the Summer of 2010 to study abroad, one taxi ride truly made me question my identity as a Chinese-American. There were two Chinese-Americans who did not speak Chinese, with one Chinese-American student who did. By default, she instructed the driver where to go and the ride began. What was not expected was that the driver immediately started commenting on the fact that the other two students in the car were Chinese, but unable to speak the language. In fact, he event went as far to say, “If you are Chinese and you can’t speak Chinese, then you’re NOTHING.”

I am a Chinese-American who can speak Chinese; to a certain degree, that is. I can get by with everyday conversations and interactions, just as long as they don’t involve anything too philosophical. But can a lack of speaking Chinese really allow the native Chinese person to perceive the non-native as not being Chinese at all? In my experiences in studying abroad, the Chinese people I spoke with at the market, the mall, in cabs, or just on the street were quick to judge that I was not an “authentic” Chinese person because of my lack of fluency in the language. Speaking the language, more than any other aspect of “being Chinese,” seems to be the main determinant in whether you are REALLY Chinese to the native-Chinese person’s eyes. In fact, in China, there is no distinction made between nationality and ethnicity.

There is a cultural disconnect between identifying oneself as an American or a Chinese person for the Chinese-American. In China, that person is seen as an American; in America, that person is seen as Chinese. In recent weeks, there has been much talk in American news about the Chinese-American success story of Jeremy Lin. Some of this news has made itself into the Chinese newspapers and media abroad. But along the same lines of national pride, divisions are made in identity. In America, he is made to seem as the American success story of immigrant parents; though in China, Lin is the Chinese success story - just taking place in America. 

The question of “where are you from?” also yields the same disconnect. For some reason when this question is asked in America, if a Chinese-American says he or she is from America, the answer just does not satisfy the questioner and is immediately followed by, “so where are you REALLY from?” On the other hand, if the same question is asked in China and is responded with “China,” the questioner will immediately follow in the same manner. 

Why is it that even though America promotes a culture of immigrants coming together for new opportunities on this landmass, no answer of “origin” based on ethnicity or nationality will be accepted? The dual identities, or perhaps the new identity of Chinese-American just does not seem to be acknowledged in China or America. This leaves Chinese-Americans identifying themselves as either one or the other, or neither, or both. Take your pick, because society tell us that not all four options can really cohesively exist. 

Alice Tsui is a piano performance major at New York University, and writes for Generasian magazine. 

*Correction: Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese American, we apologize for this incorrection.

I'm back....

…for educational purposes! I’m going to be writing/blogging for NYU’s premier Asian American interest magazine. If you’re interested in getting news and updates about the Asian American communities on campus, NYC, and around the world, you can follow us at! 

dec 1 2015

really fantastic start to the month. though i overslept and missed my 9:30AM, i tackled the day with green juice (and no coffee!), donated to a fantastic nonprofit that supports girls in STEM (giving tuesday, y’all), attended a well-planned and highly inspirational launch party for @generasian and wrapped up the night with a motivating meeting with an old boss. hope the next 99 days prove to be just as productive as today was :)

My First Follow Friday

I don’t think I’ve done one on here before, so here’s the first of many:

modelmyvoice: Their about me says ’Our vision: Providing a collective space for our API communities to express our identities and explore OURstories in order to raise awareness about issues affecting our communities from the past, through the present and to the future’. I love this blog and I love reading the stories and testimonies from people all over the world. Most of these stories make me tilt my head and say “Huh. So I’m not the only one”. I highly recommend this project, and you should submit a story to them!

aslantedview: The bassist from the Asian American rock band, The Slants, offers insight into fights with trademarking their name, what it’s like to be in an API band, and writes really in-depth posts on issues facing the community today. You can check out his blog, but take some time to explore the band’s website too here.

khabacy: He’s just an awesome guy who makes great posts. I’ve reblogged from him countless times, and count him as a great APIA resource. Check him out!

generasian: This Tumblr is the blog of NYU’s APIA magazine. They get exclusive news, great interviews, and really interesting perspectives on people, issues, and social media. Most importantly, because they’re based in New York they’ll sometimes post events going on in the area! It’s my guilty pleasure as I keep trying to get to NYU :)

jkreg: Joy is fantastic. I’m just going to say that right off the bat. We as a community talk about having more of an APIA presence in Hollywood/the media, and Joy’s our first hand look into what it’s like to get into that work. Follow her journey on casting calls, filming, food, and what it’s like to be a Filipino-American!

kollaborationsf: Hopefully you know of Kollaboration, the biggest and most badass media and talent showcase for the APIA community! The first Kollaboration took place in 2001 at the USC Bovard Theater. Past performers include Far East Movement, Dumbfoundead, and Julie Park, and future performers include Aziatix! San Francisco’s Kollaboration started in 2010 so be sure to catch them this time.

Though there are a wide range of Asian American narratives, it’s not hard to determine which one is the single story – it’s one about the quiet, hard-working people who earn the highest grades in their class, who become doctors and lawyers and engineers, whose median income is higher than those of white people. The single story of Asian Americans is the model minority myth, and even though it’s been refuted countless times, this story is stubbornly persistent.


It’s not that these Asian Americans don’t exist; they certainly do, and much of my own story aligns with this narrative. The problem is the perception that this is the only story about Asian Americans – that all of us are hardworking, overachieving success stories. The reality is far more complex: There are countless Asian American narratives. Asian Americans originate from more than 20 different countries and speak dozens of different languages. There are Asian Americans who immigrated a few years ago and ones who have been in the US for centuries. For every Asian American who came here for graduate school, there’s one who arrived as a refugee; there’s a blue-collar worker for every white-collar professional. Yes, the median household income for Asian Americans is higher than that of white people, but there’s also a higher percentage of Asian Americans living in poverty. There are Asian Americans who are amazing at school and plenty who are not. (The fact that I even need to say that is absurd, but given the single story about us, it’s a necessary clarification.)
Scholarship Opportunity for Asian American High School Students

Serving the Asian-American community in the New York tri-state area. Asian-American high school…

This Christmas, why not give yourself a gift by applying for RMHC/Asia Scholarship program? 6 lucky winners will receive $17,000 each for the Scholarship program, while 10 inspirational students can win a total of  $4,500  for their ‘My Inspirational Story; video contest! 

Deadline for these are Jan 21st and Jan 10th, respectively. Scholarship applicants must be in NY/CT area.

Flyers and applications can also be downloaded at their Facebook page above!  

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is looking for spring interns! 

Interns will help out with author events and help edit content for their online magazine, The Margins. In addition to writers, activists and critical thinkers, they’re also looking for social media masters, AV kids, graphic designers, and more. Open to smart undergraduates of all backgrounds–and a great way for young students to meet other cool peeps their age. Deadline is Nov 17, 2014. Application is here:

AP World History Fails to Learn Cultural Sensitivity

The Educational Testing Services and College Board invited thousands of teachers to Salt Lake City to grade the 2014 AP World History exams. Unfortunately, those in charge of educating and evaluating our children apparently are idiots.

(photo credit for AngryAsianMan)

The event unfolded as it had every year before with commemorative t-shirts for those who graded. This year, those t-shirts were inspired by a certain essay question involving the Chinese Communist party. The t-shirt as seen here had caricatures of past Chinese Communist party leaders and featured a crude Oriental font. 

(photo credit for AngryAsianMan)

During orientation for graders, the AP World History chief reader had made jokes regarding the Tiananmen Square Massacre while wearing a Red Guard Cap (he apparently wasn’t the only one sporting such head gear). He revealed the design during orientation and complaints and protests against these designs followed quickly. Still, the organizers went ahead and t-shirts were distributed anyway. And yes, some teachers still went ahead and wore them.

It is disheartening to see that an established and credible organization that holds such power over our education and youth is marred with such ignorance and point-blank racism. One would think that specializing in World History would bring more cultural sensitivity, but perhaps then, we must look at how we, in fact, teach World History. Looking at our American education system which is, in fact, a Euro-centric and white-centric one, maybe it isn’t so surprising that there are educators who can produce such ignorant actions. 

ETS and Collegeboard have made a joint statement, apologizing. 


Today is the start of a “new” column here on Generasian, called YouTuber Wednesdays! Every other Wednesday, an Asian YouTuber will be featured here. So on slump day, you can have something that can brighten your day. (Or help you procrastinate even more…)

The first YouTuber (or YouTubers) featured in this new column will be none other than Wong Fu Productions!

Wong Fu Productions is one of the biggest names in the Asian-American filmmaking community. If you haven’t already heard of them, then you’ve been missing out! They are a trio made up of Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, and Ted Fu. They make short films that range in genre from comedy sketches to romantic love stories. Currently they have 2.3 million subscribers.

One of Wong Fu’s biggest videos is “Strangers, Again,” (above) that goes through the stages of a relationship.

Another video of theirs that is a personal favorite is “Left on Shing Wong,” one of Wong Fu’s few fantasy shorts.

They also have two web series that is worth checking out!

Wong Fu has a great variety of shorts, and anyone is guaranteed to find something that they’ll enjoy! Make sure to check them out.

NYU Skirball Cancels Yellowface on Campus with the Perpetually Offensive “The Mikado”

Skirball Center of Performing Arts is the largest performance arts facility in New York City south of 42nd Street. It is also owned by Generasian’s home, New York University, and this December, NYU Skirball planned to present Gilbert and Sullivan’s the Mikado, a British Comic Opera set in Japan. Luckily, thanks to the many concerned NYU students, A/P/A institutions, and the general public. who voiced their protests the production was canceled

The following is a very helpful synopsis of the Opera to catch people up to speed:

“Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado of Japan, fled his father’s imperial court to escape marraige with Katisha, an elderly lady. Disguised as a traveling musician, he met and fell in love with Yum-Yum, the young ward of Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor in the town of Titipu. Yum-Yum, however, was already betrothed to her guardian, and Nanki-Poo left Titipu in despair.” (x)

And in case “Nanki-Poo,” “Yum-Yum,” and “Titipu” weren’t enough for you, here’s a picture of the cast in action:

You know, my favorite part of theatre has always been the yellowface

Keep reading

Dairy Queen Perpetuates Yellow Peril

Here we all were just scrolling through our dashboards when another one of those pesky sponsored posts popped up. Dairy Queen’s tumblr dqfanfood posted about how the company pledges to donate $1 for every every “#ChickenStache” post submitted for No-Shave November. Unfortunately, Dairy Queen just couldn’t stop there.

 Along with the info, Dairy Queen posted a picture of a girl holding two chicken tenders up to her mouth to make up a mustache and labeled it “Fu Manchicken." 

Fu Manchu is a fictional character created the 1930s, a master criminal with squinty eyes, Asian-esque robes and yes, a thin long mustache. He has become a stereotype associated with Yellow Peril (that is, the fear that Asian socialites will attack and wage wars on Western societies) and is the inspiration for most "Yellow Peril villains” seen in media today. A recent example could be Iron Man 3’s The Mandarin.

It is disappointing to see this pointlessly racist marketing tactic used for an otherwise good cause. To associate No-Shave November with a Fu Manchu mustache is just plain ignorant.

America the Confused?

Just a few hours ago, Coca Cola’s Super Bowl ad aired, featuring a multi-language rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’, perhaps paying homage to the USA’s racially diverse population while advertising their brand. The immediate Twitter backlash in response to the commercial was definitely not what Cola was hoping for. #fuckcoke started trending as an outlet for the outrage of a crowd of 'Americans’ that had apparently forgotten its own roots. 

Of the flood of tweets like this one, the most common argument was that since America is American, for the love of all things American, it is only fair that we sing everything in….American? What was that? Oh, English. Because we’re all English? Come again? Ah….we should all speak English because this is America, and we should also all overlook the fact that America as a whole was brutally taken over by Caucasians from various parts of Europe, because that means that basically everyone on US soil comes from immigrant roots, and that would be so un-American. 

On a happier note, the #fuckcoke page has begun to fill with tweets from Americans who see the beauty in diversity, rebuking those tweeting racist comments. Join the conversation on Twitter and show that positivity prevails over hate! 

How to Practice Asian American Solidarity for Ferguson

Photo Credit

With news of the no indictment of Darren Wilson, protests and general outrage has sprung up everywhere from marches in New York to the viral hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Some Asian Americans may feel that this is none of their business; not all white people are racist or perhaps this is purely a black people issue. This is wrong. The issue of Ferguson, police brutality and the general institutional racism rampant in America and around the world is a problem that requires the attention of everyone, including Asian Americans. 

It is imperative that we stand with our fellow People of Color, because in the end, no matter how high the Asian income levels are, no matter how many Asians attend your college, no matter how many times Bill O'Reilly screams about Asian Privilege, we are not White. The American systems (be it justice, education, or economic) as it stands does not benefit our yellow faces. We face racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Colored bodies litter the streets and yellow is not an exception. So speak out and get angry. As Soya Jung said, “Our options are invisibility, complicity, or resistance, and black rage is a clarion call for standing on the correct side of the color line, for reaping the collective rewards of justice." 

At the same time though, it is also important to remember that the Black voice is the focal point of this battle. The colored bodies include yellow, but the data shows that most of them are Black. Arthur Chu once said that as an Asian American, ”I fear being snubbed and sometimes spat on but rarely shot. And that is a very important difference.“ Anti-Blackness is a real issue and a critical factor of what is at play in Ferguson. As fellow People of Color, Asian Americans must stand tall and loud, but as Black allies, we must be sure to let Black voices ring out clear.

“You don’t choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be. And you do choose how you think.” -Grace Lee Boggs

On October 6th, 2015, Grace Lee Boggs passed away at 100-years old in her home in Detroit, Michigan. A writer, social activist, philosopher, and feminist, Boggs first began her advocacy work in Chicago for groups within the Social Workers Party, focusing on marginalized groups such as women and people of color. Boggs was particularly active in the black power movement with her husband James Boggs, a Black autoworker and activist, and worked closely with both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. Boggs was a true believer, reimagining revolution and becoming the change we want to see in the world. Rest in Power, Grace Lee Boggs.

EXPOSURE : Dimas Martadarma

This week, we are featuring another student artist, Dimas!

We have attached some works in his floating series, as well as a sampling of works from his website. Here is his artist statement:

I’ve been photographing since the end of my high school years to document those years with my friends, and since then photography has just been a medium for me to document my personal life. Last year I pursued a 365 project in which I took a photograph for everyday of that year and I think it’s been the best way for me to develop as a photographer. It was also the year I studied abroad in Shanghai and had the opportunity to make a ton of great photographs, and I consider it to be one of the best experiences I ever had. My time in Shanghai was also when I started my floating photography project, which was inspired by a Japanese photographer known as yowayowa. As far as this series goes, I think I just thought it was an interesting angle to jump away from the cliche type of self-portrait. 

Please check out more of his work on his website,


Happy (MLK) Monday everyone!

This week we’re featuring Jae Jin, an independent artist recently featured as an ‘undiscovered talent’ on WorldStarHipHop, with a cover of Sam Cooke’s 'Nothing Can Change This Love’ that quickly went viral with almost half a million views. He covers a variety of genres of music, from soul to hip hop to pop. The depth of emotion he puts into his soul music is clear, from his expression to his devotion to the art. Having gone through exceptional hardships throughout his life (and having persevered despite them all), Jae serves as an inspiration beyond just his music. He is dedication personified, choosing always to take the road less traveled. While he graduated from Johns Hopkins University, instead of matriculating into an MD/MBA program, he chose to go into social work and pursue his true love–music. This 2014, he has decided to give music a shot. He got off to an amazing start in 2013: he is one of One Reason Recordings’ (a charity social label) featured artists, has been flown around the country to do shows in NYC, Baltimore, and DC, and is looking to release biweekly covers, as well as an EP and multiple collaborations with fellow artists. 

I had the honor of meeting him in person, and experienced firsthand his sincerity and charisma. By slowly building a social media following through Facebook and Twitter, he hopes to come across more opportunities to share his passion. Linked is the cover that made his name–be sure to follow and leave him some love if you appreciate his music as much as I did!