The article Racist Love written Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan raises a very important question related to the identity of Asian-Americans. Their main argument is that the popular image of Chinese-Americans was artificially constructed by those people who could misunderstand the culture of immigrants or maybe even were prejudiced against them.
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This paper will argue that it is very difficult for a person to assimilate into a foreign society and retain his/her cultural heritage and language. Moreover, in many cases such assimilation into a new society can lead to the rejection of one’s national legacy. This is the main idea that this essay will explore.
Certainly, in their arguments Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan focus primarily on the concept of race. The writers believe that white racism encourages national stereotypes because they promote the idea of white superiority (Chin & Chan, 67).
These stereotypes can even force a person to achieve certain behavioural standards in order to assimilate into a new community.Such standards can be related to value system, physical appearance, attitude toward other people, and so forth. As the authors say, a representative of a certain ethnic minority is “conditioned to live in the state of euphemized self-contempt” (Chin & Chan, 67).
This is probably the central idea of their article, and this problem of identity crisis cannot be overlooked. Racial stereotypes make Asian or any other immigrants believe that they are inferior to white people. This is why they are so dangerous.
Although, the idea of racist love driven by white supremacists may seem slightly exaggerated, one cannot disregard some of the writers’ arguments. For instance, one can refer to their concept of a successful or “privileged foreigner” (72).
They point out that in order to succeed an immigrant must eliminate his/her distinctions from natives. In this case one can speak about such aspects as manner of dress, accent, hair style, and so forth.
Certainly, there are no official laws that can force a person to imitate the behavior of the majority group. But without it, he/she will find it very difficult to achieve high status in the community or climb a career ladder.
It should be borne in mind that many Chinese-American authors focused on such concept as dual personality. This notion refers to the idea that a person must imitate the traditions and customs of the host nation in order to be accepted and attain success.
Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan reject this argument (73). Such worldview can disrupt the ties between the representatives of a certain ethnic community. Without cherishing their distinct cultural legacy, Chine-American may lose contact with one another. It should be mentioned that some scholars disagree with their ideas of Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan.
For example, Jingyi Song says that the second generation of Chinese immigrants did make an attempt to rediscover their cultural heritage and many of them became ethnographers, translators, or civic advocates, promoting the rights of Chinese Americans (83). Thus, one should say that Asian immigrants always abandon their values, language, literature, or traditions.
When we speak about attempts to rediscover Chinese identity, one should mention that it was often misinterpreted. For example, the authors point out that Chinese hospitality has often taken for “timidity and docility” (Chin & Chan, 69).
Similarly, steadiness and even temper can be mistaken for lack of initiative and indifference. The problem is that some of these stereotypes became so widespread that many immigrants came to believe them. This is one of the reasons why some of them desperately try to join the majority.
Certainly, the ideas of Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan can be exaggerated, particularly when they speak about masculinity and femininity of Chinese culture.
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Nonetheless, one cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that some racial stereotypes have yet to disappear, and to a great extent, they shape the relations between people in the United States. This stereotypical misconstruction of Chinese identity is one of the reasons why so many people choose to forget the language, values, and traditions of their ancestors.
According to the authors of this article, many Chinese immigrants do not want to speak about their distinct national experiences including racism. The authors claim the acceptance of Chinese people into the mainstream American society is regarded by many writers as a “miracle” or even “answer to prayers” (Chin & Chan, 77).
This argument is closely tied with the idea of self-contempt or rejection one’s national or ethnic identity. Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan view this phenomenon as a direct consequence of racial stereotyping.
Admittedly, this argument can be debated and criticized in part because identity crisis is typical of many immigrants, and it occurs in many countries, even in those ones where race does not play an important part in the life of community.
Despite some limitations this article touches upon many issues which are relevant to modern day Asian-American community. A great number of people come to the United States from China, Japan, Vietnam, or other countries. They are forced to choose between their own distinct identity and assimilation. The main question is how to reconcile them.
Chin, Frank and Chan Jeffery. “Racist Love”. Seeing through Shuck. Ed. Richard Kostelanetz. NY: Ballantine Boooks, 1972, pp. 65-69.
Song, Jingyi. Shaping and reshaping Chinese American identity: New York’s Chinese during the Depression and World War II. NY: Lexington Books. 2010. Print.