Identity- The set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group
I had never before questioned my roots. Growing up in a multiracial/multicultural country where the concept of equality among races was indoctrinated into our young minds from an early age, I identified myself first & foremost as a Singaporean. The question of my “Chinese-ness” had never come up despite being “forced” to study Mandarin as a second language since being of Chinese origin, my mother tongue was considered Mandarin. I remember filling up a form which asked for Mother Tongue – I wrote there English…since that’s the language I think in, and dream in.
(Aside: Come to think of it, why do all the forms that we are asked to fill up in Singapore have the section on Race? If it is multicultural, how does that matter? I can understand that it is an important question when taking medical history. But when you apply for a phone line or club membership or housing loan or car loan etc, does it really matter?)
Now, being in the land from which my forefathers hailed, I find that I don’t feel any more Chinese than I did before. Maybe even less so, given my “foreign” tastes in food, clothing, music, books, etc and my inability to understand the local lingo if a native Chinese speaker starts rattling off at top speed. And I don’t feel bad about it.
I can appreciate the accomplishments of the Chinese- the richness of its culture, and the fact that some of the greatest inventions in history originated in China. I also realize that this country is home to cruel acts, sometimes of barbaric proportions, in history, both recent & not so recent.
For me, being Chinese is not the be all and end all of my existence. There are those who will probably gasp in horror at my seeming indifference to my ethnic roots. And I don't begrudge those who feel strong ties to their "motherland". But I am an amalgamation of my life experiences; I am Singaporean Chinese with a some American thrown in.
I guess I could consider myself a third culture adult.
That is my identity.
Happy Birthday, aliendoc.