• The story of Lou Jing, dubbed Chocolate Girl and Black Pearl, reminds us that claiming one’s own identity, as Tiger Woods and President Obama have done in the United States, is not as easily done in many parts of Asia.
• Indeed, many people have publicly questioned whether Lou Jinghad a “right” to even compete in a show for Chinese contestants. Time Magazine ran the headline, “Can a Mixed-Race Contestant Become a Chinese Idol?”
• Lou Jing was born in Shanghai. She speaks Mandarin. She has never met her American father. The only identity she has known is that of a young Chinese woman.• In the same way, the only identity I have known, for many years, is that of an American woman. It is only through my most recent trips to Asia that I can see I am no more American than I am Asian.
• In my recent trip to Japan, a short trip to Osaka, most people started off the conversation with me in Japanese. It was only when I halted did they switch to English. Perhaps pops stars such as Crystal Kay have paved a way for me, making it easier for Japanese people to expect a mixed-race person to understand a language that has become foreign to me.•
• But then, this same rationale would not account for my treatment in Vietnam, where most people assumed that I would speak Japanese. In both of these cases, I felt more Asian than American. This feeling, though perhaps obvious to some, was unexpected, yet welcome
• For many years, I have tried to disassociate from a country that disowned my Japanese mother, first for being a prostitute – and then for marrying a black man. It would not be a stretch to say that some readers, judging from their online comments, would like to see Lou Jing do the same thing.
• Thankfully, Lou Jing seems to remain steadfast about one thing: She is Chinese. She speaks Chinese. She lives in China. And her mother is the most loving person she knows.
• This bond between mother and mixed-race child offers further proof that a key factor in forming racial identity is through the relationship between a child and his parent or parents, as noted in an important study on racial identity published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology in 2005:•
• Without a doubt, parents seemed to be the single most influential people in the development and expression of participants’ racial identity. … In general, it seemed that participants adopted the racial– ethnic label of the parent to whom they felt emotionally closest or whom they viewed as most dominant in the household.• Miville, Marie L. and Constantine, Madonna G. Chameleon Changes: An Exploration of Racial Identity Themes of Multiracial People, Journal of Counseling Psychology by the American Psychological Association, 2005, Vol. 52, No. 4, 507-516
In my home, I culturally and ethnically bondedwith my Japanese mother, even though I wasforbidden from speaking the language afterthe age of three or four.
• And it is the Japanese culture that I bond with most now, so many years later. Even though I look African American or an amalgamation thereof, I feel Japanese. Indeed, on my recent trip to Osaka, I felt more at home in Japan – than I do in Palo Alto, Orange County or Sacramento, California.
• So in my home, I bonded with some elements of my Japanese culture, and some elements of my African American culture. Mostly, I became a little lost in who I was, and where I belonged. Mostly, I tried to fit in with society by becoming “American.”
• And yet, I remained very close to my mother, feeling very much the daughter of a Japanese mother, a woman who was somewhat reserved but caring.
• And this is where I see the connection between Lou Jing and my own story: the strong bond between mother and daughter:If anything, their enduring bond as mother and daughter only seems to have gotten stronger. After all, for all their critics, there were just as many supporters.Emily Chang, CNN
• Indeed, some people are calling Lou Jing names, telling her to get out of China or that shes not really Chinese. Some, mostly anonymous, are saying even harsher things, and many in the media are focusing on the issue of racism against blacks in China and throughout Asia.
• And so, while it would be easier to say that the story involving Lou Jing is another clear example of racism in Asia, and a factor in explaining why mixed-race people do not feel truly at home in Asia, the story is much more complicated than that – and the story is evolving.
As China continues to open up, this kind of phenomenon will become ever more prevalent," says David Zweig, a professor of humanities and social sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. This is part of the process of internationalization, but we can only hope that Chinese people, including netizens and the people whose views tend towards extremism, can come to accept that there are many mixed-race people, both in China and worldwide. Time Magazine
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