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Eric Liu in his article ‘The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker’ says that through assimilation, people lose certain things, but they, too, gain something beneficial. A typical Asian refers to an Asian American as a ‘banana’ meaning a person who does not have ancestral roots, eager to please, impressionable, and imitative. Some whites call them ‘honorary white’. These terms are simply insults and they contribute to racism. Racism should be stopped at all cost, and immigrants should be treated with respect. They should not undergo psychological torture simply because they have color, race, and culture different from that of whites. America does not belong to whites and people of different colors ought to be accommodated. Some children feel lost when they realize that they lack ancestral roots in their country of origin yet, they also get mocked while in America. This makes them lose the sense of identity and a child may feel inferior especially if his self-esteem is low. Immigrants, therefore, should be treated with dignity, and their rights should be respected.
The Asian American speaks of his life in America and the life he underwent before getting adapted to American life. His parents were of Chinese origin but, through their trading activities, they went to the West where they later settled. During his childhood, before reaching adolescent, he did not realize that he was different from the other children. When he became an adolescent, he realized that his manners, love, and looks did not resemble those of other adolescents. As a child, he was proud of being associated with civilization, but these differences disturbed him. He realized that he had the same hairstyle, a tapered bowl cut, since his birth. He now wanted a teenager hairstyle adapted by his age mates. However, his hair could not match that hairstyle since it was wiry, straight, and rigid. He could not comb it from back to front. He tried several hairstyles, but none would fit his hair. In fact, people would ridicule him for it looked bad. He invented several styles, but none of them appeared ‘cool’. The chines would blame his chines genes for being that unfortunate. He regarded his hair as a social burden until he was taken by his friend to have it shaved. Girls found him funny, smart, and sweet. However, such words to him sounded to be flattery. Some girls liked him genuinely; others enjoyed him while others were afraid of associating with an Asian American as it meant shame.
He found himself scorning the girls whom he coveted. He decided to seek refuse in various talents, which he possessed. For example, he would play orchestra. He also joined wrestling teams, science clubs, and he would also edit school papers. Other students regarded him as another Asian achiever who did not want to get involved with girls. The Chinese also suffered whenever there was a ceremony because he lacked etiquette. He felt like a stranger. Since he was married to an American, he had to overcome these and get adapted. In China, words such as excuse me, may I, thank you, please among others were unheard of. Taking dinner was also a major problem. The furniture used disturbed him so much. He feared being asked to say something while at the dining table because he would have lacked words. He did not know the pieces to use. The order of usage was also unknown to him. Back home, they used chopsticks that could not be found in American ceremonies. He felt awkward whenever he sat down to dine with his girlfriend’s family because he would be brought huge servings that he was not used to eating back home. He admits that at times he wished he would go back home and enjoy their usual meals. The new atmosphere seemed wondrous to him. He would open his eyes wide to observe American customs. He would spend a lot of time with them and finally he became adapted. He learnt their day-to-day idioms to fit while in their presence.
In college, the Chinese also felt quite uncomfortable, but at least he heard learnt how to deal with such issues. He would mainly do the opposite of what Americans believed would be done by Asians. First, he decided to join a history class, yet Asians were attributed to performing well in sciences and mathematics. Asians were also regarded to be weak. To prove them wrong, he would lift weights, and he preferred to be patriotic rather than an alien. He tried to be an all round student by participating in various activities especially those that were believed to be for Americans. This does not mean that he did not want to be associated with Asians. If anything, he was proud of being Asian and be felt good when he was the only Asian in a certain club. He did not joining Asian groups as this further contributed to racism.
The term assimilation should not be misinterpreted as the white way of being, or whitening. The Native speaker put it clearly that he can be referred to as a white because he can do everything a white can do even though he does not have the white color. It would be important if immigrants became integrated in the American culture rather than being seen as people of a different race who should not be respected. Their fellow Asians or the whites should not insult them. First, some of them did not choose to be in America, but their parents immigrated. They later became citizens of America, and they have a right to study, work, or even marry there. Native speakers lack ancestral heritage and they all wish that the world would learn to integrate them.