Acceptance: Chinese & American Born Chinese Perspectives in Poetry
The United States is a place where people can have diverging views on how to describe the diverse nation. The country in fact does not have an official language because of the myriad of distinct ethnicities residing within the country. With all this diversity it is only natural for people to struggle with which cultural norm to follow. Of the many immigrants that have journeyed to the U.S. for a better life, Chinese immigrants perhaps have been discriminated against the most because at one point they were considered an alien incapable of assimilating which lead to laws preventing their immigration and naturalization during our nation’s not too distant history. From a Chinese perspective, appearance is everything and by default that means acceptance as well. Chinese immigrants often will develop opposing personas since the United States is predominantly an individualistic society whereas Chinese society is predominantly a collectivist culture. This imbalance in values has caused some Asian-Americans to become baffled over how to discover their true identity. While achieving acceptance while balancing multiple identities is not an easy feat to accomplish, authors Kitty Tsui and Laureen Mar have used poetry in similar and dissimilar ways to support people who are endeavoring to navigate through diverse and conflicting identities, through their poems: A Chinese Banquet and My Mother; Who Came From China, Where She Never Saw Snow.
Both authors are activists that use poetry as well as other literary mediums to reach a broader audience. Tsui was born in Hong Kong and she is a lesbian with a loving partner so she is very familiar with longing for acceptance since she is a minority within a minority. Mar is of Chinese descent born in the United States at a time when discrimination against Chinese and Asians in general was still vastly prevalent
Cited: Mar, Laureen. "My Mother; Who Came from China, Where She Never Saw Snow." Barnet, Sylvan, William Burto and William E. Cain. A Little Literature. New York: Longman, 2007. 532-533. Poem. Tsui, Kitty. "A Chinese Banquet." Barnet, Sylvan, William Burto and William E. Cain. A Little Literature. New York: Longman, 2007. 612-614. Poem.