October 20, 2011
“Notes of a Native Speaker” Summary
In 1998, Eric Liu wrote a book about his struggle with acculturation titled “The Accidental Asian”. A chapter within the book called “Notes of a Native Speaker” depicts an essay written by Liu which fully describes his struggles with race and how he overcame them. Eric Liu is an American born Taiwanese Asian. His parents immigrated to the United States before he was born and in so, gave him a mixed cultural background. He started becoming a writer after attending Yale University and graduating from Harvard Law School. In his “Notes of a Native Speaker” author Eric Liu argues that as he was “becoming white” he was achieving, learning the ways of the upper middle class and distancing himself from radicals of any hue. He has assimilated and in turn put himself into the profile of the “banana”.
To begin, Liu opens his essay with a brief list of reasons as to why people can consider him to be white. One example from his list is that he eats “gourmet greens” (Liu 1). He goes on to state how he has reached a new status George in America. White people call him an “honorary white” (Liu 2), while fellow Asian people call him a “banana” (Liu 2), in that he is yellow (Asian) on the outside and white on the inside. Liu believes that assimilation has been “fixed in whiteness” (Liu 4). If anyone assimilates, then it is to be white. He adds that the assimilated are portrayed to be traitors to their own race; “He cannot gain the world without losing his soul” (Liu 6).
After Liu’s extensive introduction he begins to inform the reader of his childhood and his parents. His parents did not strictly follow Chinese culture. Instead they clung to the relaxed American culture and in turn, did not force Chinese culture on Liu. Liu suggests that this is how he was able to assimilate so easily. While in fourth grade he made no distinctions between races. It made no difference if one friend was black and...
Cited: Liu, Eric. “Notes of a Native Speaker.” The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker. Ed. Jon Karp. New York: Random House, 1998. 33-56. Print.
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