Friday, April 18, 2008

You damn Yankees are all alike.

Often, while going about my day-to-day, I get what I call "ethnoquizzed." Yesterday's encounter seemed par for the course, but it ended on an interesting note.

"No, I--"
"Well, we are--"
"From China?"
"My heritage is from Hong Kong. But I--"
"Oh, Hong Kong is China."
"Well, most people from Hong Kong don't say they are from China."
"But Hong Kong is part of China."
"Yes, it is now."
"I am from Africa. China has lots of people. I hope they have more, because they can stand up to the Americans."

Hm. Not usually how this conversation goes. Puzzled, I continue with this intriguing African man ringing up my strawberry plant.

"But the Chinese don't have freedom. People cannot have more than one child. Here you can have as many children as you want," as I nod at my two little ones in the shopping cart.
"Really? Well, it's population control."

I try not to laugh at this point.

"If you are an American citizen, then you are an American, right?"
"Yes, but I am African-American, and you are Chinese-American. I still have my memory and love for our ways in Africa. It is different than Americans. They don't have this."
"But if you stayed in Africa, then wouldn't you be like everyone else there?"
"Oh, that is very philosophical. You are getting philosophical."

Oh, now I am getting philosophical? After attempting to criticize Americans for being Americans and wanting to draw a faulty distinction between being an American and an American citizen, I am the one getting philosophical? After being thusly dismissed, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was born and raised here just like every other Yankee he disdains.

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