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ABC: American Born Chinese

I saw this on NPR and thought it had a very powerful visual message. Its a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, called American Born Chinese and it recently won the National Book Award. Its a powerful journey through the life of a second generation immigrant Chinese boy in his predominately white  suburban upbringing. I think the issues raised here are perhaps quite similar to that of many first and second generation African immigrants.

It reminds me of my own experience in school in England where I was the only black girl in my class, until an African boy from Angola joined the class. And if you listen to Mr. Yang's story, I had almost the exact same experience where I was sort of expected to befriend the boy but I couldn't understand what he was saying most of the time. But now, in hindsight, I wish I would have made more of an effort.

Check it out


  • I often feel like the story of Immigrants is the same across the board. It does not really matter where you come from, it just matters that you come from somewhere else than where you currently live.
    One of my best friends is Indian, we met as colleagues and were both in our first jobs post-college. We clicked because our stories were similar: two foreign girls caught in the middle of tug-of-war. Both our “people” thought we were too “westernized” (read we listen to rock and are ok with our sexuality), and our american counterparts still saw us as “non-american” (we will still ask for our parents permission before marrying a guy.)…
    Sorry to write a post on your post, loll. But it’s a commonality I think people often overlook. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront.

  • Sula, thanks for the post/comments. I enjoy reading everyone’s analysis. I agree w/ being the hypen between westernized" and “non-American”.

  • Even though it’s annoying that, as immigrants, we’re expected to befriend all newcomers to America, I think we should ignore the fact that people assume we’ll naturally do it and, well, do it anyway.
    Regardless of the hyphen-era that we live in, where everyone is ‘proud’ to express that they are a[n] X-American, there is still a majority who feel that one should ignore the ethnic identity that they had before they reached America. Therefore, I feel it is especially pertinent that we welcome our fellows and let them know that not everyone living here has forgotten where they came from.


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