Friday, April 15, 2005

"Maybe I Am Part Chinese"

Today my kids had a day off from school. It was beautiful here in Chicago and I wish I was out playing some baseball like my boys or hanging with my girls (wife and daughter).

Anna, who is in 6th grade and friends with everyone, has a great sense of what it means be inclusive. At a recent birthday party we threw for her, 31 6th graders attended because she did not want any of her classmates to feel left out (or maybe she just wanted more presents!). It was amazing that night to see kids from every ethnic group at the school having fun together in our home. I did have to threaten the squirrelly boys not to set foot upstairs.

A few of Anna's closest friends are Asian. Linda, who is Chinese, is a very good friend, and she is at our home as I write this hanging out with my daughter. Not long ago, as we were eating white rice at dinner, Anna looks up and says, "Maybe I am part Chinese, cuz I love white rice and I have so many Asian friends."

I thought, ' you are already so mestizo-ized with your urban, Mexican, Italian heritage, why not add another culture into the mix?

I have to admit, I am a total rookie when it comes to understanding the nuances of the Asian cultures that make their home in the US, let alone the world. But, to be mestizo through and through, I am convinced means being a student of cultures.

I am reading a book written by Eric Liu, entitled, The Accidental Asian. Listen to what is written on the back flap of his book:

"Beyond black and white, native and alien, lies a vast and fertile field of human experience. It is here that Eric Liu, former speechwriter for President Clinton and noted political commentator, invites us to explore.

In these compellingly candid essays...Liu, a second-generation Chinese American reflects on the shifting frames of ethnic identity. He looks critically at the cost of his own assimilation. Finally, Liu illuminates the space that Asians have always occupied in the American imagination."

It is sure tempting for me to be so Latino focused (thus my continual references to Latino race and heritage) that I forget to 'see' and appreciate the incredible variety of human experience outside of my own.

My kids are teaching me that touching and being touched by other cultures is necessary in today's mestizo world. I am realizing already, that I have so much in common with the experiences of Eric Liu.

For my sake, and for the sake of CCDA, and other ministries I am involved in, I pray that I/we learn to fully embrace our brothers and sisters of Asian ancestry.

"Love your neighbor as yourself..."
Jesus of Nazareth


At 2:15 PM, Blogger djchuang said...

In an increasing multicultural and multiracial world, especially right here in the USA, there's a whole lotta mestizo goin' on! I'd like to see more Latino & Asian dialogue happen, I think our racial groupings share similar intergenerational issues and wide diversity under a big umbrella-- that is, not all Asians are alike, and not all Latinos/ Hispanics are alike; but we're all lumped together under one census grouping.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Orlando Feliciano said...

Hola Noel, Family, and friends...
I'm born in America of Puerto Rican ancestry and can connect with your comments. You see I have a 3 year old daughter that is Chinese who has been a blessing in our lives since we adopted her 3 years ago. We do have something in common we love mom's spanish rice. Just the other day our daughter ask mom for a dish of rice and beans....those words just rang so beautiful in my ears. Oh by the way Noel I found your blog as I was doing some research on The Challenge of Multiculturalism for the American Church.


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