For me, it represents the broken bloodline of my Chinese inheritance…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-07-31 21:00Z by Steven

Jade bracelets are meant to protect Chinese toddlers when they’re learning to walk, like talismans – if the baby falls down, the idea is that the circle of stone will smash rather than the child be hurt. For me, it represents the broken bloodline of my Chinese inheritance – disrupted by the fact that my mother was adopted as an orphan – but also my efforts to reintegrate the Chinese half of my identity,” [Sarah] Howe says.

Clare Tyrrell-Morin, “Prize-winning Hong Kong-born poet Sarah Howe makes verse of city’s Basic Law,” South China Morning Post, July 7, 2016.

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Prize-winning Hong Kong-born poet Sarah Howe makes verse of city’s Basic Law

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive on 2016-07-08 01:55Z by Steven

Prize-winning Hong Kong-born poet Sarah Howe makes verse of city’s Basic Law

South China Morning Post

Clare Tyrrell-Morin

Having played down her Chinese side while growing up and studying in the UK, Howe, now at Harvard, has turned to it again as she makes an ‘erasure poem’ out of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution

We meet in a small office on the second floor of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, overlooking a tranquil garden unseen from Harvard University’s main thoroughfares. It’s freezing outside, but the view is spectacular: the bare branches of an ancient tree, contemplated by scholars for generations, silhouetted against a wintry sky. It’s a good view for a poet.

The office belongs to a Radcliffe Fellow, Sarah Howe, who is spending the year here with 50 other artists and scholars. You may not know her name yet, but Howe could become one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated writers.

In December, the 32-year-old won the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award for authors under the age of 35. The previous month, scientist Stephen Hawking read out a poem, titled “Relativity”, that she had written for him for Britain’s National Poetry Day. And, in January, Howe was presented with the £20,000 (HK$204,000) T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry at a lavish ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.

Her winning collection was “Loop of Jade”, which weaves around her identity as a British-Chinese poet born in Hong Kong. The dualistic, hybrid work dances between the search for her mother’s Chinese roots and subjects as varied as censorship, 14th-century Flemish paintings, evenings in Arizona and the rain in London. The book captures a quest for identity, dislocation and the crossing of waters – themes familiar to many a Hongkonger – yet, equally, it is an exploration of the Western literary canon and the impact Chinese poetry has had on it…

Read the entire article here.

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Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-09-09 20:14Z by Steven

Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China

Lijia Zhang, Writer, Journalist, Social Commentator

Lijia Zhang recounts her struggle to instill pride and love of all things Chinese in her daughters

May, my 17-year-old elder daughter, told me the results of her school exams by phone. When there was a pause, she asked: “Are you disappointed?” I shouldn’t have been. Three As and a B were good results.

But the problem was that she got the B in Chinese. And she is half Chinese.

I see it partly as my fault in failing to speak Chinese consistently at home, at least for the time May and her younger sister, Kirsty, spend at my house. The truth is that she’s really interested in the language and, indeed, the Chinese part of her cultural heritage.

A few years back, I took the girls to Bangladesh for a holiday. As soon as we were out of my friend’s guarded complex, we were surrounded by curious locals.

“Where are you from?” they asked the girls. May, the spokeswoman of the two, replied without hesitation: “We are from England.”

After we had settled down in a rickshaw, I said to May: “You were born in Beijing. Save for four years in London, you grew up in China. How does it qualify you as ‘English’?” May blinked her big round eyes. “Well, if I tell people I am Chinese, they wouldn’t believe me.”

True, May doesn’t look very Chinese, with her fair skin and brown hair, especially the way she carries herself. Kirsty, who has a darker complexion and more delicate facial features, looks a little more oriental.

Yet they both fundamentally identify themselves as British, even though they do sometimes describe themselves as “half Chinese and half British”…

Read the entire article here.

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Afro-Chinese marriages boom in Guangzhou: but will it be ’til death do us part’?

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2014-08-05 17:42Z by Steven

Afro-Chinese marriages boom in Guangzhou: but will it be ’til death do us part’?

South China Morning Post Magazine
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China

Jenni Marsh, Assistant Editor

Jennifer Tsang and Eman Okonkwo at their wedding in Guangzhou in April. Photo: Jenni Marsh

Guangzhou is witnessing many Afro-Chinese marriages, but the mainland’s lack of citizenship rights for husbands and a crackdown on foreign visas means families live in fear of being torn apart, writes Jenni Marsh

Eman Okonkwo’s foot-tapping at the altar is not a sign of nerves. The groom’s palms aren’t sweaty, there are no pre-wedding jitters and certainly no second thoughts. Today he is realising a dream imagined by countless African merchants in Guangzhou: he is marrying a Chinese bride.

Seven days earlier, Jennifer Tsang’s family was oblivious to their daughter’s romance. Like many local women dating African men, the curvaceous trader from Foshan, who is in her late 20s – that dreaded “leftover woman” age – had feared her parents would be racially prejudiced.

Today, though – having tentatively given their blessing – they snuck into the underground Royal Victory Church, in Guangzhou, looking over their shoulders for police as they entered the downtown tower block. Non-state-sanctioned religious events like this are illegal on the mainland.

Okonkwo, 42, doesn’t have a single relative at the rambunctious Pentecostal ceremony, but is nevertheless delighted.

“Today is so special,” beams the Nigerian, “because I have married a Chinese girl. And that makes me half-African, half-Chinese.”

In Guangzhou, weddings like this take place every day. There are no official figures on Afro-Chinese marriages but visit any trading warehouse in the city and you will see scores of mixed-race couples running wholesale shops, their coffee-coloured, hair-braided children racing through the corridors…

Guinean trader Cellou with his wife, Cherry, and their children. Photo: Robin Fall

…Chinese prejudice against Africans is normally based on three aspects: traditional aesthetic values, an ignorance of African culture and society, and the language barrier.

Furthermore, until the 1970s, foreigners were not permitted to live in the mainland, let alone marry a Chinese. When a child is born, the parents must register its ethnicity with the authorities: of the 56 boxes they can tick, “mixed-race” is not an option.

But there are factors other than racism that might lead a family to reject a mixed marriage.

Linessa Lin Dan, a PhD student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong researching Afro-Chinese relations in Guangzhou, says many African men who propose already have wives in their home countries – Muslims are permitted by their religion to take multiple spouses. Furthermore, Lin has heard tales of husbands returning to Nigeria on a business trip, leaving a mobile-phone number that doesn’t connect and disappearing.

“The Chinese wife is left with their children, and shamed for marrying a hei gui [black ghost],” says Lin…

Read the entire article here.

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