With globalization, people are increasingly interacting with other individuals from different ethnicities, and races, and it is evident that everyone is fighting for the same resources. However, our societal norms, customs, ideologies are still confining people to a social divide that can be termed to be unhealthy and unhospitable for others due to their racial and ethnic backgrounds. The two essays, Going Dutch: Reflections on Nation, Race, and Privilege" by Sadiqa Khan; "I'm a Banana and Proud of It" by Wayson Choy expose us the readers to some realities in our societies that have persisted over generations. The two prominent themes in these essay ethnicity and national identity. In this paper, we shall compare and contrast points that are outlined by the two authors regarding ethnicity and national identity.
Choy in his essay I am a banana and proud of it points out that he is a foreigner who has assimilated to the North American society and therefore identifies with them regardless his cultural background, race, and ethnicity (Choy, 2000). He points out that he has been assimilated into the western culture and that he has become a banana. Similar, Khan points out that somehow, leaving in Canada, has assimilated her, because, regardless being Dutch, she is viewed differently, because she as she orders her medium fries, she does not know that Dutch like their fries also served with mustard. Both Khan and Choy do not seem to speak their native language, they both agree that they have to assimilate into the society they are brought up in. In addition, they both agree that people do not have choices especially in areas where they settle in, for instance, Choy points out that the Chinese immigrants adapted, and encouraged their children to attend school and get good jobs(Khan, 2008).
From the two essays, we notice that the authors are both withdrawn from their culture and race, evidenced by the fact that they do not know either Dutch or Chinese and that they do not have any idea of their traditions. Both of them feel like something is lurking beside them. Choy notices, after the death of his parents that he does not belong in any of the two worlds unless he understands the past and finds the Chinese inside him(Choy, 2000). Khan, on the other hand, has Dutch features, and she agrees that that element she calls creature is within her. She acknowledges that she is not white but has constantly benefited from the privileges that come with it, for instance, profit inheritance, and warped relations. She admits that the world might have been harder for her if she did not embrace it when she says without that difference, how would we sleep at night(Khan, 2008).
Choy is proud to be called a banana, and he loves the North American citizenship, regardless the fact that his parents suffered in the past, as they were viewed as unwanted aliens. Choy does not seem bothered by the fact that his parents and other immigrants passed through several challenges to raise them well, and that is why he seems not to have high regard for his ethnic and cultural identity(Choy, 2000). Choy identifies that the North American immigrants in the 1950s and 60s encouraged their children to get English education and work in offices, and not like them. This implies that their parents faced exploitation too, and to avoid the misfortunes to their children they ensured that they get an education. This gradually eliminated their value for Chinese traditions. From Choys point of view continued stay and assimilation in North America converted them into bananas(Choy, 2000).
On the other hand, Shan observes that being White is attached to material wealth and comfort. She acknowledges that fact that race is a way that people have used to invent divisions, and it is the same reason that during colonization the devalued people were forced out of their lands, for them to inhabit. She acknowledges that the concept of race has constantly been used to exploit people to ensure that the standard of living among the Dutch is safeguarded(Khan, 2008).
Another contrast is that Choy seems to understand much later the value of ethnic identity, and it is the reason why he decides to explore the past, and do research regarding the painful histories of individuals that gave them the rights to be citizens(Choy, 2000). He begins to refocus his ideologies regarding his identity, and it is when he resolves the conflicts that are trapped within himself. Choy may not be brave enough to face the fact that he is different, but he outlines that just like everyone else, he wants happiness and security. He acknowledges that regardless how ripe he is, there is a constant reminder in the mirror that he is Chinese. From this statement, we can establish that, even though he does not plead out the struggles he goes through in the society from being different, he feels that there is a form of inequality lurking. Choy accepts the reality he lives as a North immigrant American(Choy, 2000).
Khan, on the other hand, does not seem proud to be White, as she outlines the injustices that have been done to fellow humans in the past, and which is continuing to ensure the white supremacy (Khan, 2008). She acknowledges that confronting racism, and inequality is not a simple task, and she identifies it from the earliest beginning, she spots inequality in the society, based on the privileges that she gets for being Dutch. She spots the ethnic divide from her interactions with various individuals(Khan, 2008). Unlike Choy who has to constantly assimilate, and accept the fact that he is Chinese, she admits that unless people refuse to sustain themselves through exploration, displacement or dispossession the concept of racism would not end.
Choy, W. (2000). I'm a Banana and Proud of It. Geocities.ws. Retrieved 9 November 2017, from http://www.geocities.ws/dhlphenuse/banana
Khan, S. (2008). Going Dutch. Briarpatchmagazine.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017, from https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/reflections-on-nation-race-and-privileg
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