Do You Really Love Chinese Food? (Part 1)

Do You Really Love Chinese Food? (Part 1)

Do you genuinely think so, or are you simply paying a lip service and welcome only Americanized immigrants?

“I love Chinese food!” My American friends yelped.

“We have to eat real authentic Chinese food together sometime!” I shrieked excitedly.

Chinese food, like American food, includes a wide range of different types, depending on where it originates from. For instance, Sichuan food is numbingly spicy, Shanghai food is subtlely sweet, Shandong food is generously filling, and Cantonese food is delicately nourishing.

They are all Chinese food, yet so different from each other. I love Chinese food. However, now that I have moved to America – the land of opportunities – to pursue a college education, I no longer have 24/7 access to my favorite food anymore. I yearn for Chinese food, especially Dim Sum.

Dim Sum, not one specific dish, is a category of brunch food in Cantonese cuisine. It ranges from steamed savory pork to sweet tofu pudding. They usually come in bamboo containers, which are stacked in a trolley with an inside heater.

An older Chinese lady would push the trolley around and serve food through the steam rising from the hot dishes. Everyone can pick a few favorite dishes because each is served in small amounts and shared by the entire table. A pot of hot tea, a few trolleys pushed around, a few bamboo containers of food, a table of friends – together they make a classic Dim Sum experience.

When I finally found a must-try Dim Sum place in LA, I immediately invited my American friends, who had explicitly expressed their love for Chinese food. Very soon, a few of my close friends (all Americans) and I set up a Dim Sum date. “I love Chinese food!” my friends yelped again and again on our way to the restaurant. Even the abnormal pouring rain in LA could not quench their excitement. My heart was pounding – now they would finally get a real taste of my culture, and they would love it!

I was wrong. When the steaming dishes were put on table, my friends hesitated. Slightly frowning, they looked suspiciously at the food, “What’s this?” They pointed at the food with chopsticks loosely and unskillfully strangled in their hands. When they finally took their first bites, they stopped chewing almost as soon as the food touched their tongues.

Now, they looked down with eyebrows tightly knotted together, but still putting on a polite smile. I knew they had never had this before, and they did not like it. Not to mention love. Then, when I felt too painful to witness their reactions and looked away, they would quietly spit out the food. Some of them would not even try to hide, but gave me a funny face, “It’s weird.”

And then, they would not touch anything else without questioning, unless the more adventurous ones of them tried and approved it to be edible.

I was hurt, to say the least. I thought my friends loved Chinese food. I thought they loved my culture as much as they loved me. But is that true? Maybe my friends did not know what they got themselves into when they said they loved Chinese food.

Maybe they did not know better because it is not “politically correct” to tell someone of another cultural background (especially if they are minorities) that you do not like their culture. Or maybe they thought everything would come catered to their American taste, like how Panda Express is actually Chinese-like American food. When they came to Dim Sum with me, maybe, they were expecting something like Panda Express. They said they loved Chinese food, but they only love Americanized Chinese food.

If even my friends, who have been so loving to me, are like this, how many Americans actually love Chinese food? How many of them actually love immigrants’ cultural food? Do they even understand immigrants’ cultures? Do they claim to welcome and accept immigrants, but actually only like Americanized everything? Yes, I know it sounds like I am overreacting, but please at least hear me out before you make any judgment.

America is known as the land of opportunities for people of different backgrounds. Immigrants have come to America for different reasons for the past 400 years. Even the sonnet (the New Colossus) carved on the Statue of Liberty – the signature sculpture of America – sings America’s acceptance of immigrants.

It tells the “homeless”, the immigrants, to “give [America] your tired, your poor,/ your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It promises to “lift my lamp beside the golden door” so that immigrants can see the way towards an affluent future in America. The sonnet accentuates the “value” of America – diversity.

Certainly, now that Donald Trump is the new president, the country seems to have become unprecedentedly anti-immigrant. However, the president’s distaste for immigrants does not mean the public holds the same opinion. In fact, a lot of people, especially angry Democrats, have become even more supportive of immigrants. When Trump signed Executive Order 13769, people were shocked.

Democrats were enraged. When the Order was executed in January 2017, stopping immigrants from certain countries from entering America, nationwide protests at airports erupted. There is no need to argue how much most Americans dislike president Trump and his anti-immigration ideas. They protested just about everything related to Trump. However, how many of them literally hate everything Trump has to say?

A lot of people actually dislike Trump as a person, so much that they protest by becoming even more pro-immigration, only because Trump famously opposes immigrants. However, do they really understand and appreciate immigrants and their culture? Perhaps, even in today’s political atmosphere, most people still only say they welcome immigrants, and only love Americanized palatable minority cultures.

According to a recent survey, most people, especially Democrats, claim they think immigrants are as honest and hardworking as U.S. citizens. Almost half of the Democrats believe immigrants who are illegally staying should be allowed to become citizens if they meet requirements. The presidential candidate from the Democratic Party, Hilary Clinton declared at the eighth democratic debate that she wanted to keep immigrants and even “see them on a path to citizenship”. After the election, California State Senate leader also promised to “defend” immigrants who “[contribute] to the California Dream, but lack documentation.”

So many people like me come to America with beautiful American dreams, expecting to be accepted and appreciated for our unique backgrounds. But Americans – or at least most of them –do not seem to keep these promises, though doing a great job at paying lip service to immigrants. Otherwise, if the majority say they welcome immigrants, why when the population is behaving as one entity, the welcoming attitude does not seem to hold true anymore? Americans want the benefits of having immigrants, but they do not accept the immigrants’ tough-to-take-in cultures. They want only the “sweet deal”.

Wondering how this is the case? Come back next week, and I'll show you.
Cover Image Credit: Lucilla Dal Pozzo

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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