What am I?

Snippets at a research meeting:

Student: Did you collect data on ethnicity as well?
Prof: No, we didn't. Collecting data that specific would have required parents to also do questionnaires. When we ask Grade 5 students directly what their ethnicity was, almost all answer: "Canadian. I am Canadian."

This has always fascinated me. When I was growing up, if you had asked me about my ethnic background, my answer would have been automatically Chinese. Because that's how I was mostly socialised (i.e., Melayu, Cina, India, Lain-lain).

Race is more of a unitary construct. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is more about the people, culture, language, customs, social, and geographic location you most identify with.

I am so much more than "just" Cina.

I love poutine. I love cili padi. I love Nanaimo bars. I love nasi lemak. I love Montreal-style smoked meat. I love kiam chai ark. I love maple sausages. I love durian. I make sambal; I eat that sambal. I say 'eh. I say la. I say sorry too much. I say aiyo. I speak British English. I speak Penang Hokkien. I speak Malay. I support LGBTQ+ rights. I spell things with the letter "u" and "s." I say Aluminium. I wear toques. I wear kebayas. I wear batik pajamas.

So, what am I, really, ethnically-speaking?

I am Nyonya. I am Chinese. I am South-East Asian. I am Canadian. I am Malaysian. I am Asian.

Remember, you are much more than just "Cina," "India, "Melayu, and "Lain-lain."

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