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Mainland Chinese Scholars and Students Organization was formed just two years ago. So I feel like it is very unhealthy. Cause it doesn‘t show any unity in an Asian American community. So I know a lot of people in MCSSO, the Mainland Chinese Scholars and Students Organization, I know they were born in China. But the fact that they go to an American school that also
167 makes them American in a sense that they are exposed to American culture. So I feel there should be some sort of compromise between them. Like even though you were born in China, you should still appreciate and respect American culture. And even though you were born in America, you should show appreciation for Chinese culture, especially since you are Chinese. So I just feel like there is no unity in any of the student groups. So I don‘t know. I don‘t know if any other people share that kind of opinion. But I think it is unhealthy, the fact that like Asians are all splitting up. [Jane, 4/16/10] The disagreement between CSO and MCSSO, to some extent, projected the struggles between my informants (second generation) and their parents (first generation) in terms of how ―being Chinese‖ could be interpreted differently. Because ethnicity is racialized, the term ―Chinese American‖ is often used to include both first generation Chinese immigrants who were born in China and migrated as adults, and their offspring who were born in the U.S., although social scientists suggest that their assimilation experience should be framed differently. Jane was more looking for a unity as a kind of ―compromise‖ between the two distinct but related groups since she herself got confused about ―What our people are?‖ as Chinese Americans or Asian Americans. But maybe the question was not so much about unification versus separation as to recognize the complexity of ―performing Chinese‖ in American society because it always involves how this ethnic identity is racialized and defined individually and socially. AC spoke of how she participated in and then withdrew from a Chinese cultural dance troupe. Growing up in a mid-west suburban town in Kansas, AC constantly got comments from her relatives and friends about how she was whiter than Chinese, which were not made in a complimentary tone. Since she liked dancing
168 and movement, she considered joining this dance group a good opportunity to ―hook up with‖her ancestors‘ culture as well as enjoy something fun. Throwing herself intoa group of Chinese Americans did not help with her Chinese-roots-finding process, but, on the contrary, made her more aware of her not being Chinese enough. In other words, her discomfort came from how she felt different from and excluded by other Chinese Americans in the same dance group. If there was a scale to evaluate the ―thickness‖ of her Chineseness, she might score low.