As a regular commenter for a little while now, I have noticed this blog hasn't received as much attention as intended, from the British Born Chinese online.
Maybe due to presumably radical content, maybe due to its unconventional attitude towards identity politics. For whatever reason, In my own way i'd like to address the issue of organising a new mindset for British Born Chinese.
Judging by the amount of anonymous commentors, and the humdrum of most other British Chinese online publications, people on here aren't appreciating enough the opportunity that this blog presents, which is basically to develop a new mindset for British Born Chinese.
Originally this article was meant to be a comment in reply to anonymous 6:04 on this post
A lot of interesting ideas tend to appear in comments, so I adopted the problem/solution structure with a view to presenting the possible reality of a new, more radical British Chinese mindset. Before I go into my personal take on this problem/solution structure.
I'll start by asking the question:
' what would be the goal of a new British Chinese mindset and what do you mean by 'mindset'?
'Create a platform based on Chinese pride or the principle of 'Te' 德 as it is known. ' for members of the British Born Chinese community to freely express and support others , share personal problems to build deeper trust within the group, both online, and in person, or by creating media that speaks out against institutionalised media racism, and offer of genuine trust and friendship to those in need,
Chinese pride is essentially the engine of the new mindset. What is Chinese Pride?
For some people it means eating and enjoying and cooking Chinese food. For some it means not taking flack from racists. For others it means dating a Chinese spouse. For others it means taking a career path that will progress Chinese culture in a positive way. As individuals we can all contribute to this Chinese pride in differing ways. With us obviously being a culture that have little need for social structure thanks to our independence, our name and race have been sacrificed and now we are suffering for this.
The tough part in any voluntary organisation, is to figure out what any one person is contributing, and respect that individual for what they are doing, and trust that person to fulfil the established responsibilities for their role in that organisation.
This obviously is quite an unorthodox way to create a culture. Indeed the above method sounds like some kind of military group. In practice various issues will crop up due to time constraints, limited skills,varying levels of commitment...but as an experiment in cultural advancement,its a start.
So what are the methods of expressing British Born Chinese cultural pride? Here is a list that I can think of , again please add comments at the end if I've missed anything.
1.Speaking out against racism. This is something that is quite important. The realistic situation of the way this racism appears is as follows
a/ sporadic racist takeaway incidents
b/ random casual racism
c/ institutionalised casual media racism
Okay so now let's look at the actuality of our situation. We are spread out. We are few in numbers and any support we can lend depends on geographical distance, our ability to react immediately and our ability to lend support, whether it be emotional, financial,physical. Half of our media representatives are arguably sellouts for government money who haven't really put our name on the map, and if anything have rendered us invisible.Individually, some of us have more responsibilities than others and therefore less time to contribute to any significant group contribution or action.
So there are quite a few factors there. And each building block must be built step by step so that it supports the building block above. Its quite a task.
So now let's look at motivating factors.
a/ our pride
b/ looking out for others
c/ having friends/support we can rely on
I'll be the first to openly admit I dont have any British Born Chinese friends. And I'll tell you why. It's because before I was such a hardcore proud Chinese, I never really thought about these issues. And now i'm a hardcore proud Chinese, i find it difficult to find people to meet who are on a similar wavelength , as everyone else seems comfortable with their western assimilated lifestyle, and to be honest I dont find many British Born Chinese people interesting thanks to that.
Prejudice? No, it's my factual honest observation. And i wish it wasn't so, so my personal motivation for this article is mainly c/.
Is my time wasted on this blog? No, I don't think so. I still associate with people who I find interesting and of a similar mindset, but I am consciously and deliberately making an effort to reach out to fellow Chinese who can possibly see the problems we have so maybe, just maybe with our skills and personalities we can do something that will make some kind of positive difference in the life of a fellow Chinese.
As you have probably guessed from reading this blog, there's a lot of anger, ranting, and the aforementioned negativity expressed. And that has understandably, pissed a lot of British Born Chinese off, because after all, once you have adopted 'an outlook that is comfortable' its easy to overlook alternative opinions that point huge gaps in what they are comfortable with.. For a lot of us, you can remove the Chinese part and just call us British, and you wouldn't have any complaints. It's gotten that bad.
Building this blog into a platform for ideas, and then having those ideas agreed upon and expressed within certain timeframes, carried out by volunteers - people who care enough about doing what they can to contribute. This will take great trust and It may not succeed, it may succeed a little. But like I said before, it's a social experiment based on 德 both in our Chinese nature to support each other -and seeing each other as family, rather than strangers, so in my opinion there is little to lose.
Problems and Solutions:
'We are too few'
This blog is a solution to small numbers. And again opening a google account so your regular comments can be identified on this blog, will also help build a real , truer mindset. And the success of that will be based on how much trust and belief we can gain in such a movement.
'We are a racial minority'
Before my recent Chinese pride reawakening, I had read some books on positive thinking and realised the word 'minority' is self-limiting.
South asians are a 'minority' and so are Blacks, but that hasn't stopped them from voicing out.So even given all the problems we have as a community, being a minority shouldn't stop us.Again with this blog as a support system, it can be the basis of many things.
To be honest, the real test is ' do we want to sacrifice our comfortable invisibility in order to receive flack for speaking out as a minority' Of course none of us will want to admit that in order to save face but the truth is, invisibility is quite comfortable, hence excess anonymous comments and even this blog. But we have to start somewhere. The price to pay doesnt have to be that much if we have a group that is fairminded. It is essentially human rights we are fighting for and by remaining invisible it basically means that you are giving up your rights. This issue may be a western epidemic as we do admittedly live in an age of lack of social responsibility, but then maybe we need to firstly reexamine the kind of people we have become before considering ourselves to be worthy of saying that we have 德.
'Our focus on family rather than community could possibly end in tears'
That we focus on family rather than community is indeed a Chinese mindset issue,and as unrelated as some would like to think, as an outsider, I have observed that China is also finding this as a problem as it's affluent society grows and its needs to implement new laws etc. Again, honest self expression with google IDS is the first step in creating some kind of community.
Okay so you've talked about Chinese pride, is there anything about being British we can be proud of?
Initially, I saw us as being born and raised in the west, the U.K. specifically as having an advantage - that with exposure to other ethnic groups we can learn how to create more human rights and identity for ourselves.
But on further analysis , I have realised British Born Chinese have different problems that need addressing. And the solution to framing our mindset from 'family' to 'community' is based in the root of the issue in the Chinese mentality itself which i will reveal at the end of this article, suffice to say, that it will take a small group of selfless individuals to do anything when 99% of Chinese could care less. But then again, my question to you is, how well do you know 德?
'Our viewpoints are too varying'
Yes we all come from all backgrounds, and personalities but when you get down to it, the 'British Born' part that varies is to do with our own personal varying levels of western assimilation.But by open debate we can find issues and how they apply to individual group members whilst at the same time respecting each individual for their contribution and better understanding where they are at. Sometimes this blog may come across as an angry male rant, but the issues in question whether we care to admit it or not affect both male and female - it affects the future of all British Born Chinese.
'Not enough British Born Chinese are interested in these issues to meet up'
If we really are as pro-Chinese as we make ourselves out to be on this blog, what could be the problem in meeting up? Fear of criticism is a big factor amongst Chinese mindset but in reality everyone can have opinions, but noone really knows more than anyone else. And instead of being scared off by stronger opinions have an open mind and question what has been said. And for those who have stronger opinions must be open to listen to opinions that maybe aren't as radical but equally as important.
And positively, the growth of the mindset on this blog in itself will create a culture. Some can label it as a clique or niche or cult, but so what. Isn't it better than invisibility?
What if i dont want to share my personal details/stories in public
These can be discussed away from the blog. Skype conversation, or in person. But having more group contribution to this blog in terms of articles, and feedback will then attract more new visitors, and hopefully expand the group and forge a mindset that is positive, and active and problem solving.
No real solution found after one or two real meetings?
Okay so fine. At least we tried. can always come back on here and comment. Nothing has been lost but the potential to gain a lot is much more valuable in the long run
Chinese pragmatic nature is such that it tends to want instant results through tried and tested methods to save time. But it's only by experimenting with an open mind to accept new ideas can we possibly find a way forward, and this is essentially trusting of a single consciousness to form out of our community, and sharpen us as individuals at the same time.
It's a test of our new ability to be objective but passionate about our Chinese heritage at the same time. And shared with others, and being open and vulnerable as difficult as it may be, can reap benefits. Historically it hasn't been proven in any any new progressive areas of any new development ( science, politics, culture) that development was ever easy, or had 'easy answers'. We cant all be 100% right in our efforts, but discussion debate and acceptance of each other as individuals will help us forge a single consciousness.
' No one specific area to socialise'Solution:
Let's be positive on this - we can socialise anywhere. pool halls, people's homes, hired church venues. parks. there is no limit to where we can socialise...just because we are discussing heavier issues than maybe considered the norm, it doesn't make an area any less viable to socialise in. Again, if we care about it enough, where there's a will there's a way. And after discussing online getting to know each others comments via google accounts...how about a group skype chat to begin with?
' We are too spread out geographically'
To begin with, creating accountability on this blog, with an identifiable google id. That way you can be accountable to yourself as well as the community of this blog.
Its great to have lots of anonymous commentors but it becomes a hassle to keep track of all the anonymous people, and when those same anonymous people have made great valuable interesting comments...there's no way of finding out who they belong to. In that respect, you are still accepting your invisible stereotype!
By forming some kind of community on this blog, this is also a solution for those in hard to reach areas and by seeing how the consciousness is building and eventually could lead to that person maybe considering in travelling the distance to meet up in person.
'Lack of accountability'
Again, this blog is the best way to get involved and show accountability as well as contributing articles.
Personally speaking, having written my first article, I was nervous as hell, and believe me I hate criticism and attention, and half expecting to be bashed by naysayers, was reluctant to see what comments would actually turn up.
But the funny thing is, it doesn't seem that we are as different as we would think, Its only that we are in differing states of denial.Also, the act of writing articles is an act of 'giving' rather than commenting which can easily lead to trolling, which i admit ive been guilty of, so now im more watchful of my own words.
The biggest problem in my opinion :
In my opinion, our need for 'face'( and the negative stuff linked to it) is one of our biggest obstacles to any progressive movements in social consciousness and for Chinese its our biggest flaw. That, combined with our successful ability to be highly independent allows us to save face even more , which in effect creates a vicious cycle of non-commitment
Once we can replace the above with a higher desire to be objective, and replace our need for instant results with a patient and open mind, and replacing having to be perfect infront of others ( to save face) with , again an open mind , and humbleness to openly make mistakes infront of others, we can make some headway
'Lack of trust'
In other comments I negatively have remarked that this is an issue ( as much as BBCS wouldnt care to admit, probably to save face ) amongst Chinese.
By creating google accounts and learning to built trust towards each other online. This is the hardest thing, but easily overcome. Because despite having a google account, you can still remain anonymous. And with enough consistency we can learn to trust and open up. At the next stage , as in most human relationships this can made stronger, when we eventually meet up in person. We all have weaknesses, it may be more difficult for some of us to actually share those up in person, but that's why we have to try that much harder.
Because the truth is lying to ourselves hasnt done any good either,. Any personal issues of trust, will vary within each individual, but this factor is the most important of all for this group to have any foundation. And this means being open about negative personal experiences and realising that we arent superhuman and admitting that to each other. Strength in vulnerability in other words.
' Not much time or energy left to support the ethnic Chinese community at large'
We are all guilty of not having enough time but successful people make time for things they care about.
For all the time that can be spent on here typing comments could be spent in a one hour meeting in a park, or at a pool hall, or whatever.
Solutions are hard to come by and issues are easy to debate, but putting into action ideas that work...although would take some work...and time and maybe would not work out, as anything of this scope requires a certain amount of commitment. But this BLOG is the future of the British Born Chinese community and the only thing in our British Born Chinese life that is asking us to think outside the norm and take a new risk towards developing a new mindset - one that hasn't been fully developed yet. And we should use it.
And aside from being a blog where we can express our anger at injustice, we can also create the future of our community and record for ourselves a sense of achievement of milestones that we can be proud of as a real community. I mean who really considers Chinatown a community? To me, it's where a bunch of Chinese people happen to work. Lets go beyond that.
Its possible that if we dont develop, then there is the very real potential for future of British Born Chinese, to become extinct. But the focus of this article is....lets make hay whilst the sun is still shining.
A new found confidence, new rolemodels to give future generations, more respect gained from mainland Chinese, giving them another positive reason to move to the UK, boosting the UK economy and boosting our community as well and indirectly solving SOME of the problems on this blog that British Born Chinese face.
If that's not enough reward, then what else is there?
The work that creating a new identity or culture will take a lot of work and sacrifice. And why would any self-respecting Chinese sacrifice themselves and their short term benefits for long term benefits that they will not be able to benefit from?
Well, that's exactly my point. And until we reframe the short term gain for long term again, we wont be able to shrug off the 'selfish' stereotype either. It's time we looked out for other Chinese, and break the cycle, not perpetuate it.
Being a western born Chinese is a great privilege. Whilst in China, there can be differences between different areas such as north and south, Hong Kong and Mainland, we can show that overseas, we are united. Because as is always the situation in human mentality, when there is a bigger war to fight, smaller armies join together. Not the greatest of analogies, but you get what I am saying.
'What power do we really have as a group of maybe 4-5 people?'
No, a blog can't save the world, but it can provide the foundation of change. 4-5 people with a united mindset is enough to influence that change i believe. No guarantees as to results, but what have we lost except more time playing xbox watching eastenders or the footie? The key here is to realise the importance of social development in our culture. It's amazing for me to see that whilst a lot of us Chinese love to catch up on the latest social technology we never see how our own social awareness has been allowed to stagnate at the same alarmingly rapid rate.
So that's it, despite all the obvious glaring holes in our culture, I've tried to be as supportive and realistic as possible. British Born Chinese can come across as an oxymoron, and a certain cause of embarassment as in a sense we are proud of being identified with China's oppressors.But really we can make up for that by presenting a strong foundation based on 德, combined with the fairness and genuine positive qualities that the people of this country represent, as well as the real celebration of embracing our real Chinese roots , ancestry and the freedom to express that as individuals, united, who happen to communicate with - but not limited by, the British language.
What other problems do we need to deal with and else can we do to create a new British Born Chinese mindset that expresses our Chinese pride?