The Revised Guide on How to Deal With the Chinese Community in the UK
It's that time of year again where cute dragons dance to the beat of the drum in their plimsolled feet. Dim sum, noodles and bowls of rice are a plenty on street corners of Chinatown and everyone plays guessing games with their Chinese horoscopes. Little red packets of notes tend to be a favourite particularly to those receiving them in Chinese families. It can only be Chinese New year in all it's red and gold glory : a celebration for those who identify as Chinese, including mixed blooded folks like myself.
Being born and raised as part BBC - that's British Born Chinese, I can't even start on the immense and valuable experiences I have gained here in the UK, stemming from my rich and ancient heritage.
Here's a friendly and updated guide on how to deal with the most long-established Chinese community in Europe. We have indeed, been here for a very long time. All tips and hints are based on firsthand accounts and are fully authentic.
If someone tells you they are Filipino that means they are from the Philippines. Not from China. If they tell you they are from Vietnam again, they are not from China. Shock fact, not every Far East person is Chinese. For all you demographic administrators designing ethnicity forms, it is tiresome seeing just Chinese representing the entire 'Other Asian' section. That's like listing Latino under Scandinavia. Go buy a map-see that big country with the wall running through it? That's alot bigger than 'Other Asia'.
As for getting Japanese and Chinese culture mixed up? Especially not a good idea.
Trust me, unless they're crustaceans, your pets are safe. We keep pets too and are happy to show you snapshots of them alive and well and that they don't practise cannabilism. This even applies to the goldfish despite us preparing some cracking seafood.
We do not understand the words Ching Chong. No, really we don’t. Or chongchongchong. Or chingchongtingtongwingwong. If you find out what they mean, please tell us because we get them yelled at us all the time from passing cars, friendly pedestrians and curious school children. I have yet to know what on earth my school bullies were trying to say to me more than twenty years ago.
Yes, Ni Hao to you too. You do realise we’re perfectly okay with Hi or Hello, except on London public transport where you’re not supposed to talk to anyone and weirdly enough is where we get bombarded with the most Ni Haos. Contrary to pantomime belief I have never uttered the words Ah So nor decided to dud up a Thai greeting by pressing my palms together to greet my Chinese brethren.
Speaking of vocabulary, if you're a TV scriptwriter and decide to include a Chinese character beyond the po faced kitchen staff (well done), here's a wee challenge for you : try not to use the word 'Honour'. That seems to be the magic word to officiate a Chinese person's voice onscreen. We are simply Chinese, not born High Court judges.
Also theatre producers take note. Updated racial inclusion doesn't stop at hiring a brown guy to play Aladdin. Kindly save the stringy moustache and yellow faced paint for the museum instead of chucking them on an allegedly Chinese character. Hiring an actual Chinese actor will also save your make up artist from running out of eyeliner through dodgy attempts to emulate the monolid.
Chinese people and the English language
My English is good? By jove, so is yours.
Yes the British accent is real. Somehow when you are a person who is born and raised in UK, you tend to speak English and not Engrish. Here's a shocking secret for you-some of us even speak Cockney. Therefore that compliment on our English? Not flattering. Your Mandarin on the other hand..
Racists are a confused bunch.
'Why don't you Chinese speak up more often if you're not happy with how you're being treated?'
'If you Chinese don't like the way things are, go back to China'.
Make up your fucking mind.
Not all of us know martial arts. Otherwise you really wouldn't be asking such silly questions on whether we all know martial arts.
Despite oodles of inspirational talent, not all of us aspire to be Bruce Lee. Save that funny high pitched wail for telling off your cat when it shits on your doorstep.
It is NOT okay to go to the middle of Chinatown and tug the corners of your eyes and pull your face into a buck toothed gurn for a selfie. It's the same level as exaggerated Bobbleheads in Southall, fake Patois accents in Brixton and compulsory shellsuit wearing in Liverpool. All.Wrong.
And no, you can't have a discount. Bargaining is our speciality and ours alone.
Personalities and getting to know us
Believe it or not, our personalities go beyond 'exotic, foreign and mystifying'. Here's a tip for all you work place coaches, teachers and potential dates. ASK US ABOUT OUR INTERESTS. It's not all about 'life at back home' and revising mathematical equations while doing manicures.
And when a Chinese person tells you they're from Hackney/Salford/Chelsea or whatever British town - it's where they actually are from. Phrases like 'before that' or 'no, no, no - where are you really from' are a condescending way of dictating someone's identity. You may aswell call a Spurs fan an Arsenal supporter just because they both love football. We live in a diverse world, people. If you want stories of far and exotic places you've never been to, go and book a holiday.
Happy New Year of the pooch!