As a multi-cultural American, how do YOU stay rooted?

1,242
10
Joined Jun 17, 2008
I am a first generation Chinese-American guy and I've wondered about this question for awhile. Growing up, I was always told that America's this greatmelting pot of cultures and, as I've grown older, this doesn't seem like such a great thing. While there are many different cultures that reside herein the states, it seems that with time, people seem to lose what little connection they had to their parent's cultures. It's disheartening to thinkthat one has to make a conscious effort, here in America, to stay connected to our roots.

For example, my best friend is a third generation Chinese-American guy and he can hardly speak any Chinese. His dad can't either. He does make a consciouseffort though to try to find out more about his cultural background and stuff like that. A more extreme example would be this other first generationChinese-American friend I have. She grew up in Dublin, CA, where the population is largely white Americans. She has absolutely zero ties to any of her parentsculture. She can't speak Chinese, can't use chopsticks, has no idea what part of China her parents are from, has almost no Asian friends (what doesthat say about me?
), and, to me, the worst thing is she doesn'tcare at all. While my best friend makes a conscious effort to try to maintain some sort of connection, this other friend of mine is completely content, andactually prefers, blending in with the rest of white America.

As for me, I was lucky enough to grow up in a household that promoted being bilingual. While my parents could speak English with ease, they used Chinese withme while at home. I grew up eating traditional Chinese food, as well as American foods. While we celebrated American holidays like Thanksgiving, we alsocelebrated the traditional Chinese holidays like Chinese New Years, the Moon Festival, etc. We also took trips back to China so I could see what the fatherlandis like
.

So for my fellow multi-cultural members, what do you do to stay connected to your parent's culture? I know there's something deeper than just being"white", "black", "brown", "Asian", etc.
 
790
20
Joined Oct 30, 2005
Great topic although rather serious for the general NT bunch...

But this is my feedback to you...

I thought/think about this myself from time to time... I'm Latino born in DC (to Salvadorian parents who by the way are US Citizens and bilingual) andfurthermore my wife is black (from Maryland, I say that to add that she isn't from another country, where it would only add to our"multi-cultural" confusion)...

Sooooooo what I do and what I plan to do...

*-Language - Continue to speak Spanish (at home, around family, to other Latinos) and when I have kids I will speakSpanish to them too (specially in the house), they can learn English in school!
-Food - Continue to cook and eat our "culture food" (pupusa, tortilla, our sazon, ese pollo guesado con arrozand so forth)... wifey loves it too, so she's even cooks it too (yes, yo tengo una fine morena que hace tortillas). Also, always seek out the bestauthentic restaurants in the area to visit too.
-Music - I love hip-hop (not the stuff on mainstream radio now) but you know... BUT STILL, I LOVE my Salsa too!!!SOooooo I got to keep it on rotation, my kids will be fortunate enough (so I hope) to listen to Jay-Z mixed with a little Hector Lavoe followed by some MilesDavis, then some Alicia Keys then some Aventura and so on all while they doing chores around the hosue!
Sshhh might even throw on some Vicente causethat's what my mom listen to and it's stuff I don't like but beat into my head like the Stanky Leg.
*-"Homeland" - Continue to visit my folks country as often as I can... as a kid I would go every summer, itopen my eyes to the world, made me appreciate what I have, sooo much can be learn from traveling - specially to a country like ES... so I plan to continue thiswith my kids too (when I have some)
*-Communication - Aight, my moms makes the effort to call and stay in contact with her mother back in ES, her sisters,and so on... NOW, I plan and hope to do the same down the road with my generation of kids down there - like my cousins and there kids... although for me itwill be tougher because unlike my mother the bond isn't as strong but the fact I would at least see them once a year, it's helped
*-Culture - Being in an interracial marriage it takes some understanding and hummm... what's the word... can'tthink of it but it's important we continue to do as DL stated celebrated the US holidays and traditions while still remembering to do some of the thingsfrom our culture too.

One of the things for me living in PG County MD it's tough not to stay rooted with such a large Latino population and only growing, my kids would looklike... if they look Latino and couldn't speak it! Wouldn't be there fault, it would be mines, so it's my job to teach them.

I don't think people understand the importance of knowing your roots... I think it's sad that I know more about my dogs family tree then mines and formy wife well she can only go back maybe 2 generations... eff'd up!

Astrid indicating in my opinion the most important to stay rooted!
 
2,702
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Joined May 3, 2007
most boricuas I know can't even speak spanish and their parents were born there. they still love to wave that damn flag around though.
 
1,242
10
Joined Jun 17, 2008
Originally Posted by J PayCheck

Great topic although rather serious for the general NT bunch...

But this is my feedback to you...

I thought/think about this myself from time to time... I'm Latino born in DC (to Salvadorian parents who by the way are US Citizens and bilingual) and furthermore my wife is black (from Maryland, I say that to add that she isn't from another country, where it would only add to our "multi-cultural" confusion)...

Sooooooo what I do and what I plan to do...

*-Language - Continue to speak Spanish (at home, around family, to other Latinos) and when I have kids I will speak Spanish to them too (specially in the house), they can learn English in school!
-Food - Continue to cook and eat our "culture food" (pupusa, tortilla, our sazon, ese pollo guesado con arroz and so forth)... wifey loves it too, so she's even cooks it too (yes, yo tengo una fine morena que hace tortillas). Also, always seek out the best authentic restaurants in the area to visit too.
-Music - I love hip-hop (not the stuff on mainstream radio now) but you know... BUT STILL, I LOVE my Salsa too!!! SOooooo I got to keep it on rotation, my kids will be fortunate enough (so I hope) to listen to Jay-Z mixed with a little Hector Lavoe followed by some Miles Davis, then some Alicia Keys then some Aventura and so on all while they doing chores around the hosue!
Sshhh might even throw on some Vicente cause that's what my mom listen to and it's stuff I don't like but beat into my head like the Stanky Leg.
*-"Homeland" - Continue to visit my folks country as often as I can... as a kid I would go every summer, it open my eyes to the world, made me appreciate what I have, sooo much can be learn from traveling - specially to a country like ES... so I plan to continue this with my kids too (when I have some)
*-Communication - Aight, my moms makes the effort to call and stay in contact with her mother back in ES, her sisters, and so on... NOW, I plan and hope to do the same down the road with my generation of kids down there - like my cousins and there kids... although for me it will be tougher because unlike my mother the bond isn't as strong but the fact I would at least see them once a year, it's helped
*-Culture - Being in an interracial marriage it takes some understanding and hummm... what's the word... can't think of it but it's important we continue to do as DL stated celebrated the US holidays and traditions while still remembering to do some of the things from our culture too.

One of the things for me living in PG County MD it's tough not to stay rooted with such a large Latino population and only growing, my kids would look like... if they look Latino and couldn't speak it! Wouldn't be there fault, it would be mines, so it's my job to teach them.

I don't think people understand the importance of knowing your roots... I think it's sad that I know more about my dogs family tree then mines and for my wife well she can only go back maybe 2 generations... eff'd up!

Astrid indicating in my opinion the most important to stay rooted!
Hey man, yeah this topic is kind of heavier than what's normal on here


I didn't even touch on the whole raising kids issue because, frankly, I'm only 19 and that thought isn't even on my radar yet. Now that I thinkabout it though, it scares the hell out of me. I feel like I'm going to have a huge responsibility in making sure that my kid has some sort of connectionto their cultural background. Like, currently, I can speak/understand Chinese but I can't even really read it, let alone teach it to someone else. I can doall the other things like preserve our food, music, taking them to travel, etc.. It's just the language part I feel may become lost down the road and thatis really scary to me. I think I might have to rely heavily on my own parents or grandparents if, god willing, they're still alive when I do have my ownchild. But even so... Down the road, what happens?


Thanks for the feedback though man! Sounds like you have a really good idea on what needs to be done.
 
907
10
Joined Apr 4, 2008
same boat

i'm a second generation American. my parents are Somali (pirates FTL). i try to speak the language and engage in culture but sometimes its hard

right now i'm focusing on my Islamic culture more though. im learning Arabic, dressing more "muslim", etc
 
300
10
Joined Apr 2, 2009
Got friends like you. 2 came to mind when I read thread, and they speak perfect english (almost) and are wayAmericanized yet celebrate all their traditional holidays as to "stay rooted"



I'm black if that matters
 

joshhassolex

Banned
1,780
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Joined Nov 22, 2007
food-i constantly eat Jamaican food, curry chicken, patties, jerk chicken, etc. also being half Black American, i tend to eat soul food on sundays.
language-well i talk Patois with my Jamaican friends.
homeland-i haven't been there in a while, but i used to go every summer, i plan on going back very soon. last time I went to my mom's hometown was forthanksgiving.
music-well i love dancehall and reggae, a lot of days i tend to jam to more dancehall or reggae then hip hop. But i also listen to hip hop, r&b, soul,jazz.
also i always rep Jamaica and being Black American, so i never forget my roots.
 
7,979
1,453
Joined Jun 28, 2008
Reach back to the community, learn more about your own culture, and try to soak up whatever you can get, and try implementing it down to your kids.
Hopefully they will pass it down to further generations like you did.

Its tough my man..
 
790
20
Joined Oct 30, 2005
LOL ^I appreciate your honest answer B. I love my country (the US OF A!!!) as much as the next (north) American too!!! But the truth we don't have no(real) culture, at least none that is original... it all derived from somewhere else - like an all you can eat buffet, a little of this, a little of that, mixwith a little of that over there too.

I'm sure some might argue and say well, we got Thanksgiving, Baseball, Apple Pie LOL... but for real...


Not to offend anyone but I'm sure most know where I'm coming from. We also got big fish eat small fish, obesity, TMZ... jeez just said what you said ina different way.
 
1,518
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Joined Aug 4, 2008
Originally Posted by joshhassolex

food-i constantly eat Jamaican food, curry chicken, patties, jerk chicken, etc. also being half Black American, i tend to eat soul food on sundays.
language-well i talk Patois with my Jamaican friends.
homeland-i haven't been there in a while, but i used to go every summer, i plan on going back very soon. last time I went to my mom's hometown was for thanksgiving.
music-well i love dancehall and reggae, a lot of days i tend to jam to more dancehall or reggae then hip hop. But i also listen to hip hop, r&b, soul, jazz.
also i always rep Jamaica and being Black American, so i never forget my roots.
My dad is Trinidadian and my mom was Jamaican so i do everything you do. We tend to stay away from soul food as a family but i love it so i sneakit in when i can

I went back to trinidad in summer 07 and will be there this summer but i wont stay as long due to work
i can speak patois but i sound like an american speaking patois...anyone from the islands can tell im an american
and anytime im in my car its a mix of reggae soca and whatever else i feel like blasting. my music choice is eclectic
i love both islands
 
3,200
10
Joined Mar 16, 2008
Originally Posted by J PayCheck

LOL ^I appreciate your honest answer B. I love my country (the US OF A!!!) as much as the next (north) American too!!! But the truth we don't have no (real) culture, at least none that is original... it all derived from somewhere else - like an all you can eat buffet, a little of this, a little of that, mix with a little of that over there too.

I'm sure some might argue and say well, we got Thanksgiving, Baseball, Apple Pie LOL... but for real...


Not to offend anyone but I'm sure most know where I'm coming from. We also got big fish eat small fish, obesity, TMZ... jeez just said what you said in a different way.

sadly that's all some of us know for whatever reason...slavery...the need to assimilate...etc...
i truly am jealous of people who do have that other culture to be a part of...
 
3,108
12
Joined May 4, 2008
On standardized tests and legal paperwork, I don't put a race down. If there is not an "Other" option, I just the box asking for my raceblank.

I practice and speak Spanish with my Latino family members daily, and work overtime to stay abreast of politics in Latin America and the Carribean.

As far as my African-American side, I work equally as hard to stay informed and educated on current events. I try to learn as much from older members of mycommunity about the past as I can.
 
3,546
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Joined Dec 26, 2004
My advice would be not to overcompensate. Just know where you came from and respect practices when suitable. Just as an example, a white person who has alwaysthought of his bloodline to 100% European shouldn't suddenly start rockin' coolie hats because he happens to discover that he's 1/16th Japanese.But it's cool that you're able to trace your roots. As a Black man, I envy you.
 

joshhassolex

Banned
1,780
10
Joined Nov 22, 2007
Originally Posted by Thugnificence

Originally Posted by joshhassolex

food-i constantly eat Jamaican food, curry chicken, patties, jerk chicken, etc. also being half Black American, i tend to eat soul food on sundays.
language-well i talk Patois with my Jamaican friends.
homeland-i haven't been there in a while, but i used to go every summer, i plan on going back very soon. last time I went to my mom's hometown was for thanksgiving.
music-well i love dancehall and reggae, a lot of days i tend to jam to more dancehall or reggae then hip hop. But i also listen to hip hop, r&b, soul, jazz.
also i always rep Jamaica and being Black American, so i never forget my roots.
My dad is Trinidadian and my mom was Jamaican so i do everything you do. We tend to stay away from soul food as a family but i love it so i sneak it in when i can

I went back to trinidad in summer 07 and will be there this summer but i wont stay as long due to work
i can speak patois but i sound like an american speaking patois...anyone from the islands can tell im an american
and anytime im in my car its a mix of reggae soca and whatever else i feel like blasting. my music choice is eclectic
i love both islands

i kinda feel you on that one, like i used to have the accent
but i lost it, but whenever i speak patois, it tends to come out
but i never got into soca.....is it really good?
 

springfieldxd

Banned
2,575
11
Joined Oct 29, 2008
i go by my auntie's house out in the country, go fishing at the lake, bring the fish home, clean them, cook some greens, sweet potatoes, and cornbread, fryup the fish, eat good, smoke good, and sit on the front porch talking about nothing, drinking OE and smoking newports and blunts for 6 hours straight wit myshirt off.

mabye some spades and dominoes if we got some old heads in the spot...
 
1,224
40
Joined Mar 27, 2003
I didn't quite understand what it meant to be American until I lived abroad. Although I am Japanese and Italian. I've learned that I can't reallyconsider myself "Japanese" or "Italian." Plainly, I'm just an American, like all other Americans. I am not from Japan or Italy, andalthough I have strong family ties in both country. I am from neither and can't really claim that I am from either.

I understand America as a melting pot in a positive light. Not in the sense that we all represent other countries/cultures, but in the sense we are allforeigners here that have come here to be Americans. (Aside from the small % of native americans)

When my Japanese side of my family was interned during WW II. All Japanese had to give up their Japanese citizenship. While also not having an AmericanCitizenship because of the war. They were left without a country. My grandfather decided to fight on the American side and ended up fight for the mostdecorated unit in US Army History. It's hard to believe it was a Japanese-American unit who weren't even rightful citizens according to the USgovernment. To think that I am "Japanese" after all that my family went through would almost be contradictory.

So while I don't see myself as anything but 100% American. I do say culturally rooted in both sides of my family. I grew up practicing Buddhism which tiesin heavily to much of Japan's traditions/culture. I also made a point of learning where my family came from. Both where their journey started (visit therespective countries/towns they are from) and where their entered into America. I went and found my where my great grandfather had entered into NYC @ EllisIsland. The same for San Francisco @ Angel Island.

I've found talking/interviewing older family is the best way of learning about the cultures you represent. You get to hear stories that their struggles andhow they shaped what you've become. To my grandfather who grew up in a Jewish ghetto in NYC during the 1930's playing stickball, to my Japanesegrandfather who came to America to be a botanist.

So how do I keep in touch? Learn about my family and keep their experiences alive. Follow the traditions they have bestowed before me and not forget theirstruggles.
 
698
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Joined Oct 9, 2005
OP, I'm pretty much on the same boat as your friend...

4th generation Chinese, out of the 5 in my family only my mom can actually speak. At our family get togethers with cousins and relatives and stuff no onespeaks Chinese because everyone was born/raised in Cali. Living in the Bay Area does kind of helps me experience Chinese/Asian culture in general though sincethere are so many Asians here lol.

I did though get to go visit China on a Chinese/American cultural exchange type thing with a bunch of friends it was one of the coolest experiences I'vehad.
 
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