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In his essay “I’m a Banana and Proud of It” (from The Globe and Mail); Wayson Choy explains the reason why he is called a “banana”. Choy begins by expressing his love to his North American citizenship. He mentions that banana means “yellow on the outside and white inside” (365). In other words, Chinese born in North America behave and act like white people but still look like Asians. Regardless of this nickname Choy believe that it is “not a racist term”9366).
Likewise, Choy comments that other cultures earn also their own nicknames such as Indians as “apples” and blacks as “Oreo cookies”. As Choy explains what “banana “means, he tells the history of how his parents settled to the BC coast from China.
Choy reveals the painful experiences his parents endured when they arrived in North America. Choy’s parents suffered racial bias from North Americans. Moreover, they could not apply for citizenship because of the “Chinese Exclusion laws” (365)”. Choy also acknowledges how Chinese people risked their lives during the Second World War, by joining the army.
After the war ended, Chinese gained the right to be a North American citizen. Choy also considers the point of view of Chinatown elders about the young Chinese generations who “assimilated so well into North American life” (366). Chinese parents encouraged their kids to go to post-secondary education to have a successful future, but also reminded the young generation to not forget their Chinese roots.
Choy claims that they will never forget their Chinese roots because as they look into the mirror it always reflects.
Furthermore, youth of Chinatown are criticized for their lack of knowledge and understanding of “Old China traditions” (367). Choy also points out how brainwashed they are by the North American lifestyle. Although it is true that he is a banana, Choy realized that he does not belong in either world. Therefore, he tries to find the foundation of his Chinese roots. And his search for his identity led him to write “The Jade Peony”, which emphasizes his “struggle between being Chinese and being North American” (637) and discovers that it is a universal feeling. As a result, Choy finds out that people are the same wherever they come from, they are all driven by same principles which is “security and happiness”(367). And finally, Choy fully accepted being a “banana” and is proud of being Chinese.
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