Banana Split

The regret of rejecting your mother tongue in your formative years;
The treacherous path through beauty standards that exclude you;
The pain of forever being seen as a foreigner in your own home.

These are vignettes of growing up second-generation Asian in a Western country.

Yellow on the outside, white on the inside

The term “banana” refers to an Asian person who has lost touch with the culture of their parents. It’s a bit of slang that I particularly hate. It’s usually used as an insult and, sometimes, as a compliment, but in both situations it implies that the person is “acting white.” It implies that you are consciously shaping your personality and beliefs to fit into another culture; that no matter what you do, you’ll always be hiding something. It implies that somehow by the mere act of existing, you are inauthentic.

Too Asian to be white, too whitewashed to be Asian

I wish it were enough to just be, without being constantly questioned and judged for not neatly conforming with a culture. After a while, you start questioning yourself: Is this really who I am? Or am I just trying to fit in? Indeed, many of us are conflicted about our Asian identity and go through a period of avoiding our Asianness in order to navigate the world. In recent years, I’ve realised that it’s possible to cherish what my parents have given me while living in a different culture. I’m sure it will be a lifelong journey (oh how I wish 10 year old me gave a single crap about Saturday Chinese school).

Yellow on the outside, guts on the inside

I hope we can one day stop measuring people by arbitrary standards based on skin colour. Cliche as it is, the similarities between us far outweigh the differences that divide us. I want to live in a world where we truly recognise that appearances are superficial and that what actually matters is on the inside—

And on the inside, we’re all just a big ol’ pile of organs.

About the author
Zoe Hu is a graphic designer born in China, raised in Auckland and now based in Melbourne. Follow her work on Instagram.