identity crises

Hong Kong was a colony of Great Britain until July 1st, 1997, when it was handed back to China. My point? I’m 19 and have lived pretty much all my life in a post colonial country. Why is this post titled “identity crises”? Because even though Hong Kong is considered to belong to China, Hong Kong is not China. Sure, we have the same customs and traditions and most of our culture is the same but it’s just different. Same same but different. This, I feel, ties in with Black Skin, White Masks because the idea of races is applicable to Hong Kong people’s rejection of the idea of being a part of China, or at least from China.

The distinction Fanon made between races such that people begin to distance themselves from subordinate races (black) and create connections with the dominant race (white) is a rather interesting idea: “because the Antillean is more ‘évolué’ than the African––meaning he is closer to the white man” (9). I believe this applies to Hong Kong people too; because we have been colonized by the British and have been under the influence of the British, we are closer to the “white man” as opposed to our other chinese counterparts.

Post-colonial times for a country means reconstructing a whole society, or even an entire culture and figuring out how it operates. Hong Kong obviously went back to its Chinese roots, but has become more… sophisticated, I guess I could say. In Hong Kong, the act of squatting is mainly looked down upon. This is because this act is associated with the mainland Chinese and is a behaviour separating Hong Kong people from mainland Chinese. This is significant in that it clearly demonstrates the “évolué” Fanon talks about; Hong Kong people do not squat on the sidewalks because it is not the civilized thing to do.

But then I arrive at the dilemma that I am also Chinese, and insulting my own race is not a very nice thing to do––the Antillean and the African. Identity crisis ––> I am Chinese, but I’m not Chinese Chinese, I’m Hong Kong Chinese. I’m also Canadian.

Now the word ‘Chinese’ looks weird to me because I’ve typed it too much.

Read 2 comments

  1. Very nice, thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I didn’t realize that these ideas could be linked to Hong Kong in this way, so thanks for pointing that out. I can completely see the identity crises you’re talking about from your post, and the difficulties it could run you into to think that those in HK may consider themselves more “civilized” or even “white” than mainland Chinese. I wonder how Antilleans responded to Fanon’s text when he said that they consider themselves more white than Africans. It was over 50 years ago, though, so they may not have reacted the same way one might react today realizing that one values “whiteness.” I really don’t know. But it’s important to recognize where such values may exist, even if we don’t want to recognize them (and I’m not so naive to think that I’m entirely unsusceptible to them, no matter how much I consciously and fervently believe that race or ethnicity do not matter).

  2. Hong Kong’s a good example, and I find what you have to say about it interesting. I wonder if we’d call Canada a postcolonial country, too? I suspect that it is in some ways, but not in others (and perhaps that it was postcolonial in different ways in the 1950s, say). And also that it depends on your perspective: the First Nations and Quebecois may have something to say about that.

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