The Other Day I Wrote a Letter
I don't talk much about Taiwan or being Taiwanese in my act. It is not because I don't want to, or don't remember, but it is because it's difficult. They say the equation for comedy is tragedy plus time. Well, at this point, as it stands, I am, or we, as a people, are still at tragedy level.
Before you ask me how that is possible, let me tell you a story.
The other day I wrote a letter. It was a letter in response to a "Cultural Competency Training" I have enrolled myself in for a particular agency, which shall remain anonymous for the integrity of the organization. The letter, titled "Cultural Sensitivity within the Cultural Competency Training", was addressed to the facilitator of the training, whom shall also remain anonymous, and it is as follows:
Hi Ms. X,
Hope all is well with you in the new year. I am excited both to have the opportunity to expand my cultural knowledge and be part of a training that acknowledges the importance of cultural competency within __________.
As I worked through the introduction portion of the training, which provides the rationale for cultural competency and understanding, I came across an interesting phenomenon in the profile selection of the training. Under the section of Demographic Information of "Your Ancestry", there listed choices of many East Asian ancestries such as Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. However, disappointingly, the selection of "Taiwanese" is absent from the selections.
This phenomenon is not exclusive to the demographic survey of this training. This has been an ongoing struggle for people of Taiwanese decent, like myself, in many nations. Many Taiwanese people are forced to identify themselves as "Chinese" due to the stigma of being identified as "other". This has been a huge controversy in the recent US census and generated a significant movement:
Importance of categorized as Taiwanese: http://www.taiwandc.org/twcom/65-no6.htm
As Kristie Wang, Program Director Center for Taiwan International Relations, have indicated in the address above:
"We must realize that if we do not make the distinction between Taiwanese and Chinese, then nobody will do it for us. To take it another step further, if you don't determine your own identity, then it will be imposed upon you, as Taiwan's history has demonstrated time and time again. Our parents and ancestors did not have a choice in determining their identities, and they were beaten, jailed, blacklisted, and killed for trying -- because they wanted to ensure that we would have this choice. Today Taiwanese all over the world have the opportunity for the first time in our tragic history to write our own page".
I understand the survey selection in this training, or other surveys may seem insignificant to many. It may even be viewed as a rather miniscule item. However, the ongoing Chinese colonization of Taiwan and genocide of Taiwanese culture is part of my history, my family's history, and my people's history. This pain is present to this very day in our theater, music, and art as we struggle to find recognition not only as a sovereign nation, but as a cultural identity under Chinese oppression. It is the reason why my family immigrated to Canada in 1994, as the threat and terror of Chinese invasion was ringing loud in my young ears as the air raid alarms sounded night after night, reminding us that the bombs will be raining down on our soil any moment.
The purpose of this note is not to chastise or place blame on this training, as I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to learn and grow in a multicultural organization. I hope this note helps to inform _____________ of the significance and need for people from Taiwan be identified as Taiwanese, and not Chinese (I have identified myself as "other" in this training). On behalf of the Taiwanese community, I thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope this opens doors for future changes.
The other day I wrote a letter about my people. Hopefully one day, I can write a joke and laugh about it.