Brandon, whom we approached in a Korean grocery store, shares in this short segment insight about his complex family cultures and relationship with his parents.
Samantha: So why don't you tell us a bit about your cultural background, and I'm guessing your parents were the ones who immigrated here, right?
Brandon: So, my dad is from Southern China and my mom is from Malaysia. And they both immigrated here, my mom came as a teenager, and my dad came when he was a young adult. My mom was raised in New York, and they met there. So I'm Chinese-American, yeah. I was raised in New Jersey, by the way. I was raised in South Jersey, and down there it's more White. I was surrounded by some Asian people, but mostly White and Hispanic people, so that's pretty much my cultural background, I guess you could say.
Samantha: Did you ever feel like it was difficult for you to accept yourself, or did you ever have a struggle with your heritage?
Brandon: For me, personally—I know a lot of kids had struggles, but for me I always found myself around other Asian kids and I mostly hung out with Asian kids. So it wasn't too strange for me, I didn't really reject my culture or like, reject my identity as a child growing up. But I did have like, the usual being made fun of for your lunch, and that kind of typical experience. But besides that, there wasn't really anything. I did reject my Chinese heritage as a child, like, in middle school, I was a weeaboo. I loved Japanese culture, anime, all that stuff. So I was kind of ashamed being Chinese growing up. But as I've grown older, I've kind of started appreciating like, my culture a lot more.
Samantha: That's so cool. Also, I went through an awful weeaboo phase too, so I think that's all of us. Was there any specific stereotype that either today, or even back then really bothered you?
Brandon: I think like the usual "Asians eat dogs", and like, "Asians are cheap, Asians are bad drivers." I think that's the usual stereotype that I've dealt with, but it just gets old, you just get tired of it. It's not really offensive anymore.
Serena: You said your mom immigrated here when she was younger, right? So, you know when people talk about like the stereotypical Asian tiger mom?
Serena: Do you get that from her or is it different because she's been in the U.S. longer?
Brandon: So I would say that my mom was a tiger mom, she was really strict about like, grades when I was growing up. But I feel like she kind of just falls into that category. She's not super tiger mom, but she just has that typical... I feel like that's just really common for immigrants in general, besides Asian moms. It's just common for immigrants to be like, forceful on grades and stuff for their kids.
Samantha: And in general, do you think there's any kind of generational divide between you and your parents, or any values that don't really get along?
Brandon: Definitely. Like, that's something I've noticed in the past few years. Like my parents value, like, a lot of different things, and for me it just doesn't really matter. Because I've been raised American, and I have a very American mindset. Where it's like, some thing that they value, like how you arrange your furniture in your room, it doesn't really bother me, but it's very important to them. And yeah, I guess just like general beliefs and values and stuff are pretty different between me and my parents.