Mosaic Community Essays

"For a culture to be palatable, it may often exist as stereotypes."

For a culture to be palatable, it may often exist as stereotypes. For a conversation about culture to continue, it cannot remain that way.

Recently, I stopped and pondered the image of my own ‘motherland’ I had constructed in America. I have built a cross-cultural identity backdropped against formidable city skylines and refurbished with a glossy history.

I proudly recount escapades from my upbringing in Shanghai; I take pride in my familiarity with Tang dynasty literature. I understand my role now as an ambassador of Chinese culture: a title that I did not invite upon myself, but was automatically bestowed upon me.

I take upon this role with pride, but I also realize that at times, I flaunt not just my culture but also my “otherness”; it embellishes my identity with uniqueness, but in the process of doing so, I run the risk of bundling complex, nuanced aspects of my identity into more flavorful, digestible tropes: cheap blue and white chinaware, bamboo chopsticks engraved with Chinese print, fabric shoes embroidered with dragons and phoenixes.

—Ally Zhu
Chinese
Rhode Island
Patrick May

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