I have been wondering about the root of culture for a long time. I used to think that it comes from our blood, our kinship, our forefathers. These few days when I was looking at the pictures of Chinese earthquake, and I suddenly realized that it actually comes from our home, the place where we were born and grew up.
Why do the second generation of diasporas always face with the perplexity of identity confusion? They were told by parents or grandparents that they shouldn’t forget their kinship, though they were cut off from it for a long time or have little direct experience of it. They have more emotional attachment with their diaspora culture, though they are more often treated as outsiders by it. This diaspora culture has bred them, educated them, and deeply rooted in them. That kinship culture is something they know they should adhere to, but it stays as a duty to accomplish, a shame if losing it. However, the culture they were born and grew up in is something they will never let go, and will always come back to collect no matter how long and how far they have been away from it. That’s why so many elderly always dream of and really go back to their hometown, where their mothers lived, where their culture was cultivated.
Culture is home, where we always go back for mum’s love, where playmates had been chasing us, where we can always find the most delicious food in the world, where we got our first A, where we had been so eager to leave when we grew up, and then always dream to return. That becomes my culture.
So my culture is different from my grandparents, who left their kinship country and migrated to a new land but still sticked to their original culture. My culture is different from my parents who were born on the new land but grew up in the struggles of their parents’ kinship culture and their own adaption to the new culture. I was born on the new land which has somehow accepted my group of people and in the new culture which my parents have more or less adapted to. This is the culture of the second generation of diaspora. It’s not a shame if I have replaced some of my kinship culture with the new ones, just like replacing the language. It’s not a shame if I hesitate to answer which is my culture. It’s not a shame if I feel more painful when my hometown or home country is suffering from disasters. It’s not a shame when I am more ready to protect it from any criticism.
Because it is my home, it is my culture. Good or bad, I am from it.