Why is May important? Well, it is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US and Asian Heritage Month in Canada.
And why is Asian Heritage Month important? Because it provides a space for us to learn cultural history and celebrate our identity.
Watch Double Happiness (1994) this weekend to celebrate May!
The film is about Jade Li, a Chinese Canadian young woman, who tries to break away from her family’s traditional values and make a new life for herself.
Jade aspires to be an actress. However, her strict father is against her pursuit of an acting career. Because of his demands, she instead works a stable job at a shop owned by a family friend.
Throughout the movie, Jade tries to find “double happiness” - to make both her Chinese parents happy and achieve her own goals.
But as time passes, her parents’ ignorance towards her dreams and their attempts to control her life pushes their perfect Chinese daughter to run away from the traditional Chinese home.
The film brings up many Chinese Canadian identity issues. As Jade auditions for roles, her identity is questioned by the director because she can speak but not read Cantonese.
She is also punished and guilt-tripped for not having the same values as other Chinese people.
It is not surprising that Asian kids who grow up in Western society want to fit in and in turn, reject the Asian parts of them.
But, fortunately, I have heard many stories of Chinese Canadians reconnecting with their ethnic identity and learning about their history later in life, even after rejecting it in their young age.
In the film, Jade answered “yes” when asked if she is Chinese. But she desires to escape the constraint of Chinese traditional values in her household. We see that there is a space for “Western Jade” in her heart.
Running away from home is not rejecting her Chinese identity, but trying to find balance between both of her identities.
The amazing part of being Chinese Canadian is that people can draw from their multicultural experiences.
It is not a bad thing to be different from others.
Because of her experiences and her understanding of the values of both cultures, Jade can achieve what people from only one of the cultures cannot.
Acknowledge and celebrate your Asian roots. Be the one to make a difference WITH your Asian identity.