Yes, I am Chinese. But I’m Also Not Interested.

You know what bugs me the most when I’m on the subway?

When there are a bunch of seats on the train and that one person decides to sit next to you when you’re trying to listen to music in peace.

Usually I would just brush this off because this person didn’t do anything wrong. But when they start asking you questions and won’t stop talking to you while you’re clearly not interested, this IS a problem.

Now hear me out ladies and gents. I love meeting people and having random conversations. After all, I AM a journalism student.

But when you bring my race and ethnicity into the mix, then here’s how it can become problematic.

I know that Canada is considered a mosaic and a lover of all things culture. I get this and I embrace it. But whenever people try and generate a conversation with, “Are you Chinese or Korean?” followed by a “Ni Hao”, here’s the part where I start to roll my eyes because it’s getting pretty annoying.

I guess that this man was trying to be nice, but I was in no way looking to have a conversation with him. I engaged with him a little, telling him that I don’t speak Mandarin.

But since I am Asian, this man thought he could talk to me about all things Asian/Chinese (because that’s apparently what I would be interested in right?!).

He started mentioning about the car system in China and how cheap it was. Then he started rambling on about dim sum.  He actually spoke a lot about dim sum.  And then he said something about Chinatown.  He basically kept talking to me about Chinese things like it was the only thing that would interest me.  In fact, he was starting to creep me out a bit.

I had no idea what to do. Could I have just leave my seat? Could I have just continued listening to music? I just didn’t know what to do.

I’m not sure why I was so offended at the time. I suppose it was a mix of hoping this man would get the hint that I was not interested or the fact that he was just using my ethnicity to generate a conversation with me.

Perhaps I am thinking too much into this, but is it wrong for me to get annoyed when people try to break the ice with me through asking whether I speak Chinese? Is that all you can think of when you see me?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being Chinese and have learned to appreciate my culture throughout the years.  But the fact that people just associate me with being “Asian” as a first impression is kind of off-putting to me.

Yes, I am Chinese but that is not my defining feature. We are not some unknown mysterious species that you MUST know more of. If you do want to get to know me, maybe try something more interesting to talk about.

But if you must ask me what my background is, AT LEAST don’t ask me in a creepy way like this man did.


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