Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

I felt compelled to respond to an article, The hidden minority, which appeared in Sunday's Taipei Times.

In his article, Mr. Momphard defined “The hidden minority”, as those born in Taiwan, but raised in the United States, or born in the United States to Taiwanese parents. He continues by committing a common misnomer by referring to them as “American Born Chinese” or ABC. I find it puzzling that these overseas Taiwanese are so often called ABCs. Shouldn’t they more aptly be called American Born Taiwanese or ABTs? It is a simple label that clearly denotes one’s country of origin. Many Taiwanese or overseas Taiwanese still use the terms Chinese and Taiwanese interchangeably because of the confusion between national and ethnic identity. Or perhaps the lines have been blurred by mixed marriages.

As someone born in the United States of America to Taiwanese parents, I proudly identify myself as a Taiwanese American, not a Chinese American. My parents were not raised in China, nor do they reside in China.

Mr. Momphard’s depiction of “the hidden minority” in Taiwan proliferates the stereotypes of Taiwanese born and raised overseas as spoiled, rich kids. It is unfair to categorize a group along narrow characteristics. There are many deeply personal reasons that ABTs have chosen to return to Taiwan- which Mr. Momphard alludes to, but does not delve into.

Though Mr. Momphard didn’t report on any major discrimination experienced by the hidden minority, there is discrimination, in subtle forms: when one is chided for speaking Mandarin Chinese or Holo Taiwanese with a funny accent or constantly questioned as to why can’t they speak Chinese as flawlessly as any native Taiwanese person. Discrimination occurs when members of the hidden minority, who are native English speakers in their own right, are paid less per hour for teaching English than other visually obvious foreigners, and discrimination occurs when Taiwanese employers refuse to apply for work permits for the hidden minority; employers expect ABTs to have an ROC ID which entitles them to work in Taiwan, but other foreign educated English speakers would most likely not meet such resistance from potential employers. Certainly ABTs might be able to score the top jobs due to their foreign education and strong grasp of Chinese language skills, but their experiences are not without hidden discrimination.


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