I enjoy eating bananas. They are fantastic in Kale smoothies and sandwiched in between three mounds of ice cream. However, being called a “banana” is something that I have always found unpalatable. Like many of my friends that are born and raised in this wonderful City of Vancouver, I have been called a banana countless times and I’ve personally always struggled to accept this fruity label.

Being a North America born Chinese seems to gives people the perception that I am “yellow” on the outside and “white” on the inside, hence the label “banana”. I suppose I am “yellow” on the outside but what does it mean when people say I’m “white” on the inside? Yes, I speak English, I consume English language media, I eat meat and potatoes, and even hamburgers too. Hockey and football are my favourite sports. I love North American muscle cars. I can relate to everything Western culture throws at me.

But am I really “white” on the inside? I honestly do not feel this way or share this same thought that others have labeled me so.

Like most North American Chinese kids, I had a split upbringing in that I was exposed to both the Chinese and Western culture. Everyday at home, I conversed with my parents in Chinese, ate mostly Chinese food and celebrated all the Chinese holidays and customs. But outside of the home, I lived a very Western lifestyle with regular school, played with both Chinese and non-Chinese friends, spoke only English and was exposed to Western pop culture. I am aware of many of my Chinese cultural customs, traditions and superstitions whereas, your average mainstream “white” individual is unaware of such things. And with respect to food this truly demonstrates that the majority of us North American born Chinese are truly not “white” on the inside…..and this topic is a discussion in itself.

With all this in mind, there are many individuals like myself with an upbringing that bridges two cultures and marketing to them with the same mainstream message will not resonate deeply. So how do you reach and engage with individuals like me? I feel the majority of corporations do a very poor job of it. They will more than likely be able to reach me through regular channels of communication but will they truly be able to connect with me on a personal level with their product and achieve brand loyalty? More than likely not because seemingly a large percentage of the marketing messages out there are created to target a non-multicultural world.

If I am different than the mainstream masses, how different are my fellow Asians who emigrate here from China. They have a completely different way of thinking and marketing to them is a little more challenging than eating a banana.

But if I was to be called a fruit, I much prefer to label myself as a mango, it tastes far better, much juicier and it’s “yellow” on the inside.

– Stewart

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