Okay, first the rules: there will be no name-calling, insults, cursing, ad hominem attacks, or suchlike on this thread. Also, if I feel that anyone is getting too ... er, passionate, I will delete their comment in the hopes that they will calm down and come back in a more practical frame of mind. Capiche?
Secondly, watch the video above.
The video is from Taiwanese American.org, an online magazine dedicated to "those who identify with the Taiwanese identity, heritage, or culture." They put this together with the sponsorship of a coalition of Taiwanese American groups, and the apparent sponsorship of the US Census 2010.
On their "About" page they write:
For Asian ethnicities such as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, and Vietnamese, one is able to fill in a bubble to declare their ethnicity in the Census. However, for someone of Taiwanese descent to declare their ethnicity on the Census they need to fill in the bubble for "OTHER ASIAN" and then write in "TAIWANESE." Many Taiwanese Americans and Taiwanese are unaware of this when filling out Census questionnaires. Census information is also protected by federal law to be kept safe and private.
By educating and encouraging families, young professionals, and college students alike to properly fill out the Census, we can achieve a larger and more accurate count. Thus, the voice of Taiwanese America will be more strongly considered by the political, financial, and social consciousness of the United States of America.
...And maybe next time, "Taiwanese" won't be listed as an "Other Asian".
So ... is this video telling its audience the whole story? When they say that Taiwanese Americans are under-counted, do they mean that they weren't counted at all, or that they were counted as "Chinese"? And what are the actual benefits to Taiwanese Americans in being counted "Taiwanese" vs. being counted "Chinese"?
Given that about 98 percent of Taiwanese are of Han Chinese ethnicity, what difference does it make if Taiwanese Americans write in "Taiwanese" or check "Chinese"? Is this about getting more money to Taiwanese American organizations, and away from Chinese American organizations that may or may not be dominated by immigrants from the PRC? Is this part of a broader political bid to get Taiwan recognized by the U.S. government? If "Taiwanese" is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau as a different ethnicity than "Chinese," doesn't that give Taiwanese nationalism much greater moral, as well as political, weight?
Isn't this a confusion of the terms "ethnicity" and "nationality"?
Or, have the centuries of Chinese (and Dutch) colonization of Taiwan resulted in a truly multiethnic community -- one that is much more mixed than Chinese-dominated family trees reflect? Is there a distinct, identifiable "Taiwanese" identity, and if so, how long has it existed as such? Did the Chinese nationalists who fled to Taiwan after the Communist takeover in 1949 actually impose a stronger "Chinese" identity on Taiwan than the country actually had? Are the culture, language, usages, mores, and other markers of identity in Taiwan distinct enough from that of the mainstream "Chinese" understanding of itself (such as it is) that "Taiwanese" represents a distinct ethnicity?
Is forcing Taiwanese Americans to identify as either "Chinese" or "Other" an injustice?
Is it a combination of political shenanigans and real identity issues? Is something else going on here?
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!