Notes on my Research

Ancient Historical Background:

Xiongnu, a nomadic ethnic group from the steppes of central Asia disappeared in modern society. A part of it was assimilated and absorbed into Chinese ethnic groups and Han Chinese. From this aspect, I will refer to Chinese history and Han Chinese deal with nomadic groups. Primarily I will look at Chinese History in Modern Chinese By Simian Lv. Also, I will see if I can get the book The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China By Tomas J. Barfield from Kean Library.

Pre mordern Origin:

Although Chinese official rhetoric claimed that China is a “United populated country comprised of multiple nationalities (zhongzu, kind lineage),” the distinction between ethnicity (minzu, people lineage) and race (renzhong, human linage) was never clear. It is always perplexing to average Chinese that for the most of time people use these words interchangeably to indicate each other. The loosen usage of these words are partially the result of that the modern definition of race and ethnicity in Chinese were transported from Japanese as well as western missionaries. In ancient Chinese, zhongzu, means merely kind and minzu means indicate the same kind of person in the community (the same occupation of else). So even though it’s been taught at K- 12 education “our country is untied multi-ethnic (minzu) country, it is still confusing for most people what exactly this ethnic implies.

On the other hand, pre-modern Chinese scholars had intense debate over the question: what are we (what race do we belong to?) who are we (what are the ethnic groups that should be included in Chinese)? Based on western “scientific” racial and ethnic researches. Chinese scholars intentionally interpreted these concepts differently in order to achieve their political interests and justify their revolutionary attempts. I will do further reading mainly from The Discourse of Race in Modern China by Frank Dikötter and other Chinese racial researches to try to explain the conceptual difficulty for the African communities in china to be accepted.



Modern racial problems with Chinese African community:

From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism: Discourse of Race and Chinese Nationalism By Yinghong Cheng is the article that originally engendered by interests. This research Article gave a narrative history about African communities in modern China. Also, insightful analysis was provided about this issue. For my class presentation, I will first introduce this issue and then try to crack the situation from Chinese history. These are questions that will be answered throughout my discussion in the class. How it comes into being? Is this a completely different new issue? What will it be in the future?



Attempting to get attention can be much easier than half a century ago. When I was watching Selma, the movie about Dr. King and civil rights movement, I imagined that the progress would be made much faster than if powerful social media we have now was established that time. Most of us wish that our class can make a difference and I believe this entails the involvement of mass media. In the time that everyone can be a self media through twitter, Facebook or other social networks, a more important thing to consider here is how to let more people see our effort and join us.

Attracting attention from authoritative figure and traditional media, I believe, is the key to publicize the work we have done in our classroom. The hardest part lies on how to gain the attention from authoritative figure in the field and social media. I think an artistic and active creation is necessary here. We may video tape our class presentations and edit them to be an evocative promotional video. Planning to attract wide attention is never my specialty, but I will put my effort in order to achieve that.



Everyone is unique. Everyone of us is special. Right, that’s the concept that’s always been there that helps people recognize the value of themselves. Yet, we are not that different. When you believe that your sufferings and struggles are distinguished from other’s, perhaps all your depressions are just a part of a classical psychological reactions.

This is applicable for racial and ethnical relations too. Although racial and ethnical backgrounds various from country to country, the are a lot of similar features in terms of popular opinions about races and the attitude towards minority groups in a society. Latin America and China are two completely different counties countries with disparate history and culture, but similar unity and separation can be find in both places.

I believe that’s my expectation about our project and group presentation. My partner Jon is interested in discovering Latino or Hispanic identity, namely what it means to be Latino and Hispanic. And my research interest is the Chinese majority and minority relations, including the assimilation and separation, and current xenophobic attitude towards African immigrants in China.

By demonstrate two completely different but closely connected cases, I wish we can relatable changes of racial and ethnical relations and the universal reasons underlying these phenomenon.


The Story Whispered In Your Ears


You are not sure why you are proposing this, but you know the idea of writing a personal essay about race, ethnicity and identity has been turning over in your mind for a quite a long time.

The scattered fragments flashing back forth in you mind as if they were shattered pieces of gloss glasses. They are so familiar that you feel like you are doing the last rehearsal before debut; they are so absurd that you are convinced that all these only exist in your wildest fantasy; they are so intimidating that you cringe and curl up in a corner; they are so vivid that you stretch your hands as if you want to seise some intangible glitters.

You remember last time you thought about writing this down in a form of braided essay. Glanced around, your sight dwelled at your identification card. For that second, you were not sure anymore if that was a card that records your identity information or a card that tells you who you are. So you picked up the card and contemplated. Name, Gender, Birthdate, Address and Race, all these seemed to be peculiarly familiar. Do they define you as who you are? Or it is that who you are that defines them?

———-2 —————

Somehow, you knew from the very beginning that it was not the kairos to write it down. You were confused by these identities. You wished every single column on your card can be emptied, forgotten or vanished. You craved a moment of absolute autonomy, just like folks craving a moment of tranquility after a mutiny. Just a moment that you can actually feel your flesh without labels, restrictions or definitions.

You imagined your flesh started to flee, as if the sands flee from the pace between your fingers, and your soul will be emancipated or untangled from your body.

So that rough draft was left there to be finished until the day when you discover more about yourself and your identity. But this unfinished piece enervated you as much as the labels on your identity: you don’t know how far you were to the authentic realization of who you are, just like that you don’t know how far these labels were to the authentic disclosure of your identity.

———-3 —————

All these faces keep emerging like the pathway dipped by the drizzling sunlight. You thought about those racist warnings camouflaged as warm caring advices you got before you came to the united states. You thought about that Chinese mentor told you that this city is dangerous because of minority people live around. You heard all these toxic snobbish words like contaminated soup served to all your Chinese fellows. You witnessed how they became so paranoid that they dare not let their african american suit mate get into their room. You witnessed how hey became so cynical when talking to each other in Chinese about “old black” they met at cafeteria. You witnessed how they became so miserable that they walked became their own prisons of their misconception and prejudice.

And now, you heard the murmur in your head telling you that it is time to write all these down. You saw all these cruelty around you like rowens spinning around your head. Finally, you made up you mind to write down all that in one personal essay. You want to raise you voice and let it be loud. You will tell all that you saw when peeking underneath the curtain, the fire, the rage, the blood, the hate and the sublime humanity.

Somehow, an image of a ritual appears in your mind. Perhaps this is a destined ritual on the pathway of your life.


Race Ethnicity and Me

Currently, therefore, I have some general ideas about my project in this class.


I want to do a comparative literature study on Muslin Funeral by Huo Da published in 1988 and James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. The major aspects that I will focus on is the messages presented by narrative and how the racial and ethnical backgrounds influence narrative. Narrative theory, rhetorical theory and racial ethnical writing theory will be collaboratively used in the project.

Although I was taught from kindergarten that there are 55 minority groups in China and heard random tales from my primary school class teacher about her Hui (a Chinese minority group that is mostly distinguished by their islamic belief) student who doesn’t eat meat offered by school cafeteria, it was not until my sophomore year in high school when I met my first minority friend, a Hui Chinese, that my vague impression about race and ethnicity started to emerge. What motivated me to focus more on racial and ethnical problems about reading and writing was a image presented in James Baldwin’s personal Essay Notes of a Native Son:

“I don’t know what was going on in my mind, either; I certainly had no conscious plan. I wanted to do something to crush these white faces, which were crushing me.”

While completely enthralled by this powerful image, I started to think about how the presentation of narrative, language, images are presented as a result of racial and ethnical backgrounds.


I want to do a research on how nationalism and racism are presented in discourses in China and how Chinese diplomatic discourses are written in order to appease the tension between different races and ethnic groups in China.

As a homogenous country, China has the racial and ethnical problem as complicated as the the United States. Racial and ethnical discrimination is also rampant in China as well. As Chinese scholar Yinghong Cheng pointed out in his research From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism: Discourse of Race and Chinese Nationalism, a nationalistic discourse that emphasize on a “racial Purity” and “continuation of Chinese” is continuously presented as patriotism in Chinese education and pop culture.


I want to write a personal narrative about my experience as a Chinese being exposed in a multi-racial, multi-ethnical, multi-cultural environment.

From a part of majority group to a member of minority in a different country, from a racially homogenous country to a immigrant country, all these are overwhelming and amazing experiences for me.