Friday, December 19, 2014

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Asian-American Heritage Week: Multi-Ethnic Family Works To Maintain Asian Heritage

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Tuesday NY1's Ruschell Boone filed a report on a Chinese Jamaican family making waves in the reggae music industry. Now she reports on how they stay in touch with both sides of their heritage as NY1's Asian-American Heritage Week continues.

It might not be obvious from looking at her, but once Patricia Chin speaks, it becomes very clear where she is from.

“I'm just a Jamaican, a true born Jamaican,” said Chin.

It's even harder for people to figure out her grandchildren's heritage.

“People actually think I'm Spanish,” said her grandson Jonathan Chin. “So I get a different reaction. And when I say I have Chinese in me they say, Îoh wait a minute, nah nah.’ And when I say I have Chinese and Jamaican, Îthey say whoa, whoa.’”

“They're just surprised and are like Îwhoa Chinese and Jamaican, that's pretty cool,’” said her granddaughter Christina Chin.

It might seem uncommon to some, but there are thousands of Chinese Jamaicans. Many were brought to Jamaica by British plantation owners in the 1800s. These days Asians are moving to the island in record numbers.

“There is a new influence of Chinese and Japanese and Asian influence,” said Kecia Chin, Patricia’s daughter-in-law. “The tables are turning. There's a new leaf.”

The Chins are a part of the old leaf. Patricia Chin says her parents didn't share a lot about their culture, but she has been sharing the little she knows with her children and grandchildren, like how to make Chinese food and how to speak the language.

“They teach us how to say different words,” said another granddaughter Stephanie Chin. “I remember this one time I was probably in second grade and they did something on culture and saying hello in different languages and they taught me to say hello in Chinese and I dressed up. I had these Chinese pajamas.”

The Chin family says they would like to be a little more in touch with the Asian side of their heritage, but they say that's hard to do because like many immigrants who move to Jamaica they have assimilated almost fully into the Caribbean culture.

“I, for one, have not really met family members that are actually from China,” said Jonathan Chin. “So I always pondered about that, you know. So we still keep in touch with them? Do we still have a link?”

That link has been broken for now, but the bond the Chin family has in the United States is still very much intact.

-Ruschell Boone


  • Chinese Jamaicans Help Reggae Music Evolve
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