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The movie Crazy Rich Asians has been well-received here in the U.S. probably in part because the story is told from an Asian-American point of view. Asian-Americans and mainstream America alike can identify with the characters. But although it’s not yet been officially screened in China, the early feedback is that it is not nearly as well-received by mainland Chinese. This may be a symptom of Asian-Americans, and Chinese-Americans in particular, being perceived as both not Chinese enough or “American” enough. (As a side note, there is an interesting line where Rachael, played by Constance Wu, tells Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) that they can have a “private” conversation in English because the other ladies at the mahjong table with them only speak Hokkien. It is a hidden irony because Michelle in real life is of mixed Hokkien and Cantonese descent, and is seen during the movie addressing the kitchen staff in Cantonese.)
In attempting to win business from Chinese companies, Asian-Americans sometimes run into a type of reverse discrimination, fueled by a perception that the Chinese company needs a white male to represent them because our courts and legal system are dominated by such a demographic. After all, that’s who they see on U.S. television, right? But at the same time, such clients want someone with whom they can converse in Chinese. As you might expect, this form of discrimination in reverse seems to have become more common with the rise of the Trump administration. Bring your own stories and solutions, and come enjoy lunch and a discussion on this timely topic.
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