March 2, 2010

FFF- flip-flop foreigners

I have been struggling to coin a term for this group of people and it is not about tourists in flip-flops. By triple f’s I mean people who are caught in between cultures. In the nation of Flops they are Flips and in the nations of Flips they are Flops. How so?

Take second generation immigrants in some country such as say, Japanese in Brazil. People would call them Japanese there but if they went to Japan, the Japanese would call them ‘Brazilians’. So they are Japanese in the land of thier birth and Brazilians in the land of thier ancestors . Hyphenated Americans or, especially, naturalized Americans also face a similar classification: George Soros and Arnold Schwarzenegger are often referred to as the ‘Hungarian guy’ and ‘the Austrian immigrant’, respectively. However, if they go to thier native lands , they immediately become ‘Americans’ there. So, again in your old country you are an American, but you are not really an American in your new country. Kind of weird. Almost twilight zone-like.

Many people fall into this category. British Indians for one. Malaysian Chinese, too. A British Indian may have heard “Paki go home!” numerous times but he cannot do so. If he went 'home', he would be a Brit there. Plus, he is not even a 'Paki'. But he is an Indian/Pakistani in the land of his birth; at least as far as common people are concerned. Something similar happened to African Indians. They are called Indians in Africa but they become Africans in India. Flip-Flop, Flop-Flip.

Malaysian Chinese are a similar group. As far as the majority of people in go, these are just “Chinese”. However, if these land at the Beijing airport, they immediately become Malaysians. Why? Strange.

Arab-Americans are just Americans in the Middle East and African-Americans are just Americans in Africa.

I think being an FFF sucks! You do not have a real home and a place where you feel really comfortable in. The indigenous people in every culture will always see you as coming from another place no matter where you go.


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