The Question Of Identity (Flash Fiction)

Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #137

“I just have one last question.” Mr. Dai says to Lulan. They are in the office of “Ivy Training Center” in Edison where Lulan works. Dai comes for help with his resume, job interview training etc.

“One of the job openings is with New Jersey state government. I heard that if I’m a Pacific Islander, it will be easier for me to get the job. Do you think I should make such a claim? I grew up in a Pacific Island nation in Southeast Asia. Also my grandmother on my father’s side was from a remote island, spoke a distinct dialect. Nobody is more of a Pacific Islander than she was. Although she died when I was little, I think I am 25% Pacific Islander, don’t you think?” Dai asks.

“I don’t even know who falls under the category of Pacific Islander. I mean we immigrants don’t understand these terminologies. We only know our immediate circle and everything else is a mystery to us. There really should be a self help book for immigrants to explain things to us, but there’s none.” Lulan says. “Look, here google says Pacific Islanders include Hawaiian, Samoan, Guamanian or Chamorro, Fijian, Tongan, or Marshallese. Was your grandmother one of these?” Lulan says.

“I don’t know. I don’t understand this–there are so many islands in the Pacific and why is it that only seven island groups are chosen by google?” Dai says.

“I have no idea. I wish you can have some proof to back up your claim. What if you get the job and the New Jersey government wants to investigate your ancestry down the road? It would be embarrassing if you can’t provide the proof.” Lulan says.

“What kind of proof do I need to provide?” Dai asks.

“I wonder if a DNA test is considered a proof. Or some tribal affiliation?” Lulan asks.

“My grandmother was from a tribe. She was forced to marry the tribal leader’s idiotic son. So she escaped with her lover on a boat. That’s how she came to the capital to look for a new life… Does this count?” Dai says.

“Well, I don’t know if that will work. It is risky.” Lulan says.

“Don’t worry.” Dai stands up, full of smile and confidence. “Tell you what, I am going to talk with my relatives back home and ask them to dig up some ancestry.”

Lulan tries to stop him, but he grabs his resume and walks towards the door in happy strides. “I am a Pacific Islander. A Pacific Islander.” He shouts when he opens the door. When he steps out, a woman and her kid come in–the mother and the son stare at Dai in amazement.

15 thoughts on “The Question Of Identity (Flash Fiction)

    1. So true. I have zero interest to know my ancestors, having seen that most of my relatives are half crazy. I sort of estimate that our genes are not really good and my ancestors were probably just as crazy.

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  1. Haha – this reminds of a holiday I had in New Zealand, where there seemed to be some anti-Chinese prejudice. The Māoris exhibited this prejudice just as much as the European New Zealanders, and you could describe them as “Pacific Islanders” I guess. The Māoris didn’t want to be described as “Asians” because of the associations of that word with the Chinese.

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    1. Another oddity is that if you talk about “the Asian community” in the UK people will think you are talking about people of Indian and Pakistani origin. The Chinese aren’t included. They are “the Chinese community”.

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      1. I see. I mean the concept of being Asians involves so many different people, but in many parts of the world, Asians are the only category they are all put under.


    2. I heard about some stories concerning Maori and Asians. It is very much like the conflicts between minorities groups in America. Since the opportunities for minorities are slim. The old timer minorities often resent the newcomer minorities since the newcomers very often compete with old timers for limited resources available to minorities. Maori has struggled for so long and finally was able to get a foothold, but they know that the Asians are their competitors–New Zealand has a sizable Asian population, and among Asians, Chinese and Indians are the largest ethnic groups. It is very similar to the ethnic conflicts between minorities in America. I mean one hundred years ago, when the Irish and Italians were the minorities in New York City, they had similar conflicts. Still, we wish the world will be a better place and all these conflicts can be resolved or appeased or lived through …

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        1. It often happens in American politics that black and brown people ( immigrants and minorities) like me, when getting into the conservative party, become more aggressively conservative than others, as if they want to out-conserve the conservatives. As they are staying in the party they don’t belong, they are afraid that other people think they are disloyal. Thus all the ardent expression of loyalty to something they don’t really believe in. I know one local Asian politician like that and everybody thinks he is half mad.

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    1. He is from a family that pushes him for achievement in the academic and professional world. He doesn’t have the underprivileged background of a typical Pacific Islander, for whom the category is created. I don’t think he should make the claim, but I understand why he wants to make the claim.

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