I did not know the term "banana" until I went to college.
I can't even remember how I learnt it, because I don't recall anyone ever calling me a "banana", despite admittedly being quite banana-ish! Amazing.
What's a "banana", you ask? Someone who is "yellow outside, but white inside": a Chinese who doesn't speak Chinese. Not really derogatory (at least, I've never taken it as such), but it does imply that you've forgotten your roots and discarded your heritage.
Actually, I always kinda feel like I'm undeserving of the term banana. I can speak Chinese! I can! At least enough to order food in restaurants -- priorities, hello? -- and to exchange some social pleasantries! And I celebrate the Chinese New Year (yay, angpow!), I know what the mooncake festival is all about (even if I don't exactly know when it is), and I like origami. Oh wait, that's Japanese. Darn.
"I wasted all that money sending you for Mandarin classes," my dad says to me.
When you're 8 years old, and no one, absolutely NO ONE in the ENTIRE WORLD speaks Mandarin to you, why would you want to learn Mandarin? I didn't see the point. Now, well... okay, now I feel a bit regretful. Especially after my younger cousins laughed at my pronunciation the last time we met. Twenty years younger than I, laughing at me! I get no respect around here. *shakes head sadly*
My family is definitely not traditional at all, despite celebrating Chinese New Year, which is the only Chinese festival we do celebrate. Last CNY, nobody wore anything new (you're supposed to dress in new clothes on the first day of the new year), and not only that, only three of us cousins wore red! Gasp! (Red is an auspicious colour for the Chinese.) About the only CNY ritual we follow is giving angpow (red envelopes containing money... yay, money!). And, of course, eating. Chinese New Year would not be complete without lots and lots and lots of food.
To compound the problem, not only is my family untraditional, I also read! Reading is dangerous! It can change you. Having grown up reading timeless favourites like What Katy Did, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Heidi, Black Beauty, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables, to name a few, many of my attitudes and ways of thinking are decidedly "western". At the same time, I can't deny that I'm Chinese and there's still a teeny weeny bit of Chinese influence floating around somewhere. I'm sort of stuck in between two worlds, and don't fully fit in either.
There's one way in which I'm very Chinese, though: I always eat noodles with chopsticks. It just doesn't feel the same if I use a fork and spoon!