It is true, like what the propaganda outlets and textbooks of formal education system in mainland China keep on repeating all the time, that China is a multi-ethnic country with 56 different nationalities, living peacefully together like, in CPC mouthpieces’ favorite jargon, “a big garden with 56 different kinds of flowers”. However, it is interesting to learn further about the imbalanced distribution that 92% are Han people and the rest of the 55 nationalities accounts for only 8%.
As a member of Han people living in the eastern and central part of China, it has always been not easy for me to actually feel the cultural diversity and my ethnic self-identity has, more often than not, been “not different” from most fellow citizens I encounter on a daily basis.
My trip to Tibet in 2008 indeed helped me a lot to reshape my vision, and when I started to work at the small and beautiful liberal arts college in Florida, things also changed significantly:
Through half-a-century history of this school, there have been only two students coming from mainland China, and I was also one of the few “lucky” Chinese teachers working here so far.
So, immediately my ethnic self-identity transformed from “not different” to “different” from most others I encounter everyday: I become a member of ethnic minority in this academic community.
Minority groups of all kinds are always the most susceptible to being unheard or even being silenced: political minority, gender minority, cultural minority, religious minority, etc.
Therefore, it felt great to be part of this project, which aims to amplify the slimmest voices on the campus. And here is a brief introduction to the project:
This photo campaign by New College of Florida students seeks to highlight and amplify the stories of marginalized identities on our campus. We share ourselves because our voices often go unheard, our experiences overlooked, and our reality questioned.
This photo project comes from a desire to be seen as we are – not as a homogenous group, but as individual people whose reality on campus is shaped by the intersection of our various identities.