Chinese Girl in the Ghetto Paperback – Mar 18 2011
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About the Author
Ying Ma writes regularly about China, international affairs and conservatism. Much of her research explores the nexus between political and economic freedom with respect to China’s rising influence on the global stage. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal Asia, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, Policy Review and other publications. She completed Chinese Girl in the Ghetto as a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
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Life in the US surprised her--while many things were better (she and her brother had a room to themselves), many things were strange, even violent and terrible. Someone stole her cherished pen, a goodbye present from her Chinese classmates. Kids swore, fought and grabbed snacks from anyone who had food. This was an inner city school in Oakland, and as Ying Ma struggled first to learn English, then to cope with helping her parents and learning much more, made her way to a better school and suffered again, being the poor kid with nothing.
But she rarely felt sorry for herself--she simply fought harder. Eventually she fought her way past prejudice, violence, meanness and won the love of a few teachers who fought for her to get the most out of the American education system. All the while, she had to work at a part time job and help her parents with any complex paperwork (mortgages, taxes, officialdom) and keep up with studies. It paid off and she ended up in law school, a success story. Her unvarnished story, with no sentimentality and a bald, open way of describing her life, is a uniquely American one and yet, a uniquely Chinese story. Her implacable determination and shrugging off of insults and blows is a Chinese way--the water wears down the stone. Against prejudice, injustice and racism, she prevails.
I couldn't put this down and read it almost all in one go. It's an amazing story and well-written. Recommended.
I am quite sure this tale is not a fantasy. I used to live in San Francisco with a friend from S.E. Asia. He had a wonderful Taiwanese friend. They were attacked by four black gangstas, who stole the Taiwanese boy's umbrella, beat him with it, and then ran off laughing.
Black racism does not end there. Black hatred of whites has been documented in "White Girl Bleed a Lot" (5th Edition): The return of racial violence and how the media ignore it.
Yet the "current wisdom" says that the word "racist" may only be used against white people, and we have seen a general orgy of that over the recent Trayvon Martin case.
Perhaps the "current wisdom" should consider the words of another man:
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
--Matthew 7:1-5 KJV
In any case, the book is finally inspiring. Due to talent and plenty of hard work, the author makes it to Cornell, and then Stanford Law School, and is now pursuing a successful career as a lawyer. She was able to buy a home for her parents, far from the ghetto, and they now live and garden in peace.
This is a short, sad, but inspiring read.
Caution: This book uses profanity in relating stories from the ghetto...naturally the first words learned by young immigrants to the ghetto.
This book is a quick and easy (though painful) read. It has the spare style of one writing in their second language. I think it could be revised to add more depth of emotion and "art" into the narrative, yet in it's plain style it may communicate something true about the necessary detachment and cultural limitations of immigrant life in the ghetto.