A decade back, I was briefly involved on a magazine aimed towards Asian Canadians.
The magazine “banana” lasted for only about a year and a half before it went to the big Asian North-American magazine abyss in the sky like it’s other contemporaries - ‘A’ magazine, Monolid and a few others. The magazine then, had a demographic of a younger crowd… late teens to mid twenty somethings.
I’ve still got a collection of old banana magazines, and they’re probably collectors’ items these days.
I just can’t toss them away.
And for a bit of nostalgia, we’ve prepared today’s post on being a banana. It was a survey to get a pulse of how young Asian-Canadians felt about their identity – of being a banana.
Originally published during the winter of 2000- 2001. Here are the full, unedited comments from former banana readers.
The banana poll:
Banana is a term that embodies Asian values and Western lifestyle. It is a term that scares some and humour others. It reflects the group of people who are Asian by ethnicity and Canadian by lifestyle. They’re caught between the echoes of their eastern past and the wonders of the west. Symbolically, Banana means to be yellow on the outside and white on the inside. It does not represent the rejection of an Asian heritage, but rather an acceptance of both Canadian and Asian cultures. In a multicultural country, such as Canada, Banana is a term long overdue.
A recent publication denounced the use of the term Banana and wished to replace it with Lemon. We at Banana Magazine find this amusing and not to be (pardon the pun) sour, we’ve posted this poll to find out from you; what it means to be a Banana.
misogynist – canadian – Feb-08-2001 yesterday my friend, a visa student from asia, laughed at me because i spoke ‘funny chinese’. thinking back, ive seldomly been laughed at for speaking ‘funny chinese’, but thats not whats offending. whats offending is that a large portion of asians laugh at ‘bananas’ for their ‘funny chinese’, while forgetting THEY DONT SPEAK ENGLISH WELL. in fact, it’s not that they dont speak english well, they speak HORRIBLE english; we just dont find that humourous. these asians who laugh at the ‘bananas’… they are the same ppl who complain that the ‘bananas’ wont accept them. *gee* need you ask why?
misogynist – canadian – Feb-08-2001 having come from a predominantly ‘westernized’ family, i have always found it very insulting to be seen as a ‘banana’. i’m very proud to be asian-canadian, however the term ‘banana’ is something asians (ignorant ones at that) have concocted to fortify their insidious stereotypes. it’s a term to discriminate; another way to segregate individuals within their VERY ethnocentric views.
604tHuGPiNoY – filipino/chinese/spanish – Feb-07-2001 mmm….bananas….potassium…mmm….good for muscle cramps….
will - chinese – Feb-06-2001 bananna makes it kinda seem like white washed
CBC – canadian born chinese =) – Feb-06-2001 Being banana is great. You have the advantage of both worlds, and opportunity to enjoy both cultures. Although growing up in Vancouver during the 80s and early 90s, I’ve experienced lots of racism and nonacceptance from the “white” culture. That makes it difficult to embrace both the Asian and “white” culture when their people don’t like you. That’s just my two cents though.
ttplayer - Chinese – Feb-05-2001 Sorry, I don’t have anything of great substance to add at this time.
Kboy – cbc boy – Feb-04-2001 I love bananas!!! they are so tasty and juicy, YUMM YUMM…….I just want to eat one now…..
Kevin – CBC all the way – Feb-04-2001 I love your website. I hope you all the success with your magazine
Coolio – Chinese – Feb-03-2001 Banana is a term that I grew up with and is what I associate myself and my CBC friends as. I like the term banana and I’m excited that there’ll finaly be a magazine for Asian-Canadians. Hurray for Banana!
Phil – CBC – Feb-01-2001 Forget Banana, Yellow, Whatever. We’re the “Golden Children”
Sid Delicious – China born Chinese – Feb-01-2001 You kai-ais. Banana is passe. I’m a B. C. golden delicious…a Rocky Mountain warrior…a Gold Mountain dragon. Bananas – they don’t even grow in Canada.
homosapian – chinese/scottish – Jan-31-2001 who wants to be a fruit or a vegetable? a non-thinking organism at the mercy of whatever environment it grows in. I am red inside no matter my nationality. I think you are all nuts not bananas.
chinglish – chinese – Jan-31-2001 I think it’s being able to accept yourself as who you are. When I was younger I went through stages where I was insulted by people who called me ‘banana’ to being proud of being a banana. Today I know who and what I am and that I’m Chinese Canadian and I love it! yea yea cheeeese alert! haha.
Sarah Iwata - half japanese half whitey – Jan-30-2001 Being the ultimate banana means being the best of both worlds! the only downside is that everyone you meet says “what are you?” – It’s not that I mind it’s just anoying when people want to know that before they can remember your name. (ps. that cheese term is new to me)
CBC - Chinese – Jan-29-2001 Lemon??? Why Lemon??? Banana is the perfect descriptive term. There’s a difference being politically correct and too politically correct. Where is the line going to be drawn? To be multi-cultural is to have an open mind…
Nana – Chinoise – Jan-29-2001 I first heard of the term Banana when I was in my senior years in high school. I thought it was cool. I’m a “heung jew” (chinese for banana). Recently during a conversation with a HK friend, I asked her if she knew what Banana means. She smiled and said “Yeah, that’s you!” It’s a word that means your heritage is Asian but you’ve integrated your Asian background and Canadian culture together, and thus having the best of both. For those that don’t like the word, I think you’ll have to open up your minds because it’s probably a term thats going to be around for awhile.
Kevin – Canadian Born Chinese – Jan-29-2001 I am Chinese. Not banana or White or chinaman, as others might labell this “CBC” type of classification… but i like this banana magazine =)
Melissa – Chinese – Jan-29-2001 I personally like the term banana because it describes me very well. To those who feel that the term is derogatory, I think you’re missing the whole point. To be a banana does not mean that you are ‘white’ and hence “denying [your] own heritage.” Being a banana also does not mean that you have to ‘act’ or practice Canadian traditions entirely. Instead, bananas are people that practice varying degrees of Western and Eastern traditions. I’m a CBC and have many white friends yet I still believe and practice many chinese customs. This does not make me any different from another CBC who may not even celebrate Chinese New Year. We are all bananas-there is no absolute in the term. Like the fruit itself, it comes in many variatons of color, size, and type. Lastly, to Pamz, cheese is a nice term but I personally like banana still, at least it doesn’t smell. =)
Bummerbaby – Chinese – Jan-28-2001 Never thought I’d find a website like this. I think that ‘banana’ is a pretty accurate term for CBCs. I was born in Canada…but chinese values were always a part of my upbringing. We have yellow skin…but we grew up in Canada and inherited the ‘white’ culture…does that make us a banana? I think “Banana” is a good term…but “Cheese” is even better!
Pamz – Chinese – Jan-28-2001 I don’t really think that anyone can be considered a “banana” if they’re both Canadian and Chinese. I think of it more like “cheese.” Because when we’re with our relatives, usually we have to follow the Chinese tradition…but with our “white” friends, we act more Canadian. Just like cheese, we can be yellow or white! Just a thought! =)
God - Universal – Jan-28-2001 Darwin, how can a word make you so scared of it. Don’t know if you’re scared of the word Banana or more so of the word WHITE. You said that the word American doesn’t mean being white. Does that mean you’re scared of being called an American? Likewise,why can’t the word Banana not mean white also? You sign off with “Be proud of your Yellowness” Last I checked, bananas were yellow. Iceman’s comment on Multiculturalism is quite accurate. It explains your viewpoint. America is the big “melting pot”, Canada isn’t. It’s a mosiac, where people are not forced to assimilate, but their different cultures are valued and accepted. Consider moving over to Canada, you’ll probably find it more friendly.
Iceman – Chinese – Jan-28-2001 I want to add to Canadian Banana’s comment about Americans. I recently went to a Vancouver NAAAP function, thinking it stood for “NORTH AMERICAN Association of Asian Professional” but I was really turned off when I found that it really stood for “National Association of Asian AMERICAN professionals” How so American. I find it awful that an AMERICAN club has some chapters up in Canada. Couldn’t we have started our own club, or at least can’t they change their name to reflect their Canadian members?
Canadian Banana - Chinese – Jan-28-2001 I’ve been going to this website for quite sometime now and after reading a couple of comments from some Americans, I just realized that this is a CANADIAN site! Just how more of a minority can we be? Canadians: are they accepted in North American Society or should I say American society and then we’re also Asians. This is great, a website for the little guys! Also, there is something I would like to add about Asian Americans, I went to university down there and there is alot of Tensions between the different Asian cultures. IE: Koreans don’t get along with Chinese, Chinese don’t get along with Japanese, Japs don’t get along with Viets, you name it the tension is there. In Canada, it hasn’t gotten to that point and I sure hope it never will. Banana is a multi-cultural term. Denounce it and you’re denouncing multi-culturalism.
Shelley – Chinese/Japanese – Jan-28-2001 My parents were born here and my mother’s parents were also born here, but because of the way I look, I still always get asked, “What are you?” I want to answer “Canadian,” but I figure people might think I’m being cheeky. So I just have to say, “I’m Chinese and Japanese,” when my family is probably a lot more Canadian than a lot of caucasian families out there. I’m glad that my parents are so Canadianized, because I didn’t have to deal with the cultural gap growing up, that I saw a lot of other Asian teens dealing with, with their parents. But at the same time, I’m still very proud of my background, although my family may not follow a lot of the culture. I of course wish I could speak Chinese and Japanese, or even one of the languages, but since my parents could only communicate with each other in English, that was all that was spoken in our home. It’s amazing the number of caucasian people who assume I must be able to speak both languages! That would have been quite a feat for my parents to accomplish! Anyways, I’m very proud to be a banana!
Darwin – Chinese – Jan-27-2001 I think banana is a term for those asians who deny their own heritage and culture because they have been duped by the society, whether that be (Canadian or American) in which they were raised, in that, that they must assimulate or vacate. I’m a Chinese American and American don’t mean “white”, so to say i’m a banana is very offensive to me. I’m yellow through and through. Even though english is my primary language, it’s because i was forced by the society in which i was raised. I served in the armed services and a veteran now of the United States Marine Corps, so i don’t really care how others might view my statements as being un-american. I am first of all Chinese and proud of it!!! Again, being Canadian doesn’t mean white nor does American mean white, so many people out there make those misrepresented associations. Just say no to the term Banana’s, lol;) Be proud of your Yellowness….peace…outa here;)
Angel – Chinese (CBC) – Jan-27-2001 I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. I find that the term Banana fits just right. Heee! I kinda laugh at it everytime I say it, but it’s so true. I am pretty white in the inside and yellow on outside. =) Just the other day, I was chattin with some co-workers who called me a banana and they thought that might offend me, but I told them it’s ok to call me that. Cause I’m cool with it, and I call myself a banana too. =)
Musa Kim - Korean – Jan-27-2001 Personally, i feel your zine doesn’t represent the “non-bananas” among ASian canadians..
Riceboy – Vietnamese – Jan-27-2001 I grew up in Surrey, BC and going to high school was quite an experience. My friends all called me Riceboy, being one of the few Asians who could speak English fluently. I felt sorry for the new Asian immigrants who couldn’t speak english too well. They were shunned, which kept them to socialized amongst themselves. With that in mind, I am grateful that I am a Banana. Language can be such a barrier when it comes to acceptance. I wonder if the situation was reversed and I was in Ho Chi Minh City and I couldn’t speak Vietnamese. Would I be accepted? Are Bananas accepted outside of North American?
Deep Flied Banana - Happy Lucky Golden Garden Fortune Dragon – Jan-26-2001 i.e. typical names you would fine in the name of a Chinese restaurant.I’m a “CBC” “Banana” as people say. I speak English and can understand and speak more French and Filipino than Cantonese, which is what my parents speak around the house. “You bring this family shame!” Please! If you only had spoken it to me around the house when I was growing up! Bananas are kewl. Being a banana, IN MY EXPERIENCE, means you get to experience and inherit aspects of the many cultures that exist when you are growing up. “Banana” is just an expression. In my opinion, people who are offended by it should not take it too seriously. If people on this website are complaining about the word and the whole point of this website, then why are you here surfing it and wasting 5 minutes of your time writing it down. Don’t even think of the term again. Don’t visit the website again. Some people like to use it to describe themselves, some people don’t. Why bother trying to change someone’s mind about something as non-life-threatening as a word. I like the term…I also like to be called Chinese, Chinese-Canadian, Canadian, or just plain human. To Me (the person writing about the sexual innuendos). I wasn’t too impressed about that either, but lighten up, it’s just a picture and take it for what it’s worth. I don’t think the average lay person would confirm or strengthen asian canadian stereostypes or exotification through that picture. I don’t think the original intentions of the website designers were to do so either. Just Simma Down Now!
vince – chinese – Jan-26-2001 you should have a members section to your website.
Muh Music - Chinese – Jan-26-2001 Hey Jook Sing, is that the same name that Much Music VJ has? Jook Sing Li?
Alex – Vietnamese & American – Jan-26-2001 My mom is Vietnamese & my dad is American. I don’t look anything Asian, if anything I look Greek. I speak Vietnamese fluenty because of my upbringing with my mom and her side of the family. You should the faces of both the Asians and the Americans when I speak Vietnamese. If you think being a banana and not being able to speak your native tongue is hard, try speaking your native tongue and not looking anything at all Asian.
Tim - Chinese (CBC) – Jan-26-2001 I can’t speak Chinese, I mean I don’t even know when someone is speaking Thai, Japanese or Chinese, it all sounds the same to me. I was at Subway and this guy wanted to order something, but he couldn’t explain so I stepped in thinking that because I looked Chinese it would be more comforting for him. He begins to ramble something at me in Chinese, I said I couldn’t speak it and so he ignored me, then a white guy steps in and does the same thing and he starts pointing and interacting with the white dude! I was discrimated by a Chinese guy because I was Chinese! I think language is a definate barrier but I think for the most part the responsibility of acceptance lie with the non-English speaking side.
Sandy – Chinese, but I look Flip – Jan-26-2001 Woo Hoo! Bananas! Back at our highschool in Calgary, during multi cultural week, we had a Banana Split eating contest. I was on student council so I was one of the people who got to make the splits and I would make sure that my friends had the shorter banana while every one had the longer ones. Since then I was known as the Banana Girl, but now that has a double meaning! I’ve since married a great hubby who’s English, so I guess I’m going to have banana kids one day!
Twinkie – CBC – Jan-26-2001 Reading some of the names that has been brought up has been amusing. Personally, I’ve been called a twinkie. It stuck with me for awhile. I still think it’s a cute name. But I think a banana is better than a twinkie any day, and that’s not coming from a health expert either ;-P
Jook Sing – chinese – Jan-25-2001 Once a neighbour who recently moved here from Hong Kong Called me a “Jook Sing”. Jook Sing means Bamboo Pole. He said like a Bamboo Pole I was stuck between the notches in the pole. He said that I could never really be Chinese nor could I ever be white (or completely accepted by either). My response is I have a choice of what I want from each culture. I guess that is the beauty of being a banana, oreo cookie, hard boiled egg or whatever.
Me – Filipino & Chinese – Jan-25-2001 what’s with the girls licking a banana (in your flash intro)? (peeled no less… does that imply that asian girls prefer to lick white [guys] penises and not [yellow] asian guys? do you think that’s sexy??? Is it supposed to be funny? maybe i am missing an intelligent reference to porn culture, i mean pop culture? I don’t find it funny, being an asian canadian woman trying my damnest to break free of asian stereotypes and exotification. Or maybe you are trying to add another derogatory meaning to your beloved “banana” by making a reference to cocksucking? do you think that will make a better image for your sisters, mothers, girl friends? if your publication is supposed to be defining “asian canadian-ness” please skip the pornographic innuendos. lets create a positive identity for all asian canadians. lets not limit ourselves to bananas or lemons or mangos or whatever fruit. lets focus on being the People with a huge positive impact! i am hoping you have a good explanation. i would love to support you guys but you will have to support me (and all asian canadian women). can anyone give me some answers? send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana – LaO – Jan-25-2001 Im asian-Canadaian! Heheh! Yay! But some asians aren’t all yellow!! Me is brown!! Does that matter??
Holly – Steam Bun – Jan-25-2001 That is what one of my asian friends calls me, so instead of being a banana-yellow on the outside, white on the inside- I am white on the outside and brown on the inside. I enjoy not only asian cultures, the food and travelling, but if I had a choice to go anywhere in the world I would jump at going back to asia. Perhaps the phrase “steam bun” is a politically correct faux pas but then it’s how I feel. Power to bananas and stamed buns!
oldie but goodie – Japanese – Jan-24-2001 I grew up in Steveston a long time ago. Banana was a term used to describe me and my family. I think it really started back then. We chose to accept Banana as a good term; besides Banana Splits were the craze. The point is, my family CHOSE to accept the term, therefore we empowered it. – To the Banana Crew: Good luck, this is an idea long overdue in the Asian Community.
Parkman – Korean – Jan-24-2001 Banana! No one ever really explained the term to me before… but I like it. Sounds cool and funny. I take no offense at it (even if a white person called me a Banana) It’s about self confidence and accepting who you really are. Laugh at the term, accept it and empower it!
Lisa – Chinese – Jan-24-2001 I’m unsure of the roots of the term “banana”. To me, it seems like a derogatory term, but if we as Asians are reclaiming it, then it can be seen as empowering. But really it depends on who is addressing me as a banana that makes the difference between if it is an insult or a “term of endearment.”
Robert – Caucasian – Jan-23-2001 I have many Asian friends. Living in an almost white community is difficult for some of them. My buddy who is Korean was called a “chink” several times and has had eggs thrown at him. I love the culture. I speak Japanese and am going to Japan this August for 9 months to continue my university degree. However, I have noticed that a lot of Asian-Canadians that I know do not know much about their roots or speak the language. I think that it is a shame since it is such a wonderful culture. I think that Asian-Canadians should be proud of their rich history. Any one who is racist should go to hell because they are ignorant and don’t know what they are talking about.
CRX boy - Chinese – Jan-23-2001 Lemon? Give me a break, that’s such a stoopid name! Hi everyone, I’m a LEMON, wanna be my friend? Who wants to be known has a bitter and sour fruit? Wait a sec., I got an ex-girlfriend who you could call a lemon, but then again that’s why she doesn’t have many friends. Why don’t you just call yourself a Durian instead? It’s white on the inside and sorta yellow on the outside, but it has spikes and it stinks to hell! How about a melon? But then overweight people would get offended. Just stick with BANANA, it’s a classic and everyone knows what you’re talking about. It’s sweet, tastey and it’s a fun fruit!
Sushi man – Japanese Canadian – Jan-22-2001 Colleen, I hear you. The only Japanese thing about me are my eyes. I don’t speak Jap or do I understand Jap. My parents are almost as white as me. So I wouldn’t even know where to begin to act like a Japanese Person. To my credit I did watch Karate Kid 1 & 2 =)
Colleen – Chinese&Vietnamese – Jan-22-2001 It’s tough being what you’re suppose to be when half of the time you don’t know what it is you are!
Carrie – Chinese – Jan-22-2001 Banana is cool!
Peter – Chinese – Jan-22-2001 I am a CBC and I find it hard for me to be accepted by older Chinese people who can speak Chinese. It’s like they expect me to be able to speak Chinese, but I don’t complain when their English sucks. It’s a double standard.