The fortune cookie is a symbol that epitomizes the misrepresentation, misunderstanding and willful ignorance of Asian cultures by the collective Western society. An American invention, the fortune cookie was created out of the need to cater Chinese flavours to Western palates for the survival of Chinese immigrant-owned businesses, which were predominantly restricted to feminized labour such as foodservice and cleaning.
Despite the fortune cookie’s false roots, it is paraded as a symbol of Chinese culture – a simplification and lie which devalues 5000 thousand years of culture and development by one of history’s most experienced civilizations. This cultural misrepresentation will continue to perpetuate a divide; the West never being able to understand the complexities of our cultures and people, given their understanding is built largely on falsehood and stereotypes. This photograph represents my conflict as a person whose identity exists at the intersection between these two cultures. I must simultaneously embody the responsibility of representing my culture and race to my peers, yet I was raised and live in the exact society which devalues my heritage and makes it more socially acceptable to perpetuate this “fortune cookie culture” than to learn and find pride in my true heritage.
From Volume 4
Selected by Natalie Wee, Managing Poetry Editor
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