"One thing that I noticed that Chinese Communities have that Cape Verdean Communities (so far that I’ve seen) seem not to have is your Chinese School. Chinatown has Kwong Kow. Newton has GBCCA. There is a Chinese school in Malden. It’s a place not only to learn Chinese but a place to learn Chinese Cultural things. Folk dance, Chinese Yo Yo, Chinese dulcimer, painting, Lion Dance, Kung Fu… you get my drift.
I assume that Cape Verdean Community centers offer similar programming. But What I noticed talking to people is that it seems to be offered primarily to adults. It’s not a summer camp or after school program to push your kids into so that they can learn how to speak their language.
When Kwong Kow was more Taishanese, it was a place where, after all those hours, it was expected that you be able to write your name in Chinese, say a few words in “herng ha wah” the hometown language, in this case Taishanese, and hang out with some other Taishanese and Chinese people. But slowly other types of Chinese came in, Communist China became a powerful country, Kwong Kow slowly started to use Simplified Chinese as well as the Traditional Chinese characters and to start teaching Mandarin. In fact much of their summer camp and after school is now conducted in English and there are just Chinese classes. This is viewed as moving forward and at first glance, the Chinese community got it and the Cape Verdean community could learn from that.
But letting these ideas sit around a little bit, I realized that Taishanese culture is slowly strangling itself to death, while Cape Verdean Creole Culture, though around for 500 years, is just getting starting to come into its own power, Cabo Verde network, perhaps being on of the first steps of organization toward greatness. For instance, Professor Manuel De Luz Goncalves has recently written a Cape Verdean-English dictionary. So this is what I hear when asked about why there aren’t Cape Verdean schools. That it is a new idea. While Chinese is one of the oldest languages there is.
However, I have never seen a Taishanese- English dictionary. The explanation for this is that the writing is the same. But there are Cantonese and Hong Kong ways to write down certain words which do not translate directly into Mandarin. There are many Taishanese (and Cantonese) phrases which you can’t write down in Chinese…. But Jook Sings (Chinese Americans) will easily use these words to Google stuff using a non standardized English spelling, and Google will understand it and get you write where you need to go. In other words, though the Chinese community seems to be ahead, the Taishanese Community, in terms of cultural awareness. Seems to be behind Cape Verdean culture.
Many Cape Verdeans used to call themselves Black Portuguese. And here is where you really see that Cape Verdean culture is moving toward something greater, where Taishanese culture is slowly and willingly allowing Mandarin culture to finally, after thousands of years of civilization, to kill it off. There are no Cape Verdean childrens schools because children in Cape Verde learn Portuguese in schools. So the equivalent organization in America would be a Portuguese school. And why have that? Why not just learn English? But once you suddenly start to feel that you are NOT black Portuguese, but you are awakened to a Cape Verdean pride, then you start to look at yourself and your community differently.
Portuguese is the language the language of the empire and Cape Verdean is the colony, with its own culture and language which has been mixing for 500 years, and may have basis in a native culture which depending on which article online you read, was there, or was not there. Cape Verdean Independence happened in July 5 1975, so that even though the culture has been around, that pride in it, to organize to preserve and promote it is just getting started. But it is there.Taishanese in the meantime are slowly being further absorbed into Mandarin Culture, the Communist Chinese Empire. Many Taishanese Americans are starting to have that pride in a culture they lost. But nobody is doing anything about it yet. More self identified groups like Hakka, Hokien, and those types are similarly doing what I see being done in Cape Verdean Culture."
But writing this I realized there is a lot of work in Chinatown that I haven't been doing. I haven't reached out to the Hakka cultural association to see if there is a Hakka dictionary too or something like that. I haven't interviewed people about what they thought about learning Mandarin or Taishanese. But from my time I have heard what people had to say.
My Sifu was extremely pro Taishanese. He would say stuff like, "Those Northerners think they are so great, but they didn't even know how to leave China, to go out and be educated by the world. That's why Taishan and the Canton was always wealthier in the past. They did trade. And Communism came they knew it was time to run. But then after the insanity was over they could come back with a ton of money and build up Taishan."
It's interesting that I was focusing on languages/dialects the last few posts, but hadn't even thought to bring culture and cultural identity into that. I had to hang out with Cape Verdeans for a day and sleep on it for a night before I even realized that there was something here in Taishanese culture, that had been here all along, but is not even talked about much.. at least not in English.
I mean come to think of it, every village has it's own cultural magazine, but is any of that stuff online?
Come to think of it, maybe that sort of thing would be frowned upon, prehaps even bee seen as rebellious to the government. I mean you can't even watch You Tube videos of Lion Dance taking place in Chinatown when you are in China. Hong Kong yes, China no. In a fear that something political might slip through, they just ban all of it, though the excuse is technical difficulties.