“Belonging” cannot be same as “Being local”

When people meet for the first time, “Where are you from?” is a common question to ask. “Ni shi bendi ren ma? Xinjiang ren?” Sophia Slavich asked her taxi driver. After confirming that he is indeed a local bendi ren, born in Urumuqi and grew up there, the driver tangents into a back-story of his Huber province ancestry. The driver emphasizes that he is Han people, rather than Uyghurs or Kazakhs, because the relationship between Xinjiang ren and Han people is tense. There were violent outbursts between these two ethnic groups and the Xinjiang ren, as the minority, is reckoned as the one who causes the violence. The emphasis of “being local” instead of “belonging” indicates that though one was born in a particular region and has been used to the local life style, he will not admit the cultural value is his heritage and he shares no common characteristics with others as well.

In my point of view, the tension between Xinjiang ren and Han people has existed for quite a long while. First of all, the significantly different appearance make both Xinjiang ren and Han people feel confused whether they are same or not. It is quite understandable that people get close to others with same appearance more easily. But people with different appearance don not mean they are enemies. In the meanwhile, historical colonization confuse Xinjiang ren as well, since they used to belong to other nations for several times before finally going back to China in Qing Dynasty.

To diminish negative connotations needs efforts from both sides. The notion of “belong” should be accepted by both Xinjiang ren and Han people. Belonging is an personal and social identification, that you are who you are born to be.