From Academic Kids

Jook-sing (Cantonese for 竹升 Jyutping: zuk1 sing1), is a pejorative term used in the United States and Canada to describe Westernized East Asians, particularly Chinese, who have lost or "denied themselves" their Asian heritage. Jook-sing usually refer to citizens or long term residents of a Western nation who are descendants of immigrant families.

However, some are Asian international students who have spent an extended amount of time in Western societies. "Banana kids" (Heong1 ziu1 zay2) is typically more jocular and trendy lingo to describe acculturated youth.

"ABC" (from "American-born Chinese") and "CBC" ("Canadian-born Chinese") are more generic terms without negative implications completely.



"Jook-sing" literally means "A grain-measuring container made of bamboo". This refers to the fact that bamboos are hollow and compartmentalized, thus water poured in one end does not flow out the other end. The metaphor is that "jook-sings" are not part of either culture: water within the jook-sing does not flow and connect to either end. Some so labeled do not consider the term derogatory, though many do. An example of a jook-sing would be senk1 daw2 (升斗). Use of the term predates World War II[1] (

"Banana" is an alternative to "jook-sing" with the same basic connotation. The metaphor is that the person is yellow on the outside but white on the inside. (Some describe the skin colour of the Chinese as yellow.)

Another alternative that American-born and American-raised kids sometimes jokingly call each other is "twinkie," referring to the yellow cake product with white cream filling.

Stereotyped values and cultures

According to the pejorative meaning of the word, people labelled as "jook-sing" usually consider China as the mere cause of their appearance and an abstraction possessed by their parents or ancestors. They may know slightly more about traditional Chinese culture, especially the customs, than many non-Asians, but they still consider themselves to be more Western.

Some praise the "jook-sing" for their great pride and patriotism of their birth country. However, some first-generations see them as denying themselves their identity and shamed by the traditions of their families.

Oftentimes, the denial of Chinese-ness is evident in a common childhood fantasy to be born white (or have white parents or siblings) to avoid teasing and name-calling of other non-Chinese children in neighbourhoods and schools. However, with growth towards adulthood, this is usually reconciled with the beginning of an acceptance and embrace of their heritage.

Some "jook-sing" adults, however, sever ties with families and Chinese communities, informally, and mingle only with non-Chinese, mostly Caucasian. They typically view Chinese heritage as a setback to prominent social status.

As a result of Westernization, most of them are Christian by religion. Some might be possibly either agnostics or atheists.

Related terms

"Egg" is a rarely used term, occasionally pejorative, for the symmetric opposite situation: A Caucasian who has acquired Asian culture.

"FOB" is a pejorative acronym for "Fresh off the boat" used by ABCs/CBCs to describe recent immigrants. Typically, the recent immigrant doesn't understand the term "FOB" (as they are not fluent in English) and thus don't know when they are being insulted. Conversely ABCs/CBCs typically do understand the term "jook-sing".

See also: Overseas Chinese, Chinese American, Chinese Canadian, ethnic slur


  • Emma Woo Louie, Chinese American Names, McFarland & Company, 1998, ISBN 0786404183

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