Chinese-Jamaican Follows Family History Trail to Hong Kong

Chinese-Jamaican Follows Family History Trail to Hong Kong

Gaia Goffe of New York, her sister Tao Leigh Goffe, and her mother Judith Hugh-Goffe embarked on a journey to China looking for a greater understanding of her complex family history. Gaia Goffe was born in Britain, raised in the United States, and is of Chinese and Afro-Jamaican ancestry. Gaia and her sister, a university lecturer and expert in the Afro-Asian experience in the Americas, and her mother, a pediatrician, feared they would not be accepted in China because they were not “full Chinese.” This had been the experience of “half Chinese” or black Chinese people in Jamaica, where her mother grew up. It was not only the full Chinese people in Jamaica who were insulting toward half-caste individuals; Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels who built a house in Jamaica, coined an disparaging term on his own: he called them “Chigroes” and described them as living thoughout the Kingston area, a “tough, forgotten race” that looked down on “the Negroes” and felt the lack of respect from the full Chinese. Once the three women arrived in China, they did the usual tourist things and hoped to fivist the village to which the mother’s maternal grandfather returned in 1985 after living many years in Jamaica. They decided to look for Gaia’s maternal grand­father, Edwin Hugh, instead. He was born in Jamaica but raised in Fanling, China. They discovered the house to which he returned and several new cousins who welcomed them into the house, shared family photos, and showed them the family altar. The Chinese and the Chinese-Jamaicans were happy to discover their shared family hertiage.

Photo Source: South China Morning Post

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Stephanie Korney