“I think if political tensions continue to rise, we will find ourselves in situations, whether we are in the states or in China, where people will pressure us to identify with one over the other, said Easten Law, 38, of Princeton, NJ
“For us ordinary Chinese Americans, we have to deal with the same questions about, you know, asserting versus separating and analyzing what we should identify with and what we should not,” he said. “I think it’s inevitable.”
For others, the criticism of Mrs. Gu felt personal. Several described experiencing the weight of other people’s narrow expectations of how Asian Americans should act, think, and identify.
Jessica Wu, who lives in Queens, has never felt this projection more clearly than in 2017 when she flew from Portugal to Philadelphia. As she passed through immigration with others from her plane, Ms. Wu, an agent from the Transportation Security Administration, laughed when he saw her U.S. passport and asked if she was actually a U.S. citizen.
“Even though I never felt I should choose or even think about my identity, I think other people make that assumption for me or they put their own racist assumptions on me,” Jessica Wu said.
Although Mrs. Gu, who was born to a Chinese mother and an American father, has described herself as a typical Asian-American teenager, she had an unusually privileged childhood. She grew up in a wealthy neighborhood in San Francisco, attended an elite private school and spent most summers in Beijing.
There is also her ambiguous citizenship status: China does not allow dual citizenship, but there is no record that Ms. Gu has waived her U.S. citizenship.