Weird Asian-Americans & How they Damage Asian-Americans as a whole

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

1. Issues surround ethnic identity
2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

The Asian-American Community is its own Worst Enemy

By  Ronald Chiang

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

  1.  Issues surrounding ethnic identity
  2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

It seems that the majority of Asian-Americans dwell on their identity.  On one hand, they tend to do what they can to fit in with the majority population, whether it is just learning to be a monolingual English speaker, studying a eurocentric view of Asian history, or trying hard to fit in.

For whatever reason, many Asian-Americans chose to pursue a monolingual existence with English being their native or primary language.  They tend to not like speaking their cultural language (Chinese, Vietnamese, Gujarati) over some misguided attempt to fit in with the majority non-Asian peers in school or because they believe they are superior by virtue of living in the USA.

Then later in life, they lament about having a narrow life experience because they cannot pursue other professional opportunities due to a lack of knowledge in an Asian language or some sense of regret that they’ve compromised themselves.

Like most people, history in the United States for Asian-Americans is taught from a western standpoint often with the general concept that much of the US, Canada and Europe are rich and free while the rest of the world is poor and dependent on the USA for their futures.  As a result, enough Asian-Americans grow up believing they are again superior by virtue of living in the United States and develop a tendency to look down on their unamericanized Asian peers.

Again, as they get older and learn about reality being Asian-American, they regret being indoctrinated in such a falsehood and sometimes overcompensate with zealous support of their native country (China, Korea) in such a manner, including but not limiting to nationalism, and apologism, that they make native citizens of those places seem unpatriotic.

Then lastly, like their parents and other immigrants, many Asian-Americans work too hard to “make it” in the USA by becoming financially secure and often compromise themselves to fit in.  Some ways they’ve done this is by embracing the Model Minority stereotype, which implies that Asian-Americans will be accepted and fit in American society if they choose to become leading professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) and avoid social issues of “undesirable minorities” like African-Americans and Latinos.

They’ve also persuaded the rest of the country that they do not need diversity programmes like other minorities because they’re superior Model Minorities and they can work hard to go anywhere.  In extreme cases, they’ve gone out of their way to support Affirmative Action with calls to minimise Asian students to an absolute quantity in favour of diversity for everyone else (including White students).

Not surprisingly, because of the Asian-American community’s apathy and distance from diversity initiatives and the willingness of their majority to hold back their own community in favour of other groups, American society at large became indifferent to social issues in the Asian-American community ranging from dismissing Asians with personal struggles as “rejects” to simply keeping Asian-American media portrayals to an absolute minimum.

When the Asian-American community complains as a whole, the majority population does not take their calls seriously due to their ongoing claims of being Model Minorities, their willingness to put the interests of everyone else above their own community and their general need to stay inoffensive when faced with major social issues.

While it would be unfair to generalise the Asian-American community, the majority of individuals with such values tend to be those from California living in suburbs with upper-middle incomes, from families with university degrees, and have a misguided sense of social justice that involves letting everyone else benefit at their own expense.

These people are the reasons why no meaningful change has occurred among the Asian-American community due to outlandish fears of being grouped with the other minority groups, which often motivates them to avoid “rocking the boat” and an ongoing misguided belief that conforming to an untrue stereotype is the only way to succeed for a place in the USA.

Also, with the growth of social media and online forums these same individuals that often conform to stereotypes usually overcompensate for their perceived shortcomings by resorting to worshipping, if not cheerleading, events in their families’ ancestral country where they have no actual connection to their daily lives other than their ethnicity and known family history.  Examples of this involve Chinese-Americans supporting China’s decision to restrict foreign NGOs or build artificial islands in disputed waters.

Frankly, I am frustrated by all of you Asian-Americans for being walking stereotypes that resort to passive and weak methods to overcompensate for a lack of self-respect and ignorance in their actual history.   Moreover, any suggestions that Asian-Americans can improve their standing within the community through self-respect, understanding of their culture (bilingualism, history), and being assertive in society are often dismissed, invalidated and rejected by the majority who believe in conforming for the sake of pleasing others.

With that in mind, I honestly do not expect any meaningful change in the perception and treatment of the Asian-American community by Asian-Americans themselves and by other Americans in my lifetime.

The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.