The Foundations of “Asian American” Culture and Identity

In the middle of the excerpt by Zhou and Lee, they say that the incorporation of the second and proceeding generations of “Asian Americans” into American society will supplant the current, distinctly multiracial and multicultural Asian community with a wide encompassing, pan-ethnic identity. Thus, the term “Asian American” is still in it’s infancy, a few generations away from gaining the solidarity and exactness asserted by social scientists and contemporaries.

 

Although Asian immigration into the United States has been present for a few centuries, only in recent times has this influx constructed a notable essence in the defining characterization of the Asian American population. The flood of immigration in recent decades that still continues in the present, aside from their resilient heritage and customs, is what makes Asian Americans such a distinct group of people in American culture, even compared to other minorities.

 

Where as the white, Eurocentric majority has had centuries of homogenization, a process that has withered away the majority of previous cultural norms and influences, to culminate into and construct the dominant, mass American “culture,” Americans of Asian decent keep firm roots in their ancestry and tradition. The same comparison can be made with the Africans that were abducted from their homes centuries ago to be put into slavery where they were robbed of their cultural and ethnic identity (and humanity). For young Asian Americans this close relation to being an immigrant establishes a self-administered duality of outsider and neighbor, a struggle of family and ethnic community versus society at large, which is characteristic of the struggles in adolescence, yet intensified and resounding for this group of people who actually are at the cusp.

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