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Asian American Assimilation vs Acculturation
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:02:41 PM)

ooner of later every minority person faces the identity question. It comes in a variety of flavors but at its core is the assimilation vs acculturation dilemma.
     What's the difference?
     As used by social scientists, assimilation is allowing one's original culture to be overidden by the dominant culture. Acculturation is acquiring the capability to function within the dominant culture while retaining one's original culture. The distinction seems subtle but is fraught with not-so-subtle social and psychological implications.
The Mirror
Assimilate or acculturate?

     Collectively, the Asian American population shows statistical evidence of both assimilation and acculturation.
     The 2000 Census counted 11.9 million identifying themselves as Asian Americans. That total was comprised of 10.2 million (85.7%) claiming purely Asian heritage and 1.7 million (14.3%) claiming mixed heritage. Of the mixed-heritage Asian Americans, 868,395 (52.4%) claimed part white ancestry, 138,802 (8.38%) claimed part Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander ancestry, 106,782 (6.45%) claimed part black ancestry, and 249,108 (17.7%) claimed another unspecified race. These mixed-race Asian Americans evidence a notable degree of assimilation, especially in light of the fact that in most parts of the U.S. anti-miscegenation laws weren't outlawed until the late 1960s.
     Other statistics suggest Asian Americans prefer to acculturate while retaining their Asian heritage. Spoken language provides some insight into the issue. As of 2000 8.5 million Asian Americans (71.4% of the AA pop.) spoke English "very well". Yet at home 54% nevertheless spoke an Asian language, suggesting an effort to preserve Asian heritage even among those who had acquired the ability to function in the mainstream.
     In the final analysis, the assimilation vs acculturation decision can only be made individually by each of the 13.4 million who make up the Asian American population as of late 2002. The decision may turn on personal factors like length of residence in the U.S., occupation, education, early experiences, family influence and self-image.
     Asian Americans share one commonality which, for some, may override all others: faces that irrevocably distinguish us as members of a minority race -- one which happen to be the plurality in the world at large. This physical identification factor induces some of us to see ourselves as having neither the ability nor the incentive to assimilate like the Irish, Germans, Russians, Italians, Jews, Poles and other European groups.
     Others believe that socio-economic status and not the mirror is the primary criterion for mainstream acceptance. By this measure, we may well have arrived. While only 24% of the overall American population completed at least a 4-year degree, among Asian Americans the college-completion rate was 42% as of 1997. And the college-completion rate is climbing. Among Asian Americans aged 25-29, fully 50% had at least a bachelor's degree. The higher educational levels have translated to higher rates of entry into professional positions (43% vs 27%) and higher median household incomes: 42% of AA households earned more than $75,000 as of 2000.
     Ultimately, the million-dollar question isn't whether we can assimilate, but whether we should. What are the advantages and disadvantages of retaining our identities as Asians in a white-majority society? What's the price paid by those who choose to assimilate? What's better for the U.S. as a nation?

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WHAT YOU SAY

[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
I hardly think that adopting a pseudo-urban-hip hop culture and calling each other yellow niggaz is in keeping with asian heritage and ideals.
Also, I am bilingual, and do not dye my hair. That doesn't give me the right to look down upon people who are not bilingual or dye hair. It basically means that one's parents were thoughtful enough to teach their children their language or they just weren't comfortable speaking english. As for my hair. Who cares?
J
   Friday, March 14, 2003 at 21:39:26 (PST)    [68.40.57.44]
Stop being so untight (I believe it's UPtight though):

"Nigga" has entirely different connotations from "Nigger". You're right; "nigga" is a term of endearment between black individuals, but "nigger" is another version of it that is meant to degrade.

Besides, for a former epithet to turn into a term of endearment, BOTH PARTIES that call each other by that word must, by, default, belong to the group. I'm no crass enough to call black acquaintances "niggas", trust me. You must think everyone here are idiots.

So why don't YOU lighten up, and stop being so uptight yourself? =)

Cheers man.
SY
   Friday, March 14, 2003 at 14:58:43 (PST)    [128.253.186.46]
SY,

Shouldn't be too surprising as the asian population grows in the USA, eththic enclave will produce individuals with stronger asian identity.

The older generation did not have the luxury of a well establish societal infrastructure due to the lack of asian population density in the USA back then.

Of course a good dose of liberal thinking in the mainstream helps foster a respect or cultural and ethnic diversity in the USA. But watch out conservatives are on the rise in the USA due to our uncertain future these days.
AC Dropout
   Friday, March 14, 2003 at 07:05:43 (PST)    [24.136.115.189]
SY:

I'm in my early 20's and consider myself more of a FOB than a banana even though I've lived here since I was 2.

Honestly, my friends and I look down on bananas who can't even speak their own Asian language. I guess it's because we're all bilingual.

I personally think we're more in tuned with our Asian culture, than they are.
AZN 1
   Thursday, March 13, 2003 at 21:14:16 (PST)    [68.164.61.204]
Kids these days are a bit less banana overall, since they've adopted a pseudo-urban-hiphop culture as their own. As my friend says, they're 'yello-niggaz'. lol. even those suburban kids. But the older people seem to have been much more strongly influenced by white america.
SY

* That would depend on where you live and which Asian group you're referring to. And who paved the way for younger generations of AA to have more pride in their Asian roots? I don't think younger AA should go around calling each other "yello niggaz" its not flattering and its degrading. If you really had any pride you wouldn't be doing that. Its just like blacks calling each other "niggas", how on earth you expect to get respect from other races when you call each other niggas? Term used by whites to degrade blacks? I know its a term of endearment among some blacks but I've noticed its the ignorant ones who call each other that.

AF or AM in the US who dyed their hair blonde or lighten it with blondish colors are similar to the blacks in the 30's and 40's who straightened their hair out with lye. They went through a lot of physical pain to imitate the white look. When would Asians stop dying their hair and be proud of their natural hair. I think Asian parents need to educate their kids on being proud of their own heritage. Being an American is not equal to forsaking your identity and heritage. In fact, nobody can forsake their identity. You can deny in front of Asians that you aren't Asian. However, in the eyes of whites, you are Asians, no matter what your hair color is.
FOP

* I think some you guys are overly sensitive. I've not seen too many AA with dyed hairs either at least not here on the east coast. And some that I've seen with light brown or reddish tint look good on Asians but not blondes, my personal opinion. But just because a person dyed their hair doesn't mean he or she isn't proud of their culture. Unless he or she specifically saids so. I'm sure its just a fad among the youth and especially among women.
Every summer millions of whites go down to the beach and sun bath does it mean they want to be tan like us? Some get high cheek implants does that mean they want to like East Asians? And lip implants mean whites want to be like blacks right? And I'm sure all of you who are critical all wear western clothing, are you trying to be white???
All cultures throughout history have borrowed, adopted and asslimilated another cultures so its not a new pheononon.
Stop being so untight
   Thursday, March 13, 2003 at 19:27:48 (PST)    [205.188.208.38]
People only look up and admired those that are proud of who they are. If you are one thing and try to be something else. That is nothing to be proud of, plus some american people would probably think you are trying to imitate them. I think if more asian people appreciate themselves for the way they are.. I mean by hair color and traits more people of any other race will see you in a positive light.
McDonald....
   Thursday, March 13, 2003 at 16:15:54 (PST)    [24.239.152.113]
It appears the banana quotient is rather high here at Goldsea. It may be an indication of the age demographics, it's probably mostly adults mid 20s to much much older (40+).

Kids these days are a bit less banana overall, since they've adopted a pseudo-urban-hiphop culture as their own. As my friend says, they're 'yello-niggaz'. lol. even those suburban kids. But the older people seem to have been much more strongly influenced by white america.
SY
   Wednesday, March 12, 2003 at 16:57:13 (PST)    [128.253.186.46]
AF or AM in the US who dyed their hair blonde or lighten it with blondish colors are similar to the blacks in the 30's and 40's who straightened their hair out with lye. They went through a lot of physical pain to imitate the white look. When would Asians stop dying their hair and be proud of their natural hair. I think Asian parents need to educate their kids on being proud of their own heritage. Being an American is not equal to forsaking your identity and heritage. In fact, nobody can forsake their identity. You can deny in front of Asians that you aren't Asian. However, in the eyes of whites, you are Asians, no matter what your hair color is.
FOP
   Wednesday, March 12, 2003 at 12:32:55 (PST)    [65.147.93.81]
Here in Boston an Asian girl with black hair is actually a rarity- I'd say 80% or more have either completely bleached blonde hair, or brown/blonde highlights. Black hair is just "out of style". Don't see too many colored contacts, but you do see the occasional obvious breast or eye surgery.
bostonian
   Tuesday, March 11, 2003 at 11:55:23 (PST)    [207.183.118.61]
True Brother:

"Can you ever imagine a white person contemplating eye surgery or dying their hair black to better blend in with HKongers or Koreans? Maybe it's time for some painful introspection."

Very very very good point there True Brother! Too many AAs think that assimiliation is to be white, a unattainable feat by any means. Sad but true. It seems pretty ridiculous to view it from the other side somewhat as you'd stated. Yet, how often have you seen blonde asian girls with blue contacts? I see more asian girls with blonde hair as much as black hair these days, with many shades in between. I know not all this points to the inferiority complex, but enough do.

Yes, it's time for some "painful introspection."

Let's ponder what it really means when we say "assmimilation?" Perhaps one day, we can be truly Asian Americans, showing our own cultures and genetics proudly. Too many today shun our parent's culture and even the genetics they'd given us, calling it "assmiliation" or becoming americanized. Such is hogwash if you ask me, and is the root of our colonial mentality. If we continue on this path, we will never acculturation, but will assmiliate in a painful fashion where "low self-esteem" will be forever the norm. That is until we eventually die out, as more and more of us shun our own race as partners. Sad, but true.

"Maybe it's time for some painful introspection."
Asian_Observer
asian_observer@winning.com    Monday, March 10, 2003 at 23:21:18 (PST)    [24.168.131.252]
Ed.
Good for you. You know how to read. Heres a novelty, I didn't lookup the definition in dictionary I learned the terms in a (say it with me now) u-n-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y. I have a degree in cultural anthropology. Since that American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed is so useful to you look up the word "aculturate" again and observe that if the original culture is "modified" a person can't (as the article author put it) "retain[ing] one's original culture." That is why I used the word 'hearth' because hearth refers to the pure essence of, in this case, culture. Here ill refresh your memory. I said, "A loss of hearth culture occurs."

note: you may not find the right definition for 'hearth' in the dictionary. Only defs. about stoves and brick fireplaces etc, so instead of trying to look it up, (heres an idea) research it!
airing it
   Tuesday, March 04, 2003 at 01:00:56 (PST)    [4.47.50.130]

[Oh jeez, another snitty poster brimming with arrogance because he/she has attained her basic education. [sighing profoundly and rolling eyes while taking a sip of coffee] We referred to a dictionary merely to correct your own idiosyncratic definitions. We still see no reason to take you as an authority on anything, so we will stick with our usage of acculturate. Go back and re-read your posts. Notice the many errors. Notice the incoherence. Notice the failed effort at affecting an arch and condescending tone. Free tip: acquire basic respect for others. That will take you much further than your basic degree in an arcane area. --Ed]
true brother:

Although you articulate your point well, your facts are not historically accurate. I think you would be well served by a lengthy look into the world of Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History Of Multicultural America. I am not trying to ridicule you, just expand interest in multiculturism. Which can be at times a torrid expedition through the bleak and haunted past of America and their (American Government) self proclaimed quest of manifest destiny. The point is that if you are going to spout off about American History make sure you know whether what you are saying is accurate or not.

Side note to the author: Before you post your next article make sure the words you are using are defined correctly.

ACCULTURATION-
1. The modification of the culture of a group or individual as a result of contact with a different culture. In which a loss of the hearth culture occurs.
2. The process by which the culture of a particular society is instilled in a human from infancy onward.

What the author defines as acculturation is actually assimilation. Dont take my word for it. Ask a cultural geographer, a social scientist or a dictionary.
airing it
   Monday, February 17, 2003 at 01:01:21 (PST)    [4.46.44.24]

[You seem to have a knack for adding to/modifying dictionary definitions to suit your somewhat skewed view. The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed, gives the primary definition of acculturation as: "The modification of the culture of a group or individual as a result of contact with a different culture." Notice it says "modification", not "loss" or "extinction".
Just a sidenote: make sure you know what you're talking about before presuming to correct others. --Ed]

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