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An Asian American Culture?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:56:36 PM)

he concept of a pan-Asian American identity is questioned by two groups of skeptics: recent immigrants and non-Asians. They point to the lack of a shared culture and the history of conflict among the homelands of Asian immigrants. Most often cited are Japan's recent imperialism against its neighbors and the historical resentment against Chinese domination.
     True enough for Asians in Asia, but these points miss the mark when it comes to Asian Americans.
     Historical animosities are meaningless to Asian Americans who were either born here or who came here at children. And the shared experience of being Asian in America is a strong glue that binds Asians to one another.
     That conclusion begs the question: has this shared identity produced a distinctive Asian American culture shared across the boundaries of ancestral origin?
     To the extent Asian Americans speak an Asian language at all, it is typically our ancestral tongue. Our Asian travels focus on visits to the ancestral homelands. We show a distinct preference for our ancestral cuisines. So where is the shared culture?
     Perhaps the commonalities aren't as obvious as a distinctive cuisine, a traditional dress or colorful rituals, but they are considerable. What AA home doesn't harbor a karaoke machine? What AA family doesn't count its blessings by the number of degrees from elite universities? What AA utility closet isn't jammed with tennis rackets and/or golf clubs? What AA doesn't feel uplifted when another Asian of no matter what national origin distinguishes himself? What AA doesn't gripe about the media portrayals of Asians of no matter what national origin?
     We AA also like one another's cuisines and company, judging by the frequency with which we routinely patronise one another's establishments. Ranch 99 and Yaohan markets, pearl tea shops, pho noodle shops, sushi bars and Corean nightclubs and barbeque restaurants are magnets for Asians of every nationality.
     Do these add up to an Asian American culture? Or are they merely nostalgic remnants of ancestral cultures in the process of slipping away?

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I think that there is a developing Asian-American culture, and one which American-born Asians are particularly apt to consider themselves a part of. As AAs begin to establish roots here in America and move culturally further away from the cultures of their ancestors' homelands, there will be a more pan-Asian feel to the new Asian-American culture.

Just as whites in this country will tend to identify with each other, regardless of whether their respective ancestors were Irish, German, or Italian, Asians in this country will tend to group themselves together based on "look." This is not to say that within an Asian community, the Chinese won't congregate with other Chinese, and Vietnamese won't congregate with other Vietnamese, because they obviously will, but when faced with a predominantly white society, a Vietnamese-American and a Chinese-American likely would more closely identify with each other than they probably would with Vietnamese in Vietnam, or Chinese in China.
"B" as in "bictory"
   Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 02:16:16 (PST)
From what I've seen in NYC, us Asians tend to hang out with other Asians. It doesn't matter that you're not Chinese. It seems as if you're at least Asian, you'd be fine. My friends and I hang out with Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. But, I must admit, the majority of my friends are part of the "Chinese/Cantonese only" crowd. So, I guess, it depends on the people that you're around.

Also, the "Cantonese only" crowd tends to differ significantly from the "mixed Asian" crowd. The "Cantonese only" crowd tends to be more in-tune with their "Asian-ness." The "mixed Asian" crowd tends to be more open, but they tend to know a lot less about their culture/heritage.

Anyway, that's just my observations. It's interesting to note, though.
   Sunday, December 29, 2002 at 09:24:34 (PST)
To Kaira:

I think that you must discuss this issue with your fiancee at the earliest possible moment. If anything, he should assure you that it will not be an issue and that his parents will accept you as their daughter and a good wife to their beloved son.

However, even if he says that they might be cool to the idea of his marrying outside the culture, you should not allow that to influence your decision on marrying him. If you really and truly love him, and believe that you will make each other happy, regardless of family disapproval, then go for it!

Ultimately, people WILL marry whom they choose, and not who their parents would choose for them. It is up to the parents to adjust to their childrens' decisions. If they are unwilling to accept their childrens' spouses, it is they who will miss out most, not the other way around.
"B" as in "bictory"
   Tuesday, December 24, 2002 at 03:26:29 (PST)
"Geoff DB" and "AMs-wise up!":

I know what you two are saying is the general opinion - and I would have totally agreed with you a few years ago, but...

There is sense in making sure your entire family(and not just who you marry, but the overall structure - parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins) is as, well let's just say, "harmonious" as possible.

I used to totally agree with the idea that what makes you individually happy is the best thing. But now my view is more leaning towards the idea that maintaining a happy family is of utmost importance - so to me, my individual happiness involves ensuring the BEST CHANCES of maintaining one big happy family.

So, if we talk about probabilities, then yes, it is more probable that marrying a woman of the same culture will stand a better chance of maintaining a happy harmonious family.

"AM's- wise up!" states that Asian men need tohave more balls and do what they want with their lives. He also asks why we sacrifice our happiness for our parents old ways?

Well I says that it has nothing to do with balls because in a way, for many of us still, our parents "old ways" are part of our own ways. That is, my happiness is directly linked to the welfare and happiness of the ENTIRE family.

"Geoff DB" says that if we disagree with our families wishes, we will be disinherited. Well, from my own experience money never played a factor in how I feel. My family doesn't have much money (and I'm not being modest here either), and I never expected much money from my family at all. So, my attitude towards happiness is not linked to monetary wealth/reasons at all - and contrary to some people's belief that many Chinese families are based on an inescapable cycle of monetary greed and leaching, I know of many Chinese families where this is not the case.

Let's just say, from a lot my experience, women have come and gone in my life, but my family has always been there. Some of the best memories of my youth are with my family - with my cousins, my parents, my brother, my grandparents, my aunts, and uncles, etc. So my desire for the harmony of my family is just as strong to me - if not stronger - than my selfish individual desires.

That's all I have to say right now. Just saying that if you take of your American glasses for a sec, that is, if you stop viewing old world cultures/values (whether they be an Asian country or someplace else in the world) through the lenses of American culture, you will see why and how these traditional ideas are what they are and how they are still believed. Don't assume that the American ideal of individual self-servedness is necessarily one shared by everyone else in the world.

An by the way, no I am not a Christian (the reason I say explain this would take too long to explain here).
Tradition is Great!
   Tuesday, November 05, 2002 at 03:22:57 (PST)
I have to agree with calm down. Most Asians around here get along pretty well with each other. We usually hang around the same places...go to the same clubs and make the same friends. With later generations...they might be a little more reserved but in general they'd rather their sons or daughters marry other Asians then non-Asians. My cousin is getting married to a woman from Laos and I have a few uncles who are married to Vietnamese women.
Proud 2 b Azn (AM)
   Monday, November 04, 2002 at 00:58:24 (PST)
Most Asians I know do not have this problem. Chinese and Japanese were marrying each other in the USA even when the stigmas of WWII were not a generation removed. The only Asian group who are more firm with this issue I notice are Koreans. But, even they would not object in the end.

Asians, in general are more accepting of intermarriages than other groups. Trust me on this.

In the universities, we have different groups of Asian nationalities joining each others clubs and frats. It ain't even a problem in the later generations.
calm down
   Saturday, November 02, 2002 at 17:41:47 (PST)

I really don't know what to tell you. If you love him enough and really want to be with him then give it a chance...maybe his parents will lighten up later on down the road. Just make sure you let them know that your both your fiance and your intentions are honorable. Let them know that why you would be the right wife for him. Other then that I really wish I could give you better advice.
Proud 2 b Azn (AM)
   Friday, November 01, 2002 at 16:56:35 (PST)
Ok... my fiance is korean and now I'm freaking terrified to marry him. I still haven't met his family. He did tell me that being that I'm not korean (I'm filipino) his parents may not be pleased with that. I love him, but I'd be sad if he had to break away from his family. I've told him that that bothers me, but he says I'm worth it. Now, I'm afraid that I may cause the breakage of his family bond if I marry him. HELP!!!

Kaira    Sunday, October 27, 2002 at 01:50:05 (PDT)
"So the Korean guy dumped the white girl that he loved, because his family wouldn't accept her"

I agree, that's nuts! My oldest sister DEMANDS that I marry a black woman. I tell her yes, if the right one is available at the right time. If I date an Asian, white or Hispanic lady and we develop a long-term relationship leading to marriage, then that's who I'm marrying.

For this guy to agree with his family's wishes and comply with their will does keep him in the fold and I'm sure he'll not be disinherited, but at what cost? He's going to live a miserable life unless the two of them can find a way to fall in love and tolerate each other.
Geoff DB    Friday, August 30, 2002 at 23:10:59 (PDT)
What a depressing story. So the Korean guy dumped the white girl that he loved, because his family wouldn't accept her. "Sorry honey, but you're not Asian". So this girl feels utterly rejected just because of her race. Then he marries an Asian girl to please his family, and this girl will probably pick up on the fact that he's really in love with someone else and only married her because she's Asian. And then the guy is miserable because he missed out on the love of his life. Asian men need to have more balls and do what they want for their lives. Why sacrifice their happiness for their parents old ways of thinking??
AMs- wise up!
   Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 15:45:11 (PDT)
Sorry Laura,
I have a very good Korean friend of mine, he was engaged to be married to a white female, but his family is very tight knit and close. He broke off the engagement, and is now engaged to a Korean girl. His family is super happy...but my friend is not so happy...but yet he does not want to lose his family, so he will marry this girl to please them. Ultimately he is sacrificing his own happiness to please his family. It is only too bad that they do not see this, or if they do see it, that they would care.

I think that I see alot more acceptance of me being a WF with an Asian husband since we have had a child. I seem to notice that. Perhaps Americans, as a society, and especially many white ones, are marked with the reputation of not being serious about marraige..and this could lead some more traditional Asian females to think that we are just playing around with Asian men. The current divorce rate in this country does not help much. Maybe when they see that love is the reason for the union and that a child shows that family is also important..perhaps that relaxes the misconceptions.

I know my husbands grandmother was that way..when she sees what a devoted wife and mother I am and very family oriented...she now likes me, when at first I believe she was extra cautious about me being Caucasian.

I do think your husband showed incredible devotion and love for you. That is a tough situation for you both, and I am glad you have such love for each other.
   Monday, August 26, 2002 at 15:11:42 (PDT)