Friday, February 1, 2008

My America/Class Discussion

From the class discussion today, what I took away as a question to ask myself was: there may be doubts as to whether what we have here in America is “authentic Asian,” but what about the second half of the term “Asian-American?” Can we say that what we have is also “authentic American?” (This also brings up the question of what exactly American culture itself is….) What apart from the geographical distance from the mainland makes Asian-Americans “Asian-Americans?” 

There were people in class who spoke of the distorted media portrayal of Asian-ness, and yet even in Korean, for example, I would think that the way in which especially younger generations perceive of and understand their own culture is greatly influenced by what is portrayed as being “Korean” by the media. In the same way, the popular representation of what is “Asian-American” by the US media may admittedly be a form of greedy commercialization and/or simplistic stereotyping, but it can also provide a means by which Asian America defines itself - as something to work with or to fight against vehemently. This may even play a role in the identity of Asian-Americans as a minority group banded together against the exploitation and mishandling by the dominantly white media.

The main difference in the commercialization in Asia and America is that in the US, those who do the portraying are white, or at least not Asian-Americans. This is where Renee’s “My America” comes in. It appears to me that a large part of being an active, or socially and politically conscious, Asian-American is to recognize the minority status of Asian-Americans in the vast background of white America. At least, that seemed to be implied with the focus on several activists and one of whom worked closely with Malcolm X. So it would be interesting to study exactly how the Asian/American cultural fusion and the Asian-Americans’ rejection of the white majority simultaneously have been and will continue to work out to maintain a delicate equilibrium of Asian-American identity.

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