The term Asian American was derived in the 70’s when political activists coined the term as a way of uniting the then relatively small number of Americans of Asian descent in the United States. While it largely succeeded in giving greater voice to a divergent group of people, some fear it has backfired in failing to recognize the diversity and uniqueness within the Asian American community.
In the blog JadeSandwich, Jade Park writes, “Korean Americans are very different from other Asian Americans. In fact every ethnic group of Americans – be it Chinese American, Japanese American, Filipino American, etc. – is similar yet vastly different from each other because each group inherited a background from different countries that have very different languages, cultures, mindsets, and histories.”
Park finds it annoying that some non-Asians see all Asians as one and the same. She bluntly states, “I mean, how the hell does the hanbok I’m wearing look like a geisha’s kimono? And why does it have to be a stinking geisha’s? Why the hell is it weird if I don’t like sushi? It’s not my cultural food! How am I supposed to know what that says in Chinese? I’m not Chinese!”
In recent years, the pendulum has swung politically as Asian American subgroups have demanded that data gathered about Asian Americans be disaggregated so as to recognize these differences.
What do you think? Has the term Asian Americans outlived its usefulness? If you are a member of an Asian subgroup, do you identify as an Asian American? Read the JadeSandwich blog, then let us know what you think.