By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
As much as we as Asian Americans like to talk about diversity, Asian America can be a very exclusive club to some.
Those who don’t happen to be East Asian can feel excluded from the larger Asian American experience.
A group of students at Stanford recently criticized the school’s Asian American Studies program of not being more inclusive of the experience of South Asians and Pacific Islanders.
There are some Pacific Islanders who insist they have nothing in common with the Asian American experience and totally reject the idea of being part of the larger AAPI community.
South Asian Americans have long complained they don’t feel welcomed in organizations that are supposedly for Asian Americans, but are comprised of mostly Chinese, Japanese and Koreans.
Hapas as well, can be made to feel they’re not Asian enough.
The video from College Humor Are You Asian Enough touched on some of those themes and has generated nearly 1.9 million views since October.
Recently students at Swarthmore held what they called a teahouse discussion on these themes.
“I was interested in having this teahouse because I think one of the biggest problems with a lot of Asian groups on campus or Asian communities is that they become very homogeneous,” Charlotte Iwasaki ‘18 said to the Daily Gazette. “A lot of people don’t feel included in them necessarily.”
Does your appearance make you more Asian than another person. I recently heard someone of mixed race heritage describe herself as living as White. She personally identified as Latino, but acknowledged she looked more White and most of her White friends did not realize she was Latino. I imagine many hapas may feel the same way.
My nephew is hapa. He has blonde hair but Asian eyes. His parents have put him in an after school Mandarin program. He goes out to eat with his Chinese grandma in mostly Chinese restaurants weekly, if not twice a week. He’s only in first grade, but will he grow up identifying as Asian, White or hapa? Is there a hapa identity or does one have to choose between their bi-cultures?
I don’t know the answers to that, but I’d like to hear what hapas in our readership think.
What I do know is that the Asian American Pacific Islander experience encompasses the East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, hapa and Pacific Islander communities. Whether you choose to be a part of the larger AAPI community is up to you. Only one in four Asian American Pacific Islanders identify as AAPI. For those who do identify as AAPI, it’s important you be as inclusive as possible and make everyone feel welcomed.
AsAmNews has tried to incorporate Pan Asian views in its coverage. We’ve succeeded in some area and fallen short in others. We’re trying and we want to get better. Let us know how you feel. We’d love to hear from you.
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