Is the term "Asian American" fading into history, like "Oriental" before it?

Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 09:30 am
Is the term "Asian American" fading into history, like "Oriental" before it?
By Stephen Magagnini | The Sacramento Bee

As Sacramento's growing Asian immigrant communities celebrated Sunday's Pacific Rim Street Fest, a growing number note that Asian American isn't a race and said they choose to identify by their ethnicity.

Robbie Mae Lopez and her family came downtown to enjoy more than 15 Asian cultures represented " but don't call her Asian American.

"I'm full-blooded Filipino American," said Mae Lopez, 27, of West Sacramento. "Asian American is kind of a loose term. I think being Filipino American is a full-blown identity crisis itself. We were were overrun by the Japanese, Spanish … ."

As the race question on the U.S. census form has expanded to 15 categories and write-in options " giving Americans the right to check as many boxes as they want " fewer are embracing the term Asian American.

It still holds currency for local civil rights activists Jerry Chong and Alice Wong.

"There are so many Asian ethnicities, the term Asian American still gives us a sense of unity, solidarity and identity," said Chong, legal counsel for CAPITAL (Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy & Leadership), an umbrella group for several dozen organizations.

"To break ethnicity down into the various subgroups works against the collective voice the greater community needs," Wong said. "When you look at our history, culture and language, there are a lot of similarities."

They include emphasis on hard work, education and family values, Chong said.

Linda Ng, a Hong Kong immigrant who's treasurer of the national Organization of Chinese Americans, said she's proud to be an American. She added it's often hard for Asian Americans themselves to differentiate by ethnicity "in a sea of Asians."

Chong, 65, grew up in San Francisco's Chinatown when virtually all Asian immigrants were called Orientals " a term that fell out of favor because it was associated with European imperialism and conjured up cinematic racial stereotypes.

"I was around when they coined the word Asian American," Chong recalled.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/05/24/94684/asian-american-may-be-out-of-vogue.html#ixzz0orS68uE0
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failures art
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 09:00 pm
I prefer Asian-American. I totally agree about the point of bringing groups together instead of dividing up. I don't think that a person's ethnicity is diluted in that process.

I do dislike the term oriental, though.

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Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 09:22 pm
I still have an oriental cookbook, by ortho. (I gave it away, and bought one again, as I missed it.) Ortho and Oriental in a sentence, there ya go. But, that is a book I still refer to, once in a while.

I was raised around an aunt who used to rail against japs. She had her reasons, husband dying just after getting a Douglas plane into production in 44, or was it 45.

What is interesting to me now, decades later, is that I don't remember any of that from my parents, and my father was up there in WWII efforts.

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failures art
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 10:38 pm
I think the thing here is that Asia has with it some many cultures. It's comparable to central and south America. However in central and south America, you'll see primarily two languages and a predominantly catholic culture, in Asia, you see dozens of languages and many many religions. The Asian-American identity is anything but homogeneous, but it is good in my mind in terms of burying older cultural and ethnic grudges.

I'm Japanese, and the Japanese did many terrible things to many Asian nations. I will still get dirty looks from my Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese friend's grandparents. Having an identity that unites us is better IMO.

Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 10:01 am
@failures art,
My best friend at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor was Tazaco Tsagawa. We both were 13 years old. I loved her family and was so angry they were sent to the camps. I wrote a letter in 1997 to the editor of a major newspaper about what happened to my friends. It was published on the front page. They interviewed me and included my photo. I guess they thought I was different from most American's opinions. If you would like to read the story, I can provide it.

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