Asian American who cringes at the term, "Asian"

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #1
    I am what today would be politically correct to call an Asian American, and apparently with no "hyphen". But I am of an older generation that often cringes at the word, "Asian" (boomers and pre-baby boomers).

    Growing up, and seeing perfectly tolerant people of all races call me "Japanese-American" or "Oriental", I didn't find great offense to those terms. Sometime after the 1980s or 1990s, I started seeing a backlash against any "hyphenated" terms so Japanese-American was out, as was Chinese-American and Vietnamese-American.

    Suddenly, the organization I belonged to, the JACL, or Japanese American Citizens League, had a dated name. At the same time, or even before, the term "Oriental" fell out of favor. Now I am called an Asian. Many Americans, whether they are from "Asia" (and later naturalized) or are of "Asian" descent but born in the USA are OK with being called Asian, but usually hail from younger generations.

    To me, I preferred Japanese-American, even with the now offensive hyphenated status, because I consider myself what I am, born in the USA and of Japanese (and Okinawan..Ryukyu Islands) descent.

    But if you take the term of Asian at face value, Asia describes a large area of the world which includes people from all three of the major races. Most of Russia is in Asia, and India is in Asia, Turkey is in Asia, and now I am lumped into a group which includes every color of the rainbow. Our national security council considers (for cultural and geopolitical reasons) Egypt as "West Asia" and puts it into the category of nearby Libya with Iraq, Jordan, Isreal, and Syria among others.

    This is nice in that we are all a part of the human race in west, central, or east Asia. So now, with the culture's values, I am simply Asian even though it could mean I have blond hair and blue eyes and happen to be from Turkey or Russia, or look east Asian as a descendant of Japan or Korea. Or I could be from Egypt in cultural west Asia, or India, and resemble nobody from Turkey or Japan.

    thoughts?
     
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Now you know how African-Americans feel. Aren't they all black?

    No single label can even come close to describing the diversity an area as large as Asia or Africa encompasses. Yet we can't help but categorize people anyway.

    Looks like either way, you're left with a less than satisfactory solution.

    So what to do?
     
  3. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #3
    The left solved this in the nineteenth century,unfortunately the right cottoned on some 100 years later,your a worker not an American.To a Internationalist this is clear,we are all Egyptians,we are all Libyans,we are all Chinese and yes we are all "Asian Americans".The nation state is dead and has been for some time.
     
  4. codymac macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I've never understood it. I don't go around calling myself Scot-American.

    eta: Although I did refer to myself as both "gaijin" and/or "the white menace" when I worked in Japan.
    :)
     
  5. CaoCao macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Somehow people don't realize that Indians are Asians :eek:
     
  6. Pink∆Floyd macrumors 68020

    Pink∆Floyd

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    #6
    Blame it on the government brother, it's how they categorize people

    One example that comes to mind are Jews. I mean, they are not European in any way, yet the government classifies them as "White". Or this kid I know, he's from Croatia, yet to the government he is White... :confused:
    I see where you are coming from.

    Weird stuff
     
  7. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #7
    That's because you never had mainstream America not be able to tell the difference. When you went out in public, nobody expected you to have bagpipes and a kilt. Yet people got confused when they saw an Asian that spoke perfect English.

    "Asian American" was created in reaction to the second class citizenry at the time, not as a attempt to be different.
     
  8. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #8
    People are/were quite capable of categorizing without the government's help. We were clans and tribes long before we were nationalities. It is simply part of our make-up: categorizing what is self vs. other, us vs. them.


    Zactly.
     
  9. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #9
    When I tell people what I am, American, because I was born and raised in America, people still say, "Where are you from?" ;)

    With that I answer, "California, ever heard of it?"

    I don't have the time nor do I have the money to stay in Japan for any extended period of time though I would very much like to. I could get to know my relatives better, and in most cases, meet them for the very first time.

    I am pretty much a stranger to Japanese culture as much as anybody else on these forums (who were not born and raised there). Anybody who has worked and lived there for a few months will know far more than I do about Japan, their culture, different sub-cultures within, and how things change so fast.

    My relatives tell me due to high tech, things are moving so fast that even the Japanese have a very hard time keeping up.
     
  10. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #10
    This begs the bigger question.... Why do we need to categorize people at all?

    Sure, you could call me a Polish-American-Caucasion-Male, or you could call me "Matt" and be done with it.
     
  11. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #11
    Of course there are reasons. What if someone doesn't know your name? How could police ever describe a suspect they may be looking for?
     
  12. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #12
    Europeans have far more in common than the Turks and the Japanese do.
     
  13. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #13
    excellent point

    One day, in the human race, we will find it suitable to go with "Matt", "John", "Jessica", "Jim", etc. We are largely called by our first names anyway, and if not that, just "hey you" works well, too. :)
     
  14. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #14
    "Calling all cars, calling all cars, that dude Matt from Macrumors.com has walked off with another armload of Macbook Pros, again!":eek:
     
  15. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #15
    6'1, looks to be white, appears thin, unshaven :p

    But seriously, of course police will do that. I am talking about stuff like on the census, marking down your "Race" on any government form. Applications. Etc.

    Gets silly.
     
  16. codymac macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Was "African-American" coined for the same purpose?

    In my book, they're simply either American (nationality) or they're not.
     
  17. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #17
    Demographics are important to know for many reasons. Do you really think they aren't?
     
  18. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #18
    Well of course it is in the census, but really, truly, why does a college need to know if a prospective student is "japanese-American" or "white female" or whatever?
     
  19. xlii macrumors 68000

    xlii

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    #19
    When will we just become 'Americans'. I say it's about time. What other country does this? Are there Spanish-Canadians... Asian-Canadians... Asian-Brazilians...

    I've never thought of myself as a Euro-American but I guess that's what they should be calling me.
     
  20. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #20
    Exactly.

    Sure the government might have a good time monitoring how many black/yellow/brown/white/blue people are doing what and where, but WHY?
     
  21. xlii macrumors 68000

    xlii

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    #21
    The only reason is they have quotas. What they want is a racially diverse student body. What that means is that some high school students won't get in... not because their grades or qualifications were not good enough... but because they were not the correct race or gender or from the correct geographical location.
     
  22. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    #22
    Palestinians are actually genetically closer to the Jews of Biblical times than modern Jews are. Modern Jews are usually part European.
     
  23. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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  24. MacVixen macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Racially diverse student body != Quotas. Data is collected for a variety of reasons, but the assumption that is strictly for quota purposes is wrong, and somewhat offensive to me.

    I'm not one to go all out with -American descriptions. Especially because I am biracial. I guess I can call myself a Mexican-African-American? I usually say I'm half Black, half Mexican. I've actually never been comfortable with calling myself African-American. Maybe, like 63dot, I'm just too old for that and was never had any problem with identifying myself as Black. On any forms requesting data I say "other" or "biracial" if available. If only one choice is available to me, then I alternate on Black or White depending on the mood I am in on any given day :)

    It's all very interesting from a politically correct perspective. I work in a office building with probably more than 1,500 employees. No kidding there are maybe 5 Black women, tops, working in this building, and I'm the only one in my department of 80+ people. And yet I see people jump through 20 different hoops trying to describe me without using my skin color. To which I say why describe me as short, brown hair, glasses, etc, when if you just said "She's Black", the other person would be like "OH! I know who you are talking about!". lol.

    Will we ever be able to call ourselves just "American"? I don't know. Maybe when or if this Country ever gets past its racial issues. Certainly there are people out there that I assume I am in my management position because of Quotas, just like there is a belief that any questions about race in schools MUST have to do with fulfilling a quota. I don't believe it to be true in my particular case, but doesn't stop others from thinking it just the same. Until we get past that as a Country then those that consider themselves the minority will want to cling to the beginning identifier.
     
  25. AP_piano295 macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Because it is convenient and easy to identify these people by their obvious ethnicities.

    examples:

    Do you know Jim? the really tall Asian guy whose in your biology class.

    Do you know Tom the short black guy who I hang out with who always wears that white flat brim?

    Do you know Dolley? the short Indian girl whose really good at Organic Chemistry, ask her for help....etc.

    Its simply annoyingly politically correct that some people feel the need to skirt around terms like (Asian, Black, Indian). Lets be reasonable unless you've spent a-lot of time in the east your probably can't tell a Japanese person, from a Chinese from a Korean.

    Unless someone is referring to you as an Asian (or whatever) in a derogatory manner than I would avoid taking offense.

    If I lived in Japan and my friends identified me as "the white guy who won't eat any food wrapped in seaweed" than I wouldn't be bothered by that. Its a fairly accurate description which is in no way malicious.
     

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