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It seems the web browser you're using doesn't support some of the features of this site. For the best experience, we recommend using a modern browser that supports the features of this website. An overview essay on Asian Americans, including identity issues perceptions and misperceptions, use of terminology, understanding demographics, and the extreme diversity contained within the term.
The growth and diversification of the Asian American population in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Driven by sustained immigration and refugee resettlement during the s and s, Asian Americans have emerged as the nation's fastest growing racial group. Given that the school-age Asian American population doubled in the s and is expected to double again between andour schools and the larger society must confront some critical questions. For example, what do we know and what can we teach and learn about Asian Americans?
Asian Americans more than The diversity of Asian Americans, in terms of their various languages, cultures, and histories is remarkable. Furthermore, within a single nationality, there are ificant differences in regional dialect, religion, class background, educational level, and political perspective as well as distinctions based on generation, gender, and lifestyle orientation. Two Filipinos, for example, may have to communicate with each other in English because one's native language is Tagalog while the other's is Ilocano.
In a group of Chinese, one may have come from rural China, another from cosmopolitan Hong Kong, a third from war-torn Vietnam, a fourth from Jamaica, and a fifth from Ohio—each with obviously distinct stories to share. Among three South Asian Indians, one may be a granddaughter of early Sikh immigrant farmworkers in California, another may be a university-educated Hindu who came to the United States originally as a foreign student, and the third may be a Guyanese-born store owner in Mississippi who attends a Baptist church.
Furthermore, thousands of Asian children, particularly from Korea, have been adopted by families in the United States who may not be Asian American themselves. One may see, for example, a recently arrived Vietnamese Amerasian teenager who looks just like his African American father but speaks only Vietnamese or a Korean adoptee who may look obviously Asian but might be named Susan Williams. There are critical distinctions between refugees and immigrants.
Refugees are recognized as people who have been forced to leave their homelands because of well-founded fears or threats of persecution due to their background—their religious or political affiliation, for example. Refugees have typically suffered severe trauma, lost family members, and languished in refugee camps before coming to the United States.
Unlike many immigrants, refugees leave their homelands without hopes or plans to return again. Nevertheless, once here, Southeast Asian refugees share many experiences in common with other immigrants, such as the language barrier, culture shock, racial discrimination, and the challenge of starting new lives. Themes of work, family responsibility, generational change, community development, and investment in education link Southeast Asians to other Asian American groups, in spite of important social, cultural, and historical differences. The process of defining who are Asian Americans is, in itself, a lesson in diversity and critical thinking with social, historical, and political dimensions.
The term "Asian American" is preferable to "Oriental," which connotes rugs, spices, and other objects of western colonialism in Asia rather than people. The "Orient," after all, is a concept generated by the colonial experience.
In contrast, the continent of Asia is an actual geographic location from which many people in the United States trace their origins.
Confounding the situation further are the stereotypes and distorted depictions of Asian Americans in movies, television, advertising, cartoons, and other media as well as school textbooks and children's literature. Inthe Asian American Journalists Association released a study, titled "Project Zinger: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," which documented a wide range of stereotypic depictions of Asian Americans in print media from around the country. Yet, these pervasive stereotypes continue to shape how many parents, teachers, administrators, and students perceive Asian Americans, and how Asian Americans often view themselves.
Unsupported Browser Detected. Understanding Our Perceptions of Asian Americans. A waitress asked: "Where are you from? My grandfather was a tailor in Oakland and my mother was born in Stockton. And the waitress interrupted and without any hesitation said: "So how do you like your new country? Then he said: "You Koreans charge too much. He says: "You Koreans rip us off. Author: Peter N. You Might Also Like. From climate change to human rights to education, we offer our personal recommendations to the president-elect.
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