I received Eddie Huang's Fresh Off the Boat for Christmas and realized something I had not known about myself.

The problem is that the "Asian American community" doesn't really exist, at least not yet. You have disparate groups of Asian Americans, most of whom have immigrated only very recently after the racist immigration quotas were lifted in the 1960s. So what do you end up with? A "community" of Japanese Americans who've been here long enough to go through internment camps, Chinese Americans who escaped the Cultural Revolution, wealthy Hong Kongers who travelled via private jet to the U.S., Vietnamese refugees, Korean small businesspeople who pooled everything they had in the old country to buy a liquor store in the less safe parts of L.A., etc. And this isn't even factoring the historical animosities and grievances that these ethnicities have against each other.

It's really hard to form a community out of that, especially when you lack time and numbers. So what happens is that Asian Americans start factionalizing: they either identify as their ethnicity (e.g. Korean American), or with white people (because this is what society tells us to aspire to be). Other minorities, including other Asian Americans, are looked down upon and/or distrusted.

But identifying solely by your ethnicity that comprises a tiny minority in the U.S. can be stifling, especially if you have troubled relations with your parents (who themselves are afflicted with Immigrant Time Warp). Thus, many Asian Americans grow to disdain the claustrophobic "Asian" world they live in and try to "rebel" by completely acquiescing to social pressures and whitewashing themselves.

When I look at Black American culture or Latino American culture, I see them thriving because those within it have a lot to lose should they "sell out" and aspire for Whiteness. But with Asian American culture, there is nothing to lose and almost everything to gain for someone who wants to opt out. And that is because there really isn't any Asian American culture to begin with.

That's our mission as young Asian Americans: to build a healthy and strong Asian American community. I'm not saying that we should completely segregate ourselves and become Asian nationalists. But we should build an identity for ourselves so that we aren't constantly apologizing for who we are and trying to seek acceptance from others at the expense of accepting ourselves.

One of the things that make me happiest is seeing inter-ethnic Asian American relationships. Like a Korean-Thai couple, or a Vietnamese-Filipino. It represents both the American ideal of looking past group boundaries, but also the realization of common bonds across all Asian ethnicities in America. I don't think dating/marrying White people is any more progressive or groundbreaking than strictly staying within your ethnicity.

/r/asianamerican Thread