For some reason, my Google Reader yesterday had more APIA-related stories that usual. My ears perked - and what I saw were more of the same things I have been seeing for a long time. At this point, I’m not sure if I should be surprised anymore, but I’m certainly frustrated.
Even though the results from “The Rise of Asian Americans” from the Pew Research Center (a study, which, in my opinion, continues the trend of lumping individuals into one category, as well as contributes to stereotypes abt the APIA community), I think the assumption in the article was that all APIAs are the same religion. A lot of my APIA friends identify as Catholic, some Christian, and some Buddhist. Some don’t believe in a particular system. Sure, it might’ve been obvious to me because I am a part of this community, but shouldn’t it also have been obvious to people who aren’t a part of our communities? Religion is something I think a lot more people can grasp because most people are part of communities where there are different religions and spiritualities - even if they disagree with other belief systems, they acknowledge that not everyone in their communities have the same religions. To automatically assume that all APIAs have the same religious or spiritual background is, again, lumping us into one category, thereby denying the idea that we are different in our ethnicities, family backgrounds, and academic representation. I guess the study is telling me (and a lot of other people) what I (we) already know, so why do we need confirmation that we are a diverse group of people? Sure the numbers are interesting, but are they necessary?
This story also cites the Pew Research Center study from above. The people interviewed for the story give legitimate reasons for wanting to move to the US, but the story also contributes to two myths. More opportunities, better education - those are the reasons a lot of people immigrate to the US (and not just Asian immigrants, mind you). First, the story contributes to the idea that all Asians will be a foreigner forever - the “forever foreigner” myth. The last couple of times people asked me where I was from, I was lucky that they accepted my answer without asking me where I was “really” from. (When I was in Amsterdam, one of the guys at the bar assumed I was from Japan. When I said I wasn’t, he asked if I was visiting from China. I told him I was from Portland, then ditched him because I think he was in the throes of a mid-life crisis.) But I know better than to assume that people are generally becoming better at accepting US cities/towns as answers - and part of it is because of stories like this one. Remember, dear friends, that though some of us may be new (or older) immigrants, a lot of us were born in US, too. (If you didn’t catch on to the sarcasm there, I feel for you. A little bit.) Second, Sean Luo, one of the interviewees, said that opportunities are equal in the US - the “equal opportunity” myth:
“No matter who you are, chances (in the United States) are equal for everyone, ” said Luo, adding that as a first-generation American, there have been difficult adjustments.
That to me just isn’t the truth anymore. It hasn’t been the truth for me for a long time. If anything, the myth itself is quickly is eroding because of factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, income level, etc. The idea of equal opportunities isn’t limited to APIAs and our families - it’s spread across a lot of other communities that have immigrated. The questions I always ask when I hear people say the US is full of opportunities are, “Equal opportunities from whom? For everyone, regardless of gender, ethnic background, income level, sexual identity? Certainly not. Equal opportunities for those who are privileged? those who are able to speak up, those who are able to go to school, those who are empowered to do so?”
Here are a couple more stories that caught my eye: