Asian Ethnic Identity In The United States

Decent Essays

In 2012, Pew Research Center characterized Asian Americans as the “highest-income, best-educated, and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.” However, Asians in the United States weren’t always considered the “model minority.” Early Asian immigrants—who were mostly from Japan, China, India, and a smaller number coming from Korea—in the United States were mostly low-skilled male laborers, concentrated in ethnic ghettos, and were provided no paths to naturalized citizenship (J.Lee and Bean 2010). Scholars point to the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as the keystone moment in Asian immigration that contributed to the current demographic characteristics and assimilation experiences of Asian Americans (J.Lee 2015; …show more content…

As mentioned above, the federal government liberalized immigration policies in 1965 and further allowed refugees from several Southeastern Asian countries to enter the United States in the latter half of the 20th century, which dramatically increased the size of the “Asian” racial group. In addition, the state established the census category of “Asians” as a racial group, which was adopted by other federal, state, and local agencies, firmly establishing “Asian Americans” as how we as a society understand and perceive in contemporary society. Furthermore, Asian Americans themselves became acutely aware of their “racialized Other” status in the eyes of native whites when anti-Asian violence against several ethnic Asians occurred throughout the 1980s (Okamoto 2014; Espritiu 1992). This propelled different Asian ethnic groups, who previously thought of themselves as inherently different from one another, to mobilize together against anti-Asian sentiments and …show more content…

According to his tri-racial order theory, Chinese-, Japanese-, Korean-, Filipino-, and (East) Indian- Americans will achieve the “honorary white” status in the newly emerging racial order, while Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotians will be absorbed into the “collective black” status (Bonilla-Silva 2004; Bonilla-Silva and Glover 2005). He points at the developing distinctions between native-born and foreign-born and between economically successful and unsuccessful Asians as well as the racialized intra-Asian preferences hierarchy to support his argument (see also Saito 1998; Tuan 1998; Moran 2001). An especially notable trend in this is the diverging patterns of economic mobility and success within the Asian group, which shows that the occupational (and consequently, socioeconomic) segregation of Asians as a racial group that once contributed to the development of the pan-Asian identity (Okamoto 2014) is no longer in place to forge a pan-ethnic identification and consciousness. The 2012 Pew Report on Asian Americans also shows that the majority of Asians in the United States does not identify with the pan-Asian label: only 19% of the sample and 22% of the US-born Asians identified as “Asian/Asian

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