29 May 2008

Nu Asian

"Over the past 18 years, an entire generation of Asian Americans has come of age. And while the world that they've inherited has been radically transformed, the dialogue we're engaged in around what it means to be Asian American has remained frozen in place -- obsessed with issues and ideas that aren't just out of sync with the next generation's interests and priorities, but completely out of touch with their reality.

My generation bristled at any implication of foreignness -- we were Asian American, accent on the second word, and we wanted to create a hard distinction between our native culture and identity and that of our overseas ancestors. We took defiant pride in our ability to speak fluently without a trace of ethnic taint. And we were so deeply wounded by the thoughtless schoolyard chants of childhood that any media image that isn't dominant and heroic and handsome still feels to us like a punch in the gut, a reminder of finger-slanted eyes and bucked-out teeth.

This current generation, on the other hand, has flipped the polarity of our identity. They're Asian American -- American being a given, an understanding, while Asianness is their source of distinction and, more often than not, pride."
-Jeff Yang, The Ides of May-