22 Pages

Neither Real Americans nor Real Asians?

Multigeneration Asian Ethnics Navigating the Terrain of Authenticity
WithMia Tuan

This chapter explores the “authenticity dilemma” confronting Asian ethnics and discusses how they negotiate a social terrain where others define them as neither real Americans nor real Asians. It argues that Asian ethnics have and continue to actively struggle against the stereotypical labels others impose on them. To explore the authenticity dilemma confronting Asian ethnics, the chapter draws from interviews gathered for a larger study conducted on the middle class Asian ethnic experience. Today, Asian ethnics exercise a great deal of choice regarding the elements of traditional ethnic culture they wish to incorporate or do away with in their personal lives. They befriend whom they please, date and marry whom they please, choose the careers they please, and pursue further knowledge about their cultural heritage if they please. Being ethnic remains a societal expectation for Asian ethnics despite how far removed they are from their immigrant roots or how much they differ from their foreign-born counterparts.