It’s Good to be an Asian Today

I’ve been reading a lot of articles since finals week began, on both tornadoes and Asians (the former, I’ll talk about in another post). But Asians – man we are an interesting bunch, with our rice and our CHING CHONG LING LONG TING TONG accents and languages. That’s one reason why it’s nice to be an Asian; I couldn’t imagine speaking in ‘proper’ American English and eating hamburgers, salad and pizza for the majority of my meals. Being white is just boring. Asian-ness is more fun.

But more than that (much more, as I was partly being facetious in my earlier statement), Asians have been in the spotlight lately. From Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to Alexandra Wallace’s YouTube blunder, I do feel that we as a group are being seen. On the other hand, a New York Times feature argues that many Asians are “paper tigers”, hell-bent on the meritocracy of grades and resumes, but achieving little status in the Real World besides earning a living for the next generation. He cites the relative lack of Asian CEO’s as an example. He explains this phenomenon by saying that Asians are trained to be submissive and obeying to superiors, rather than being one who raises his/her voice or deviant in suggestion. By doing this, we become, in essence, integrated and invisible in the fabric of society.

(On a sidenote, maybe God is trying to tell me something – all the Feynman books I’ve been reading also charge me to be creative in thought, and be rebellious.)

Well, that potentially explains why Asians have been invisible thus far, but many other Asian-Americans have a different story to tell. Things are a’changin, and indeed, it IS good to be an Asian today. And not just because of Alexandra Wallace, the rise of China as a superpower, or Chua.

In fact, one only has to look on YouTube.

A partial list of Asian YouTube celebrities: WongFu, KevJumba, Clara C, Jason Chen, Cathy Nguyen, David Choi – among countless others that I haven’t mentioned – is a clear sign that we’ve found our expressions and our media. Some of the stuff I’ve seen or heard from these guys is orders of magnitude better than the mainstream crap I hear from the radio. It is best understood as an Asian expression to American adjustment. We are still Newbies, and better off for it, because maladjusted to both our American environment and our Asian traditions, we form a new counterculture with blends from both.

The thing is though, the new media from this new counterculture is actually good. And as with anything different, it IS being noticed, even if cultural diffusion is slow. I am really looking forward to what some of these guys have to offer later on in their lives. Even moreso, I am looking forward to see how America reacts to it.

But man, thank goodness for social media. It is good to be an Asian today.

P.S. there is a historical precedence for this phenomenon. It’s called jazz.

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