Recent, tragic events have brought more attention to hate and bias crimes against Asian Americans. It is important to address these crimes and prevent them in the future, but the discourse on Asian Americans should not end there. Many non-Asian Americans are unaware or only superficially aware of the vast diversity that exists among us, along with the challenges posed by that diversity. Some have basic knowledge of the immigration and exclusion of Asian Americans, the internment of Japanese Americans which was upheld in Korematsu v. United States, and the “model minority stereotype”, but these are Asian Americans 101. This Essay builds on the national conversation on hate crimes against Asian Americans, using it as a launching point to delve into a number of more nuanced issues: 1. History, creation, and reinforcement of Asian American racial stereotypes; 2. Different racialized experiences of various Asian American groups; 3. Complex and multifaceted dilemmas of identity politics among Asian Americans; and 4. Terminology that people use to describe Asian Americans and the implications thereof. It also argues that using the term “Asian” alone to describe Asian Americans is problematic, even though many (including Asian Americans) do this as shorthand. The Essay argues that “Asian” obscures our diversity, detracts from understanding of complex identity dilemmas, promotes exoticism and fetishization, and marks Asian Americans as “foreigners.” As long as Asian Americans are thought of simply as “Asians”, we will never truly be seen as Americans.
Can “Asians” Truly Be Americans?,
27 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 559
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/crsj/vol27/iss2/8