Tuesday, May 26, 2009

i am half asian
i joined an asian organization
so that i could feel accepted, finally
truth is, i've never felt more rejected


  1. there are hapa organizations on many campuses, but i guess your school doesnt have one. maybe it's time you form one!

  2. I know EXACTLY how this person feels. Being half-Asian is one of the most difficult things for me to go through in life. Neither side of my ethnicity accept me, and I feel I have no cultural identity. I'm perpetually The Other. My heart goes out to this person. I accept you.

  3. Try being half Chinese and not even looking like you have a drop of it in you unless your head is turned *just so*. Maddening. Welcome to the "Other" club.

  4. I'm fully Chinese, and I feel uncomfortable in big asian focused groups. Hang out in a group that does something, not in a group brought together by some arbitrary heritage.

  5. I feel you.

    For me it didn't seem so hard to belong until I realized that because I "didn't look Asian" they didn't consider me Asian. Despite the number of times I told them my background and the fact I was more into my heritage than these trust fund babies who don't even give a crap and just join organizations to meet hot Asian dudes.

  6. My experience was gquite the opposite. I found that it was mostly a generational issue when I joined some different student orgs. I am Hapa (Chinese-white), but most people think I look white or possibly latino. What I found was that the organizations that were mostly 2nd generation or later born and raised in America were easier to relate with - but this makes total sense because I was born and raised in America too and I have a lot of things that I can relate to with them.

    Once I realized this I actually stayed in all of the organizations, including the ones that were more immigrant, first or 1.5 generation Asians just because I was curious and wanted to understand that culture better. But I realized that my initial feeling of awkwardness had more to do with my generation than with my being half white.

    In some of the organizations there were people who were not Asian at all or of a different ethnic group than the org (for instance a japanese american in the Pilipino club), but they were there because they already had several friends in the group or simply because they were adventurous and wanted to learn about other cultures. And I'm sure that there were many pure Asians who came to check out these same orgs and decided it was not for them. So I don't think it has as much to do with race or ethnicity as you think it does.

    I think if you go to any group waiting to be accepted by them, you will feel awkwardness and self consciousness. But it doesn't necessarily mean that you stand out or apart from them for the reason that you think you do.

    Besides, acceptance comes from inside yourself, not from anyone else. If you accept yourself and you accept and approach others with an open heart and open mind, you can move between and across social and cultural boundaries with much more ease and comfort than anyone else thinks possible.

  7. As a hapa and an Asian American studies minor, I sympathyze. I don't feel full-blooded Asians discriminate, but it is hard to fit in. Although I studied AAST to learn more about my heritage, sometimes I feel like I learn more about my distance from that heritage. I genuinely want to embrace it, but the way I was raised is so different from so many Asians, and whiteness is hard to deny.

  8. I think it's easy to say that acceptance should come from within yourself and that belonging to a group is an arbitrary desire. But it's not really about acceptance in the end. It's about not being connected to your roots.

    Being an Asian-American is hard enough, but having mixed heritage is even harder. To know who who you are, you need to know where you come from. To feel grounded, you need to have roots.

    As a hapa, it's not that I feel discriminated against. It's that I see how far away I am from my heritage whenever I am around Asians. And it feels like learning to swim without any instructor to try and get back to it. And it often feels as though, no matter how much I learn, how fluent I become, how long I live in the native land, there will always be a divide between me and the culture my family has carried for generations.

  9. It's not just hapas, but it happens to all "white-washed" Asians who can't speak the native tongue. If you're in a Asian student org and they have things like Karaoke nights singing pop songs from Taiwan, Korea and/or Japan while you have never even heard of them before due to your white upbringing, then you will feel alienated. If they have kids who can speak the language, they will want to use it in the club. If you can't, then you will feel left out. It's not about you being hapa or not - some of the kids most involved in Asian student clubs are hapas. But the difference being that they were usually hapas raised in an Asian country.

    Chinese/Korean/Japanese student clubs in College were first formed by foreign students wanting to socialize and help each other in a strange land. It is not until recent 10/20 years that the native born Asians and hapas are joining the clubs too. Yes, they will always left out.

    For example, one of the function of the Taiwanese student association in quite a few major universities is to pick up the latest students from Taiwan from the airport and help them settle in. This is something native born or "white-washed" Asian kids in the same club would not dream to do - they see the club like how a white student see their own social clubs. When the same group of Taiwanese students gather in another students home to make dumpling or eat hotpot, those ABCs and hapas are NOT going to feel at home. When they gather to watch Videos of Taiwanese TV shows, they are not going to even understand it, much less laugh at another self-centered antics of Little S. When other Taiwanese student start belting out songs by Jay Chou, the ABCs and Hapas just want to get the hell out of. There's really no way to get around this. Perhaps the ABCs should form their own clubs, not limited to Asian ethnic groups like "Asian-American student association" where everyone can talk about their Asian-Hipsterness and rant about the latest Angry Asian Man postings. Leave the ethnic clubs to the foreign students who really need them.

  10. Wow... that's terrible. I go to a API queer group on campus, and there is a hapa or two (one is a coordinator). I'm not a hapa, but sometimes I go with my girlfriend, who is white, and she feels loved and welcomed. It's never been an issue. I'm full Vietnamese, but grew up in a mostly white/Latino suburban, soccer-momish town. So I feel like I would never fit into the school's Vietnamese Student Association, who I feel are more closely tied with their community, probably speak the language, etc. So I agree with the comment above, I think it has more to do with how "white-washed" groups are or aren't, for lack of a better term. The API queer group, for example, is more open and less likely to have foreign born students, who, from my own observations, tend to be little more conservative. Not saying it's a good thing, because I know there are foreign born API queer students on campus who probably don't go because they don't feel welcomed... I don't know how to make people more welcomed? It seems like similar issues are in most ethnic clubs.


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