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Asians

Essay by   •  December 18, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,579 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,774 Views

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I. IntroductionTitle

The purpose of this paper is to examine the Asian culture and to heighten the awareness of what the Asian culture entails. For many of us, when we sit down to watch a television show, we often times do not notice Asians or there are no Asians on the show altogether . When Asians are represented in the media, the portrayal is often not representative of the population. When Americans think of Asians, we think of the Joy Luck Club (1993), Kung - Fu Experts like Bruce Lee or super intelligent roles like Dr. Christina Yang (Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy). While each of these roles may be either correct or incorrect, they give a definite perception that Asians don't like anyone outside of their culture, will kick your butt and are definitely smarter than you . Of course, this is something that almost all minority groups deal with. For example, African Americans are often times portrayed as bad, scary thugs who rob old ladies and will kill you in the middle out the night for twenty dollars. Another example would be how Puerto Ricans are almost always portrayed in media as being either a gang-banger or a previous gang-banger turned police officer.

According to a study by Barker, (1997) conducted research where British Asian and Afro-Caribbean teenage females were asked about their feelings about the portrayal of Asians in select popular television shows/ soap operas . These teenagers felt that the representation of specific characters that were in these shows were not representative of them. While Barker (1997) suggests that these teenagers were stuck in a cross cut culture or instead of the television shows being not representative of them, they were not being representative of their own ethnicities. The teenagers talked about the particular actresses style of dress (she had a form of a sari on) and how they would not be caught wearing that particular piece of clothing. However, just because someone does not want to wear ethnic clothing representative of their race, does this make them confused or unrepresentative of their own ethnicity? According to Barker, teenagers from other ethnic backgrounds who live in places other than their ethnic homeland eventually become confused as to how they are supposed to portray themselves. What this research did not delve into was how the parents felt about their children rejecting Asian culture to be more like the British culture. One interesting aspect of the research was that the Asian teenagers didn't feel that this was representative of their culture in any way, so Barker may have been incorrect in assuming that the teenagers felt this way, because maybe the parent s felt this way as well and instead of the teenagers having the identity crisis, the parents instead are having an identity crisis. Therefore if the parents do not teach their children about the Asian culture, how will the children know in the first place?

Another example worth noting is famed Eric Liu, author of the "Accidental Asian" (Chang, 1998), who was made famous for his educational endeavors; such as writing speeches for President Clinton, being a Yale graduate and also attending Harvard Law School. He is the son of Chinese immigrants from Taiwan but has never embraced his ethnic background instead he rejects it and publicly so. "He states that he does not feel Asian American and that being Asian American is a choice, not a requirement" (Chang, 1998, p.68). Statistics show that about half of all Asian Americans intermarry and Liu was no exception to this statistic, he married a white woman (Chang, 1998). Chang, (1998) also states in this article that their lineage - the hard working parents are what they are taught to be ashamed of, to try to "fit in" with the Caucasian world the best they can.

II. Asian Culture vs. American Culture on Individuality

In American culture, we are always encouraged to be an individual, don't be a follower, and be a leader. However, is being an individual encouraged everywhere? According to Kim and Markus (1999) in certain countries such as China, Korea and Japan uniqueness is looked down upon and conformity is encouraged. The need to feel independent of others is looked upon as a form of deviance, an immature and unnatural act. The word conformity in the American dictionary states to have "similarity in form and character" while in the Korean language conformity means, "to have inner strength and maturity" (Kim, H. & Markus, H.R., 1999). Even how Americans and Asians raise their children are in accordance to how we feel about uniqueness. Americans raise their children to be unique, to learn how to do things on our own while Asians raise their children to be obedient to elders, follow tradition and to always follow social norms (Kim, H. & Markus, H.R., 1999).

According to Kashima, Y. et al. (2005) in the most recent study, he tries to figure out whether individuals are perceived to be more real than groups universally. In his research, he presented several students of different backgrounds to a specific problem where the students were asked to identify the either the person or group doing the wrongful act. In most cases, the American students identified the sole person as doing the wrongful act while the Asian students identified the group as doing the wrongful act. However, his questionnaire that was formatted to show whether or not individuals were perceived to be more real than groups, had results that shown even the Asian students felt that individuals were more real than groups. The only country that students originated from that did not share this perception were the students from Australia. However, some limitations were noticed while looking at this particular study, as mentioned earlier in this paper the difficulties that Asians face when living in America, maybe they were just conforming to the individual perception because that was a part of conforming because everyone else in the room was leaning towards individual perception as opposed to group perception.

According to a different study by Kashima, Y. et al. (2004) "Westerners self-concepts are less variable across social contexts (independent self-construal) than East Asian self-concepts (interdependent self-construal)"(p.127). It is true that as in determining what the context self is, we must determine what the definition of the context self is, as described in the Kashima, Y. et al. (2004) study, the context self is equal to the phenomenal self. This can be better described as the ability to change forms or personas to be more like the person whose presence you are in. For example, we may act differently when eating dinner with our mother than how we would act with a first date or a group of friends from

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