Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Too Asian To Be ___, Too ___ To Be Asian

I've always held that culture and heritage are tremendously different. Culture is who you (or a people group) identifies as, in the present. Heritage has to do with the history... the past which made your present. Both are important. However, it is important not to mix them up.

One of the greatest sadnesses which I experience as a mentor is when Asian kids are mixed up in the head in this regard. They live an Asian style life amongst a culture which is not their own. They are neither accepted by the surrounding culture nor their hereditary culture.

For my childhood, I was too Asian to be American and too American to be Asian.

It sucked.

This issue at hand leads to so many psychological, if not existential concerns. Asian children are parented to think that performance is everything in life. Good grades means your existence is worthy. See this issue about school again? Ugh....

But, honestly, this barely touches the scope of it. The REAL concern is the culture of shame. Guilt, loss of honor, loss of face... loss.... it's ALL loss, no gain. All negative, no positive. There is rarely ever even a hint of positive reinforcement, rewards, or recognition. There is only shaming. And, this occurs so stereotypically.... with grades.

An Asian kid comes home with a test score. They were the top of their class. Their grade, 99%. Their parents' response?

You're laughing NOW.... but the sad thing is, that this is REALITY for many! Don't think so? Don't really hear about its commonality? That's because it is too SHAMEFUL to talk about it.

This, among so very many other examples of cultural dissonance create an even bigger problem for Millennial Asians. They don't belong...

They don't belong! They don't belong at home. They don't belong at school. They don't belong with friends. And, they don't belong at work. They have no place to call home because home is not loving, accepting, nor welcoming (see the story of Mira Hu who ran from home). It is only tolerant of the fact that they are the highest performing amongst their peers... but, still, that isn't good enough for a pat of the back. Or even, a "good job."

After all, if you compliment your Asian child, "Heaven Forbid" they become prideful, slack, and lose their way. After all, none of that Cognitive Science research means ANYTHING, right? Positive reinforcement works for everyone except for Millennial Asians. *sighs*

Millennial Asians: Too Asian To Be ___, Too ___ To Be Asian.

So what is to be done?

There are some truly valuable and worthwhile aspects of Asian heritage which should be separated from current cultural pressures. How do we do this? What do we do about things like work ethic and honoring the family?

I'll be talking about this and more in up-and-coming posts, here, on the Millennial Asian blog. Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment