Asian American

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Reflections in a Foreign Mirror After reading the novels assigned in this Asian American class, it seems that many Asian American experiences are similar. One similarity that is outstandingly prominent is how an outside culture impacts either directly or indirectly a foreign society. Often, the influences of the powerful yet glamorous American lifestyle lead to self-hatred of one's own society and culture. We see this in "Obasan," by Joy Kogawa, and in "Dogeaters," by Jessica Hagedorn, where many of the characters cease to acknowledge their own identity by living vicariously through movies, music and other American influences. In this essay, I will compare and contrast the portrayals of this self-hatred, and analyze how America influences it. I will also discuss resolutions, or escapes that these characters use to counteract this self-hatred. Self-hatred of the Filipino heritage is demonstrated throughout the novel "Dogeaters," which bases many of its circumstances on factual statistics of the Philippines. The history of the Philippines allows us to see the roots of their self-hatred. For instance, the four hundred year long colonization of the Philippines by Spain and other foreign countries led to oppression and self-hatred of Filipino culture. Even the title of the book, "Dogeaters," amplifies a common American stereotype of Filipinos, suggesting that Filipino people are uncivilized and even animalistic. By being exposed to negative stereotypes and oppression for such a long duration, shame and self-hatred are inevitable. We see this with the narrator, Rio who is a sensitive young girl growing up in the Philippines. She narrates the first scene in the movie theater: "I am powerless, I am only ten years old. I remembered ... ... middle of paper ... ... find it is hard to appreciate my own Chinese customs because I am lingered to the sweet domineering customs of America. Much like Stephen and Pucha, I feel as though if I could just be more American in the way I act, dress, eat and talk, I will be happy. However, having been fortunate enough to grasp such patterns, perspectives and problems through these novels and through lecture, I feel enlightened, although the preservation of Asian culture and custom and the fear of its extinction is still a very real issue in the Asian American community today. Hopefully one day we will be able to strike a balance between cultures and live in harmony. Bibliography Hagedorn, Jessica, Dogeaters, Penguin Books, 1990 Kogawa, Joy, Obasan, Anchor Books, 1981. Miller, Roy, Japan's Modern Myth, Weatherhill, 1982.

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