“No, where are you actually from?”
These are the two questions that I get asked regularly by non-Asians. I always reply “Well I was born and raised in America but my family comes from Hong Kong.” I grew up constantly being told to take pride in being Chinese, however, I was also consistently told by my family to be proud that I even have the opportunity to grow up in America. There was never a definite answer as to what I was, so I learned to accept both. I am Asian American. Many people have questions about what “Asian American” really means and their questions brought on questions of my own. It was not until recently that Asian American influences became more prominent in my life. I was able to find books, articles, and videos about other ‘Asian Americans’ writing about many different aspects of their lives. Each piece of work has different interpretations of what being ‘Asian American’ means, and has many different components to classify it as ‘Asian American Literature.’
Like Jack from Ken Liu’s “Paper Menagerie,” being Asian American means assimilation of both cultures. There is no universally accepted definition of what being Asian means because many people have different views on who classifies as an Asian. My simple definition of an Asian American is a person with an Asian background in an American environment. He or she is shaped by the American influences around him or her everyday, while also being affected by his or her ancestor’s cultural background. This is exactly what occurs to Jack. His mother is a peasant from China who reluctantly left her home and all her loved ones in search for a better life with an American man. She is isolated from everyone else around her as a result of ...
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...flection of just that, it doesn’t fit into specific guidelines, breaking away from the labels that others create and making its own impact by culturing its readers on being Asian American. Whether the author is Asian American or is solely writing about Asian American culture, it still classifies as Asian American Literature as long as the author is accurate. The race of an author shouldn’t restrict what great pieces of work can teach others about Asian American culture.
Where one is doesn’t change who one is because being Asian American means one gets to experience the best of both worlds. People may be influenced by their surroundings but their background is what makes them who they are. Asian American authors, regardless of their race, should be able tot write about all these experience and share them with others to educate about what it means to be Asian American.
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