Friday, May 13, 2011

Wesley Yang speaks for Asian American men

Read Wesley Yang's article in New York magazine, "Paper Tigers: What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?".

Yang is not alone. He brings to light discussions we've been having among ourselves for a long time. We both belong to a generation of Asian American men who are dissatisfied with our identity in American society and culture, and resolved to push back and define our own identity. We've played well by the rules and discovered, as Yang explains, the game is stacked against us. So we'll change the game. We've earned the right. Yang falters in his conclusion but that only reflects the lack of conclusion in our discussions. We're identifying the problem, but we haven't solved it yet. We will, though. We're getting our shit together.

Yang is doing his part to move the ball forward and that's good. Good for Asian American men and good for America. When we've claimed our rightful place, we'll save our country. We're coming, America.

Note that I purposely did not hyphenate "Asian American" in this post, though in the past I spelled the term with a hyphen and despite technically correct grammar. I decided Asian-American implies two nouns co-existing as distinct categories. When the hyphen is removed, American becomes the sole noun while Asian becomes an adjective and no longer a qualifier for American. It's a subtle difference but one I think matters when we define our identity and orientation to country and countrymen. While we respect our varied familial Asian heritages, we identify fully as Americans, not 'other' Americans, marginal Americans, partial Americans, conflicted Americans, or divided Americans. Our flag, children's future, and tribal loyalty are planted permanently within our home and country - America. Asian Americans need to internalize and act out the knowledge that we possess the full rights and privileges, and yes, the full duties and responsibilities, of ownership.



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