Key Series: Why we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans

Read this insightful series by DJ Chuang about why we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans. It is a powerful introduction to many of the conversations we have here at Next Gener.Asian Church.

As DJ writes in his initial series post:

All to say that our American society needs more Asian Americans to be Asian American. It is to say that at this state of the union, we have too few. We certainly don’t have too many. We’d do well to have a few more to stand up and represent. We’d do well to think through and have more robust conversations about what it means to be Asian Americans. We’d do well to allow the richness of our Asian American’ness to overflow and not hide it under a bushel.

The disclaimers DJ writes at the outset are, alone, worth the price of admission:

First, a few disclaimers to minimize the knee-jerk reactions.

To say that we need this is not to say that every Asian American must be Asian American’ish. There is a whole spectrum of people in the Asian American mix. A growing percentage are bi-racial, with Asian and non-Asian ancestry. There are some that are politically very pro-Asian. There are some that are very assimilated into “mainstream America” and don’t have any interaction with an Asian American context. And that’s okay.

Being Asian American as an Asian American isn’t everything. To say that we need this is not to say that an Asian American is only Asian American. We are more than our ancestry, and in a multicultural society and global world, we do well to learn & grow in cross-cultural appreciation for the others.

Being Asian American doesn’t mean being only with Asian Americans. There’s a social dynamic connoted by phrases like “birds of a feather flock together.” Cliques stunt our personal development and limit our ultimate contribution to society and the world. Yet, to have no connection with Asian Americans, something is definitely lost there too.

Being Asian American doesn’t mean nothing. There seems to be a social pressure or default consciousness that to be American is to fit in with the majority. That’s where the institutional structures and power dynamics is to be found. To be a part of the system, you have to work within the system. To change the system would (most likely) take revolution. We’ve already had several of those in American history.

Being Asian American doesn’t mean representing all Asian Americans. To be Asian American doesn’t mean one has to be well-versed and represent all kinds of Asian Americans. It’d be a good first step to have some semblance of understanding of one’s roots. For me, that’s being Chinese American.

Catch up on this blog series by reading through these posts:

4 thoughts on “Key Series: Why we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans”

  1. What about putting the “American” first. As a person of Korean descent, I claim to be AmerAsian. I’m am American first.

  2. Neita – Thanks for dropping by and commenting. As DJ notes in his first post in this series, being Asian American (or AmerAsian) doesn’t mean representing all Asian Americans. The reality is, we’re a diverse group with a broad spectrum of perspectives.

  3. Moving to a quiet, rural Southwestern, nearly all-white city, after having served as a youth pastor for about two decades in various Korean churches in two different metropolitan areas, was an eye-opener for me. First is how little Asian churches are actually connected to its larger community, and second is how this former condition creates somewhat of an insular Christian culture amongst its members. I guess it could be more of a sociological issue than anything else because of the ever-present minority status that is implicit and tacitly acknowledged by the larger culture around it.

    And I don’t think it’s necessary to step outside the bubble to make correct assessments anyway, most of you probably live and breathe in that bubble and you face the issues squarely, where as people like me are looking from outside in (from another bubble) now with a different set of life issues. Whichever is the case, the important issue is for churches to nurture an environment conducive for growth.

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