Asian second generation immigrants

When you think about Asian people you might first think about their looks. What do you think an Asian should be look like? black and straight hair, small eyes, skinny body… and what others characteristic they have? most of the time media portray Asian people as intelligent, quiet, not good at speaking English and all knows about Kung Fu. It is a good to know that someone appreciate the Asian culture and see the value in it, but seriously not all the Asian people like this. As an Asian second generation immigrants I always find myself loss of who am I, and what is my self-representation. I don’t usually see the media portray Asian second generation immigrants, but I usually see the media portray in Asian people. Media portrayals might influence other people views and perception of Asian Americans. According to Ponterotto and Pedersen said “The media, in all its forms- print, news, entertainment- has a powerful influence on racial attitude development in the young and the elderly alike. Children, adolescents, and adults’ development perceptions of racial/ ethnic groups consistent with the way members of these groups are portrayed (or not portrayed) in the media.”(p32) There might some images about Asian people that portrayed in media might be is true, but it doesn’t represent as an individual that all the Asian people like that. This can lead to people to have racist and not positive ideas or negative aspects that leads to discrimination. When the media portray Asian characters, it can seriously influence people’s views on Asian people.

Recently, there was a comedy series called Fresh off the Boat by Nahnatchka Khan. This comedy portrayed a Chinese immigration family adjusting American culture and some events and problems about Asian second generation immigrants faced. There were some scenes that I was engaged and it was much related to my experienced in school. When I was watching these scenes, it really liked watching myself through the comedy. For example, there was a scene that during a lunch time an American white boy told an Asian American boy named Eddie to sit with them. After that, he sat and opened his lunch and suddenly everyone at the table stared at him and asked him “what is this?” he answered “Chinese food” during this time everyone faces showed dislike about what he brought, then he had being told “get it out of here.” Finally, Eddie went home and asked his mom “I need white people lunch.” This action represent that an Asian American boy want to be like a American and wish to have the same rights as others and not being differentiated by others native people. In the comedy Eddie who’s American dream is to “fit in” portrayed an image that Asian second generation immigrants wants to be like an American. This reminded me when I was young I brought some Chinese food and everyone showed dislike actions. For me, brought a Chinese food for lunch was very normal because my parents were Chinese and the meal was not preparing by me. Also, I asked the same thing as the scene showed was to ask my mom to prepare some western food. I was engaged about this action and I had the same thought as Eddie that questions about why I was being differentiate by others when I was born at the same country as them. I was trying to change myself to comfort with others because I didn’t want to be alone. I had this kind of experienced many times and it was very unpleasant. When the media portrayed this scene to the audience, American people might get offended because of it portrayed the action of discrimination. On the other hand, it would bring some negative aspects about Asian because the scenes portrayed Asian people assimilating to be an American.

In the American history of Asian Immigrants presented that “White capitalist relied almost exclusive on contractors to provide them with the needed supply of cheap labor.” (Cheng, 1984) “This means that in the past United States was focused on the economy, so they needed more labor especially cheap labor. During this time most of the native people in United States thought that Asian people were taken away their jobs, so it made the relationship between American and Asian people getting worse. Discriminations began in the early days and the media has engaged with it “Throughout three decades prior to the Civil War a barrage of sermons, books, newspaper articles made know to immigrants that their religion, their language, their food and dress, their very existence as willing wage earners were objects of offence and contempt.”(Sexton, 1971) The Asian people image had being set up by the media, so this has influenced people’s views on Asian people from the past until now. Racism and discrimination limited people opportunities on self- improvement and quality of their lives. When Asian second generation immigrants facing racism and discrimination, they would think about what their self-identity are.

Second generation immigrant always face their self-identity and culture. They are not like first generation immigrants who have their own identity; they feel more like a mix between two cultures. I think most of non-white second generation immigrants have being faced some racism and discrimination. I was born in Venezuela but my parents are Chinese when I was young I felt that I never had a home. When I went to China to study they considered me as a foreigner. However, when I was in Venezuela they called me “Chinese” and make jokes on me by calling me “ChingChung” something to do with the sound “ng” I felt really discomfort.

This kind of racism against to Asians can lead to more discrimination. There was a news about San Francisco plane crash: TV station apologizes for broadcasting fake racially offensive pilot names. The report was “Tori Campbell, a presenter on KTVU, a San Francisco Bay Area station, read the fake names on air on Friday. Her report was accompanied with a graphic listing the fake names” she presented the name “They are Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow.” This was a news program and they portrayed off-color jokes on Asian names and those names were not the real name from the victims.

This was a serious case because this was a news program and not only discriminated other’s culture name but also disrespect others people’s race. What was the purpose of this news? Joking others people culture names? or criticizing others culture and think they are more superior? As a news program they didn’t present the basic concept of a news which is being real and reporting without political bias. It is bad to define someone by his or her looks because it will influence others people views on this group of people. America is a country of immigrants and I believe that many people are facing the same problem like me. There were many groups of people that haven’t been portrayed in the media yet. Through the media we can see a country society and culture and we can make comparison between the past and present. The media maybe will show or portrayed things that some people don’t like but at least they can know about the events so that they can make judgments on that. Racism and discrimination lead to victims become depressed and have psychological and mental problems. The media has the responsibility on portray people’s, so instead of making jokes on others people’s culture and focusing on negatives aspects why not portray some positive or cultural aspects they had.

For example, the comedy Fresh Off the Boat has become very popular because of their funny talks and many diverse events happened in the scene. There was a comedy in 1994 called All American Girl which portrayed Margaret Kim a Korean American student facing culture-clashed with her Korean family. This comedy had being cancelled and it wasn’t very popular in the past. By comparing “All American Girl” comedy, today “Fresh Off the Boat” is more popular and the reason it seems that today people are more accepting diverse culture in media. In the past, not many opportunities were being given to others people culture portray in U.S media and there were serious culture aspects such as racisms and discrimination in the society, so it might be difficult to people to accepting others people culture. Today, we have internet and many others advanced technologies, so people can have more opportunities and choices. As the internet is developing, people are more interested and concerned in others culture. By seeing these differences it is not difficult to make some assumptions about people preference. Khan the creator of Fresh Off The Boat said she sees broadcasters’ appetites for diversity increasing“People from the creative to the studios to the networks have been trying to do something like this for years,” Khan said of the current influx of diverse programming. “Now is the time that it’s all coming together. People are diverse. There are all different kinds of Americans. There are audiences to be serviced that aren’t seeing themselves represented or seeing any part of their experience represented.” Now, people have more choices and they are more accepting others culture. “Commercials like the Cheerios spot that featured a mixed-race family. In turn, the influx in opportunities to reach multicultural audiences on broadcast TV is evolving the way marketers are thinking about messaging to both the general market and multicultural audiences, and broadening the job of multicultural agencies.”(Poggy, 2015) Although, racism and discrimination still continued, at least I can see some changes in the media that people now are more accepting others culture in the media. By showing more positive aspects about others culture it will decrease discrimination on others people’s race. This doesn’t mean that they are going to make negatives image to the native people to get comparison between each other. Is more about showing the both positive side of culture aspects.

I had some similarities experiences about this comedy Fresh Off the Boat and I think after watching this comedy I realized that I am not the only person that face those problems. Some people might not have the same experiences like me, but at least they will have some ideas of what should be look like when a person is getting racism or discrimination or ethics. Some people might get offended because what the media portrayed about American students. On the other hand, this comedy is about immigration family adjusting American culture, it may increase multicultural viewers because the audience might get some connection on their experiences. Through the media people’s connection can get closer, and understand other’s people culture. To make the media better, I think it would be great if they can show more about non-white second generation immigrants’ history or culture in the media by portraying their reality of their lives and showing positive aspects instead of joking others countries culture.

Works Cited

Cheng, Lucie, and Edna Bonacich, eds. Labor immigration under capitalism: Asian workers in the United States before World War II. Univ of California Press, 1984.

Holloway, Daniel. “Broadcasters Diversifying Their Empires.” Broadcasting & Cable 145.3 (2015): 29. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 18 May 2015.

Mok, Teresa A. “Getting the Message: Media Images and Stereotypes and their Effect on Asian Americans.” Cultural diversity and mental health 4.3 (1998): 185-202. ProQuest. Web. 18 May 2015.

Poggi, Jeanine. “In Living Color.” Advertising Age 86.6 (2015): 0022. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 18 May 2015.

Ponterotto, Joseph G., and Paul B. Pedersen. Preventing prejudice: A guide for counselors and educators. Sage Publications, Inc, 1993.

Saxton, Alexander. The indispensable enemy: Labor and the anti-Chinese movement in California. Univ of California Press, 1971.

ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat – Trailer. YouTube, 13 May. 2014. Web.<>

Asiana Sues Over ‘Racist’ Names in TV Report. TV Uses Fake ‘Racist’ Pilots Names. YouTube, 15 July. 2013. Web <>

Day In The Life Of An Asian/Ethnic Name. YouTube, 5 Nov. 2014. Web  <>


3 thoughts on “Asian second generation immigrants

  1. Hi Vanessa!!!
    I finally get to read your post! I feel your discomfort despite not being an immigrant. You’re right on the idea that the media shapes the images of groups of people like Asians as a whole. And it doesn’t really define one Asian person individually. This is truly problematic for that individual’s social life and assimilation to the society. Especially as a second generation immigrate, I can see the hardships in being accepted.
    I understand the discrimination that is faced especially with the pronunciation of my name, specifically my last name. Do you still discomfort to this day, since it seems that there are more people accepting cultural differences and acknowledging those unrepresented? I actually got used to it that it doesn’t really bother me because I had a couple people actually listen to me carefully and attentively in order to pronounce it right.
    That television broadcast of Campbell was extremely surprising! Did they ever determine who the real victim names were? Because I would feel terribly sorry for those family who have to listen to this…You are right that she discriminated and disrespected not only these victims or their families, but their ethnicity as well.
    You should re read your blog post again before sending in the final draft because there were a couple minor grammar mistakes. I hope you have a brilliant summer! It was great to actually meet you and hopefully we can talk more about Kpop sometime!

    • Hi, Tiffany,
      Thank you for your response Tiffany ! I am glad that you can make some comments on my post and thank you for telling me about my grammar mistakes. I will check it this week then I will post it again. Also, thank you for asking about me. Now, I had many friends from different cultures, and you are right that people are more likely to accept others people culture, so now I feel great to have many friends. I hope you had a great break ! and It will be great if we can meet together again! feel free to contact me!
      Vanessa Ng

  2. Hey Vanessa!
    First of all, I really liked all of your popular culture artifacts, and pictures. They were all very clear examples that made it super easy to follow along in your essay. The major part of your essay I enjoyed was the section explaining the historical background helping to create these images, because it sets the stage for an explanation on why people’s opportunities were limited. I find it embarrassing to see the way some cultures are treated starting from historical biases, and continued to be downgraded in obvious ways (even in professional settings like the news crew).
    Thank you for your insight on this topic!

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