I came to the United States with my brother and my parents in 2010 when I was 14 years old. The reason why my parents wanted to move to a whole different country that they couldn’t even speak the language of was simply because they believe in the American dream. They believed that by moving to the United States, there would be a brighter future, especially for my brother and I. They believed that the education system in the United States was better, and there would be more opportunities for us when we grow up. All those reasons above can also apply to other Chinese immigrants families, or at least the ones we’ve known of. My brother and I didn’t like their decision of immigrating, for a very simple reason – we didn’t know anything about the United States. What did we not know about? Many things, we didn’t know much English, we didn’t know about the American culture, we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t know how to live in such a country. But the only thing we could do was to accept it. After we came, we realized that it wasn’t actually that bad, but we also noticed that there were many labels and stereotypes being put on us as second-generation immigrants, or 1.5-generation immigrants as some other people named it. Some are true, and some are simply just wrong. In this essay, I will be discussing about the second-generation immigrants and the 1.5-generation immigrants, how media portray them, and what are some stereotypes that are being put on Asian immigrants, whether they are right or wrong.
As I was immigrated to the United States with my parents at such a young age, I found it easier to adopt into the new environment than my parents did, but I’ve always found trouble with myself fully adopting into the American community as well as the second-generation immigrants community. Since I was born and raised in China, it was hard for me to understand the others who were born and raised in a different country. Our values might be different, and the way we think might be different too. It made me feel like I don’t belong to either the American group, or the second-generation Chinese immigrants group, which is also called the ABC group (American-Born Chinese). Soon I learned that people like me are called 1.5-generation immigrants (the 1.5ers) – the not quiet American or Asian people. In the article The Not-Quiet-American Feeling of Being a 1.5-Generation Immigrant written by Chin Lu on the Vice, Lu interviewed many people like me who are the 1.5ers. One of the interviewees Wendy describes herself as “I was too Americanized for the Taiwanese Student Association, yet too fobby for the Taiwanese American Student Association”.
Some of them find themselves hard to adopt into either one of the two groups, some other find themselves can easily switch between different groups because of they have both background of being Asians and American. Just like how Lu puts it in her article “no one can tell us to be more or less Asian, or to be more or less American, because we’re both”. Being a 1.5er can be a glass half-full or half-empty, because it gives us the option to choose either to fit in to one group, or opt out the other group, or switching between different groups easily.
In comparison, the TV show Fresh Off the Boat also talks about the struggles of Asian immigrant family assimilating into the American culture. It is a TV show based of on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir and his immigrant family. It’s about Eddie’s Chinese family moving from the Chinatown in Washington DC to Orlando, Florida where there are not many Chinese around. The moved all the way for Eddie’s dad – Louis’s American dream, which is to open a cowboy theme restaurant. Louis’s American dream is Eddie’s mom – Jessica’s nightmare, however, they’ve made it through together. Eddie is a kid who’s different than the typical Chinese kids. Eddie is just an average kid, who struggles in school. He likes hip-pop music, and he’s very outgoing. However, he’s also having trouble with assimilating into his classmates. In the trailer of Fresh Off the Boat, there’s a scene where Eddie got invited to join his classmates’ lunch, but as soon as he opens his lunch box of Chinese foods, his classmates say “ewww”. When he got home, he says to his parents “I need White people foods!”
Here is a link of the trailer of the TV show Fresh Off the Boat.
Eddie is a second-generation immigrant, who’s having trouble getting into the American community. Eddie doesn’t fit in with his mostly white new classmates, but he also doesn’t fit with either the society or his parents’ expectations of what a young Asian-American kid should be. Eddie presents a different type of Asian immigrant’s kid, unlike the typical ones, who are usually doing very well academically. Although he was labeled with the Asian stereotypes, he continues to be himself – a boy who likes hip-pop music and basketball. There’s nothing wrong about staying true to yourself, you don’t need to ingratiate other people.
Ever since I’ve been in the United States, I’ve started to hear about the Asian stereotypes, which I’ve never heard of before I came. When I was in high school, I was always labeled as someone who’s smart, and good at math. There’s a good reason for that, because of how the education system is different from the United States to China, we learned different thing. When I was growing up in China, I remember math was a very major subject at school. We practiced many math problems everyday, and our teachers would make us memorized all the formulas. As a result, when I came over to the United States, all of my classmates thought I was a genius, because I knew all the formulas, and I could solve a problem very quickly. The reason why I was “smart” was simply because I’ve learned it before.
Many of the Asian stereotypes hold true on me, such as having strict parents, having good grades, quiet and etc. Just because these stereotypes were true to me, it doesn’t mean they are true to all Asians. People have different personalities regardless of their race. I know smart people who are whites, I know smart people who are blacks, and I also know Asians who are not as smart. There’s nothing wrong with people having different characteristics, but labeling people by their race might be offensive.
In this YouTube video presented by the FungBrosComedy – David and Andrew, different types of Asian stereotypes are discussed.
In the video, many common Asian stereotypes are brought up, such as Asians are bad drivers, Asians are racists, Asians are smart, Asians are loud, Asians are quiet, and etc. While some of these stereotypes are true, there’s always a reason behind. For example, they talk about how people think Asians are bad drivers, but there are different types of Asians too. If this stereotype were to apply on our parents, whom are first-generation immigrants that came to the United States for the first time, of course they would not be familiar with the rules; but if this stereotype was applied on other Asians, it might not be true. Plus, people from different race can be bad drivers too. Another example from the video, they talk about how Asians are loud, and how Asians are quiet, which are pretty contradicting, and don’t make much sense. There are people who are loud and quiet from almost every race. Asians are labeled as loud when they are speaking a “non-English” language, and Asians are labeled as quiet because some people just may not like to talk a lot. I think it is unfair that all Asians get these stereotypes just because a small group of Asians are like this.
David and Andrew also say that “stereotypes have no power, unless you give them power”, toward the end of the video. I think this is very true. There are stereotypes on almost every race, every gender, and every nationality. Whether the stereotypes got applied on you is true or not, you don’t need to be controlled by them. If you are always thinking about how to remove such stereotypes on you, and you care so much about how other people think about you, you are never going to get away from them. So why not just laugh at them, and be who you really are?
In conclusion, there are different stereotypes being put on different group of people, but every group of people can be very dimensional. Everyone has different personalities, one can be outgoing, one can be quiet, one can be smart, and one can be shy. It doesn’t matter which kinds of labels are being put on you, just be who you are, and don’t take stereotypes serious, because stereotypes don’t have power, unless you give them power.
Farley, R. and Alba, R. (2002), The New Second Generation in the United States. International Migration Review, 36: 669–701. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2002.tb00100.x
Lu, C. (2016, April 13). The Not-Quite-American Feeling of Being a 1.5 Generation Immigrant. Retrieved May 02, 2016, from
Monica M. Trieu, Nicholas Vargas & Roberto G. Gonzales (2016) Transnational patterns among Asian American and Latina/o American children of immigrants from Southern California, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42:7, 1177-1198, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1113865
Poniewozik, James. “Review: Fresh Off the Boat Has the Makings of an American Original.” Time. Time, 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 06 May 2016.
Throughout the course of this class, I’ve realized that popular culture is actually everywhere around us. One of the most important things I’ve learned was to analyze information we obtain from sources such as news, TV shows, and magazine, because they are not always right. In fact, a lot of time there’s bias in these articles. There’s certain things the author believes, and he or she wants us as an audience to believe that he or she think. It would be wise for us to look at things from different perspectives, and analyze the information.
Second learning moment throughout the course was the blog post, and the comment. Through this process of posting ideas, and commenting on other people’s post really help me understand things from different angles. It opens my eyes to learn about the many different opinions that people have out there.