I’ve never really been interested in the humanities before. Reasons include failing to see the bigger picture, struggling in them, and feeling I had nothing to gain from taking these courses. Since I came to Northwestern and being exposed to a great community, I started to ask myself a question that I haven’t really asked before: Who am I? I really started to analyze the experiences I’ve had in my life, and realized a big part of that was because of my identity. My parents grew up their whole life in China, while I grew up in the United States. I didn’t know if I should be considered Asian, Asian-American, or American. Then I wondered what being Asian or Asian-American even meant.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I decided to take Asian American Popular Culture. I’ve never taken a class like this before, and knew I was going to struggle and feel so naive. I still have plenty to learn, but through this course, I’ve come to a better understanding of how popular culture has influenced what it means to be Asian and Asian American, and how that has impacted consumers.
During Week 6 of this course, we explored food and material culture, and the impacts Asian foods have on consumers. We started to think about what it means for something to be “authentic”. Asian foods were brought over by immigrants, and chefs had to manipulate the recipes to cater the taste buds in America. As a result, this brought up the concepts of “Fake” and “Authentic” Asian foods.
In class, a Buzzfeed video titled “Chinese People Try Panda Express for the First Time” was mentioned. It is interesting to note that the younger Chinese Americans tended to be more picky and criticizing of its “authenticity” , while the older Chinese people tended to just care about the taste. As a women offers her feedback at the end of the video, she states “Just American Style Chinese Food, You can’t expect it to be the same as our traditional Chinese food”.
A realization I came to have was that the argument of “authenticity” wasn’t significant, as every individual has a different meaning of that word. Different styles that are catered to different tastes should be appreciated, even if you personally dislike the taste.
Images and portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans have negative impact, regardless of whether they are positive stereotypes or negative stereotypes.
In my second blog, I discussed the model minority stereotype and how that leads to suppression of Asians and Asian Americans. Before “Linsanity” became a thing, Jeremy Lin faced discrimination on several levels, although he seemed to be all good on paper. With negative stereotypes such as Asians not being able to play certain sports, it was believed that he wasn’t able to be successful in basketball on a professional level.
There are also positives stereotypes such as “Asians are smart”. While they may be in good intention, they are harmful. It builds a role of what an Asian should be. If that stereotype is not met, one may be seen as failure. If that stereotype is met, it will be attributed to ethnicity, instead of the individual.
Growing up, I used to think that my own identity, and my “Asian-American” had to be two different things. I thought I had to do certain things just to fit my assumptions what the role of an Asian is. Through this course, I am more aware of where my preconceptions about races, especially Asians and Asian Americans, come from. I’m still relatively new to all of this. There are many things that I have taken to be the norm. I will work on challenging my own beliefs to be more aware of what is going around me in the world.