Second-Generation Culture?

Is there really a second-generation Asian American culture? If so, I’m out of the loop, because I’m not really like my parents or other second-generation ABCs. What are the characteristics of its ethnogenesis?

My only impression of ABCs as a distinct group representative of second-generation Asian Americans is that they usually speak bad Chinese, except sometimes in California; act like honorary whites, except for all the exaggeratedly bad parts of Asian cultures; and watch Russell Peters on YouTube. What else? Is that enough to constitute a culture?

But certainly there are differences between the first and second generations. Is it solely a matter of impoverishment and unquestioned assimilation, because that’s what the first generation both wants and dislikes?


7 responses to “Second-Generation Culture?

  1. wow. generalize much lue?


  2. Which means there’s more than that, doesn’t it? If you’re talking about formation of a distinct culture, it is the distinctives you’ll have to look at, and that inherently requires generalizations that don’t all apply to all of the group.

    Right now, though, I see little else distinctive about second-generation Asian Americans. Since you’ve already commented, though, what does set some children of Asian immigrants apart from both their parents and white people?


  3. You know, I was actually trying to think of whether there is really a strong Asian-American culture too. I don’t think there necessarily is one broad one, but there are definitely sub-cultures.

    There’s the model-minority-myth-internalizing, Abercrombie AAs that I’m guessing you are referring to in your post.

    There’s the “school is my life” kids (khakis, short-sleeve, collared-shirt and all).

    And usually on the other end of the class spectrum, there’s the basketball-hip-hop AAs, working class AAs that drink, smoke and gamble and, as evidenced by this campus, the race-oriented, social justice activists.

    The second generation has definitely adapted in different ways. While some of it is cultural, unfortunately part of that difference is also assimilating to whiteness and ignorantly embracing an honorary white status that serves to keep Asian-Americans politically weak and leave their interests off the table.


  4. Lue, the characterizing thing of a second generation AA is

    1) The struggle between the two cultures. The parents and home usually have a very Asian, conservative values and worldview while school represents the white world and culture. The child must live in both, with both saying that they aren’t white enough, too white, too Asian or not Asian enough.
    2) What is important to them. Money, achievements and good schools are important to the parents, while the kids value relationships and time spent. The child measures love as time spent together while the parent measures it as money/activities they are able to give their child.

    That said, the disparate physical actions become manifestations of different people struggling with these ideas.

    Also, you must keep into account that AA include Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Taiwanese, etc. and also people of different religions and backgrounds, etc. This makes for only fuzzy divisions and nothing that can be said all inclusively about the whole group.

    For a man of your mental ability, I’m surprised you give this such little but condescending thought. While your situation is the exception, as your parents have tended towards the best of both worlds and thus removed you from the common experience, don’t be so quick to consign the rest of us to the pits of cheap and shallow pop culture. Bad Chinese and YouTubed Russell Peters, indeed!


  5. That’s kind of what I mean. There’s actually so little commonality in second-generation AAs that I see no basis for such an identity. I think it doesn’t actually exist except in the acculturation experience: there seems not to be much to characterize our “ethnic group”, if you would even call it that, at all.

    Instead, we’re looking at a set of subcultures influenced mostly by background that we wouldn’t consider to be the core of second-generation “Asianness”. A lot of it appears to have to do with the parents’ social class (if they’re both in the home), location or the like.

    On the other hand, many people do act as if such a culture exists. I’m not convinced. Is it even a useful label except when we’re talking about this kind of experience?


  6. yeah i dont think you can really call it a unified culture. i mean, some things might be similar, but i dont think its enough to justify the statement that all second generation asian americans are part of one culture. you seem to be referring to chinese americans in your post, and they arent by any means representative of asian americans in general, as tim said. i think your impression of abcs is kinda limited, and not personally knowing every single abc in the united states, i cant speak either, but that just doesnt sound right as a general description.


  7. The inability of many children of Cantonese immigrants to speak their parents’ and grandparents’ language might weigh more heavily to me than Alvin’s ability to speak Chinese very fluently.

    And perhaps I’m more like an immigrant in not considering a lot of Asian Americans very Asian, at least for Chinese-Americans. I can tell you the majority of the Cantonese kids at church in northern Virginia are white. As in white. And that’s not because of church.

    Is anything someone might call second-generation AA culture a blend of American and Asian cultures? Is it more complex? Is there really no “it” at all? Perhaps. If so, we should severely curtail our reference to AA culture so as not to belie its existence.


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