In Asia, there is no such thing as Asian or Asian American. People are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Thai, Indonesian, or Laotian.
The Black Power Movement, during the 1960’s, became the catalyst for the Yellow Power Movement. The “Black is Beautiful” cry among Black Americans inspired a new awareness in Asian-Americans to be proud of their physical and cultural backgrounds. The Yellow Power Movement rejected images of the “passive Oriental” and symbolized the birth of a new Asian, the Asian American. This Asian American would recognize and address racism and injustice. Yellow Power advocated self-acceptance as the first step towards strengthening identities of Asian Americans. The cry of “Yellow Power” represented a new direction for the Asian American community. It screamed, “We will define ourselves!” It meant seeking freedom from racial oppression through the power of a consolidated yellow people.
Since then, an Asian American was not necessarily something that we were born into, but rather something one becomes. The Asian American Movement began in 1968. It was the same time we fought for ethnic studies, the movement against the Vietnam War and the issue of the identity crisis. Being Asian American meant knowing ones history and understanding the common struggle and experience of Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry in the United States.
Today, we hear the term “Asian Pride”. Young Asian Americans speak of Asian blood, always watching each others back. What is Asian Pride? Is it Filipino Pride, Vietnamese Pride, Korean Pride, etc? Or is it Asian/Pacific American Pride?
I remember using this term, “Asian Pride”, six years ago in high school. It was an expression my friends would use when speaking of Asians being together. Thinking back, though we claimed “Azn Pride”, we didn’t really care about deep Asian American issues. We were secluded in our own little world. All we cared about were Asians. I remember dissing my White friends I made my freshman and sophomore year because I found this new “Asian Pride” my junior and senior year. I thought I was so cool because all my friends were Asian. All I could care about were Asian lowered cars, designer clothes, Asian dance clubs, everything possibly Asian.
My friends would just stick together and stereotype or quick judge others without giving them a chance. This Asian pride hindered me since most of the time, we would be racist against Whites. During my junior prom, a White guy asked me out. I really liked him and said yes. The more I thought about it, I was afraid that because he was White and I was Filipina that I wouldn’t be accepted by my peers because of this whole “Asian Pride” thing. I almost backed out of our date. At that moment on, I knew that this whole “Asian Pride” thing was getting out of hand. All I cared about was promoting my Asian race without any care for others. That’s when I knew I was no different from a Klu Klux Klan member. It is definitely wrong to exclude others. This “Asian Pride” was supposed to help Asians by being proud of their race. I was becoming a little too proud. After going with him to prom, I realized that race doesn’t matter. I was so blinded by claiming “Asian Pride” that I almost let it get the best of me. From then on, I tried to be as open-minded as possible.
Today, Asian Pride has a different meaning to me than it once was. I learned from my experience in high school that you could be too proud.
I was so close minded and sheltered in my Asian world. I learned that you can still have your pride and still be open minded at the same time. I have been in many environments being the only Asian. Having Asian Pride makes me proud of who I am. It motivates me to be a better person, to better race relations. Just because someone is different from you should not mean anything.
I am including excerpts of what other people think of Asian Pride:
Kathryn-Jane B. Luce, 18, Illinois, said, “Asian Pride is materialistic. Asian Pride is often referred to as ‘Azn Pride’, in which and Asian has to hang out with an Asian ‘clique’, wear Nautica, Polo Sport, Tommy Hilfiguer, possess a pager, have a supped up car, etc. A lot of young Asians get sucked into this idea of being Asian and when they’re spit out into the real world, many of them are dumb founded because they are narrow-minded. Why can’t so many of my peers stop being so at full of themselves and their money? Asian Pride is about taking pride of one’s culture, but at the same time acknowledge and respect other cultures. And although racism still exists, we Asians can’t augment the hate by being too arrogant and prideful. Doing that would be wasting the efforts and hard work our Asian American elders exerted back in the 60’s and 70’s.”
Steve Wong, 22, Ontario, Canada said, “What’s the point of Asian Pride? To be recognized by mainstream folks, or just to get our piece of the pie? Most White people can’t tell the difference. Most people assume Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, but never Indonesian or Vietnamese, at least not by sight. What’s the point of Asian Pride? Recognition? Power? Money? Who are we trying to win over? Are we doing this to prove to ourselves that we can be equally outspoken and self confident as Blacks and/or Whites? For me, my identity lies with my Chinese and my Canadian upbringing. I identify myself as both, a product of a hybrid system which uses both Eastern and Western values. I use Yellow Power not as a rally cry against oppression and discrimination, but just to remind myself of who I am in this White-centric society. Asian Pride does have a purpose. It should serve as a point of reference for all of us. I doubt a pan-Asian movement will ever really be successful, given the many differences among our cultures, but at least you know where you stand in the big picture.