What defines your “Asian Americaness?”
While most answers would pertain to geographical background, it is not limited to just that. It deals with ethnicity, the culture you take in and what you personally choose to express.
In terms of physicality, where does this placement scale pin Mixed Asian Americans. No one person has the same physical features, or is split in the direct center of looking, for example, half Asian, half White.
Does an Asian American person participating in Asian events, holidays, or gatherings make them more of an “Asian” than one who does not. Does that mean the latter person does not care about their culture or is ashamed? Not necessarily. Why must one need to prove their Asian Americaness in order to be viewed as Asian American.
UMCP’s Chinese Student Association hosted an event that unintentionally challenged these ideas. Lunar Banquet was a celebration of the Lunar New Year, which majority of people recognize as Chinese New Year, yet it is not only celebrated by Chinese people, but by Vietnamese people, and more.
Being a part of the Chinese Student Association meant advertising Lunar Banquet 2015 to the public, mainly people who would be interested in attending. What does it really mean to “target the right audience?” Was it safe to assume that only Asians would be interested? Is it wrong to assume so? Probably to some degree. Plenty of attendees ranged across borders and backgrounds.
In terms of attendees, the audience ranged across many backgrounds and ethnicities, not just Asian/Asian American, or even just Chinese for that matter. It was a celebration to spread culture together. But it is interesting the differences in viewpoints and opinions that are placed on the attendees depending on where they’re from. If you were a Chinese or an Asian/Asian American, you may be judged for attending such an event. It might not necessarily be a negative judgement. Yet there is that sort of ‘expectation’ or ‘understanding’ that an Asian/Asian American would attend an Asian cultural event. It may be viewed in others eyes at typical of that person. So because they are Asian, they are expected to attend this culture night. Or it is not seen in anyway surprising. Does this assert that the person is “more Asian?” Does not attending and not participating in the realm of the Asian American community make you any less Asian? There is a minor stigma when you attend and participate, and a stigma when you do not. There is no winning this.
And this seems to be the case with attendees whom are not Asian or Asian American as well. These people who attend Lunar Banquet or any other Asian Heritage Culture Night also have a sort of label or judgment that is placed over their heads. Some people may view these people as attempts to fit into the crowd. Others may view them as more accepting and more open to people’s cultures.
Regardless, people should be less judgmental of others who attend these culture nights.