Friday, August 31, 2007

Asian American "History"

Asian American History...if we took out "American" from that term, Asian History would have very little controversy since we are specifying a history that takes place in a different land. Obviously, taking out "Asian" would be deemed totally acceptable within our modern society as "American History" is a term that is most familiar. But "American History", from what we find in school textbooks and told by scholars, would simply be how the United States was formed from the perspective of the white man as he created the country into a shining beacon of freedom, democracy, and liberty for the rest of the world to look up to. Never mind the other non-white nationalities that immigrated into the country as the white man came first and whoever came first and is more prominent within a country has the greater power. It is uncomfortable for even the term "Asian American" to be used as we are familiar with "American" to be used mainly for white and black people. Considering the slavery that has taken place in America for several centuries, it is deemed politically offensive for blacks to simply be called "Africans" as their ancestors suffered to live in America and with the civil rights acts, it has been ingrained into the American mindset. But for every other race that has immigrated into this country, their hardships are deemed minor and thus are not consciously seen as Americans. It has become familiar to address Asians as only Asians even if they were born there and thus giving a significant word such as "history" to Asian Americans can be indeed seen as controversial.

Familiar does not mean we should take it with our heads down and our hands behind our backs. Familiar does not mean that we should simply accept because somebody told us that it was otherwise and that it should be taken for granted. With this said, we must be re-educated in the sense that that being an American truly means an individual who has come to this country to live a new life, regardless of where they came from. To become an American, it does not mean we need to assimilate our cultures, our identities, our names to a Euro-centric standard. That is not the true definition of being an American but only an outdated and narrow-minded conception of what an American is supposed to be. As Ronald Takaki would say, "We need to "re-vision" history to include Asians in the history of America, and to do so in a broad and comparative way". These words cannot be stressed enough how important it is to give Asian Americans the right to tell their complete history in all educational facilities in America. Though it may take a while for the history of Asian Americans to appear no larger than a margin in school textbooks, small steps such as this very course we are taking are significant to the process of creating a better and more open-minded future.