Wednesday, November 28, 2007


In a discussion I had with a friend about prominent Asian-American males in American society, she brought up a certain individual named Keni Styles, who is the first Asian-American straight male porn star and is making a big impact in Europe. Considering that European trends end up in America eventually, I see this as a positive sign that Asian-Americans can be shown in ANY light that is not restricted to that of being weak, effeminate, nerdy, shy, quiet... or violent and prone to killing outbursts. To be free to be seen in a manner of your choosing is a powerful thing, a goal that I am trying hard to accomplish and will dedicate my life for this ideal.

In one of more heated discussions today in recent memory, I need to say that I agree with Todd's opinion in that ethnic minorities need to stop pitting themselves against "The Man" and focus more on establishing their own identities. While it is important to recognize the argument that to create one's identity as someone of minority background will be difficult when society prevents you from doing so because of the majority population being white, it becomes counter-productive to dedicate all of one's energy into creating something that says, "I am everything non-white" when it really should be focused on creating "I am whoever I want to be". I recently believed that I have finally found out my own identity but I still feel discomfort whenever I see a large group of Koreans huddling together, speaking Korean, and immediately I feel like I can never be a part of that because of my poor grasp of the language as well as their common interests that I find no interest in whatsoever. Because of that, maybe I haven't found what my identity truly is because I must accept that I am of Korean blood and to feel alienation and sometimes embarrassment for people who are comfortable with their Korean culture means that I am not comfortable with myself entirely.

What I am comfortable with and what I will defend vehemently is everything that defines what I do in my everyday life, the people I hang out with, the things I like, and how I see the world as a whole. I used to accept the term that I was a Twinkie and there was a time when I used that as a medal of pride that I would wear proudly. But to love theater, to enjoy 70's rock music, to devour eight Hardee's burgers in one sitting, to be fiercely open about his own feelings and express it as so, I've come to believe that this is me. Maybe some of my interests were indeed influenced by my American upbringing but I know for sure that I have been exposed to so many different people, their way of life, their cultures, their quirks across different continents that what has truly shaped me is difficult to pinpoint and label.

Maybe the definition of white America is to lose all of one's identity and go along with the consensus of the majority. Maybe white America is still America as a whole and because of that, ethnic minorities are struggling to establish their own identities without being pressured to change because they are too "Asian", "Latino", "black". There is uncertainty in this day and age whether we are still the victims of oppression or whether we have the freedom now to move on from the pain that defined our past into a future where there are no limits. I've realized more and more that I start to call myself an American and not a Korean-American anymore and correct others if I'm Asian. Is this me losing my identity, as some people would say? Am I being pressured to cast aside the Asian in my label because I feel it does not suit me?

In the end, I believe that being an American means you can come from all over, be proud or shameful of your native culture that you may or may not know anything about and still enjoy eating galbi and bi-bim-bob while also having fries and some tandoori chicken on the side.