- A Diversity of Distinct Identities: Participants grappled with the term ‘Asian American’, which covers a complex diversity of origins and cultures, feeling that it’s too broad or ambiguous. Since many in the US associate the term with East Asians, South Asian participants expressed feeling excluded. Others, especially those born outside the US, identify foremost with their ethnic heritage. Stylus’ reporting has discussed that while America’s Asian cohort is broadly diverse, unity in the face of anti-Asian hate has recently helped build a pan-Asian sense of community.
- Battling Stereotypes & Xenophobia: Pew identifies a recurring theme among participants – “the difference between how [they] saw themselves and how others see them”. As an example, participants cited the myth of the model minority, discussing ways in which it’s been harmful personally, in school and in the workplace. Young Asian Americans are increasingly pushing against this stereotype, as we discuss in Embracing Culture & Community.
Participants also highlighted frustration with being seen as “forever foreigners”. Many mentioned that they’re frequently asked where they are really from, by people who don’t see them as simply American. “You become fed up with it after a while”, commented one woman in her mid-30s.
These and other topics are also discussed in Pew's half-hour video accompanying the study.
Despite facing bias, Asian Americans increasingly take pride in their cultural differentiators, aligning with a shift seen across racial and ethnic cohorts. Brands must respond by celebrating heritage while also reflecting specific markers of identity – avoiding generic portrayals that attempt to broadly represent the diversity of Asian Americans.
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