Reports are that there are over 23 million Asian Americans living in the United States. Other reports are that over the past year, there are at least 4000 reports of various forms of harassment, including assaults, directed against Asian Americans in the United States. And tragically, during recent shootings in Georgia, eight lives were snuffed out, among them six Asian women. These are the facts.
So I begin this by introducing you to incredible Asian American women – Wei Wei Jeang and Lisa Ong – long-time friends of mine during the years I lived in Texas. Not only did I want to check in on the well-being of Wei Wei and Lisa, both outspoken and strong advocates of equality and fairness, I wanted to get their thoughts on what’s been happening to Asian Americans over recent years. I’ll begin with a little bit about their backgrounds. Continue reading Voices of Asian American Women – by Terry Howard→
In the 1960s, sociologist Harold Garfinkel founded a new field of inquiry called ethnomethodology. As such, Garfinkel uses the term indexing to describe how we depend on whatever information and experience we have to make sense of every social context. We call this social cues. For example, when a man in the US meets a person who is wearing a dress and a pair of high heels while carrying a lady’s purse, the man instantly concludes that this is a woman and therefore will instantaneously interact with this person according to the social etiquette between a man and a woman.
Garfinkel calls such mental exercise indexing. When we are unaware of social cues because we have not had interaction with members of a particular social group, we would depend on the common information available, whether true or not. This is when stereotyping comes into play.
When they first came to America, my parents, now Asian Americans, lived in a cramped apartment, first in New York, and then in Boston. My father likes to recount stories of how he would have to make multiple treks in the middle of New England snowstorms to buy diapers because they didn’t have enough money for bus fare.
There has been a recent and burgeoning trend towards materialism in Chinese cultures, perhaps coinciding with recent economic booms. I witness this anecdotally whenever I walk down 5th Avenue in Manhattan and see a disproportionate number of Chinese people outside luxury retail stores. After perusing through some studies, I confirmed my intuitions and discovered that 68% of people from Chinese feel a lot of pressure to be successful and make money and that 71% of people from China are most likely to measure their success by what they own. Both of these numbers are the highest among all countries surveyed. Chinese consumers have now overtaken Americans to become the world’s largest buyers of personal luxury items.