I sat in the audience of a university theater and listened to elected officials and professors ruminate on inclusion in the upcoming political election. It was Chicago in the 1990s and as in-your-face then as it is now. The discussion over race was loud and raucous as the candidates, Caucasian and African American, went toe to toe. As the debate turned to women, the all-male stage veered into the surreal. It turned into a shouting match as to who was more popular with the ladies. They gestured wildly about the numbers of women who called them, trying to prove that who was the more politically correct and more popular among the ladies.
The world was stunned by the election of Donald Trump. People and pundits alike are debating with each other -How could this happen? – What does this mean for the rest of the world? The answers are as complex as the reasons Trump was selected by the Electoral College. As an entrepreneur living abroad in Paris, France I can tell you that recent events over the past year or so have this place spinning with dread, anxiety, and uncertainty.
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.
As a Filipina-American born in an apolitical Florida suburb, I was not raised to be politically involved. Surrounded by predominantly white peers, I did not find my second-generation Asian American identity wholly represented in the southeast. It also didn’t help that my parents had a natural distrust of politicians having come of age under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law.