Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities

Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities

Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities

Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities

Excerpt

How does an individual make sense of and handle his or her multiple, sometimes conflicting identities? When I asked how he hoped to maintain his self-defined Indian culture, Samit, a twenty-four-year-old second-generation Indian American, replied:

The biggest way is marrying an Indian. Getting involved in the community
and temple and attending its cultural events. Language is a big deal. … There
are things you can talk about with Indians that you can't talk about with
others. … I think growing up here it's very hard; a lot of culture and attributes
of being Indian are lost. Sometimes I think I'm no different than Joe Smith who
lives next door.

Later in the interview he also fondly recalled a ras garba festival held at his parents' home, which involves dancing in concentric circles while clapping sticks and hands—part of a traditional religious event for Gujarati Indians:

We used to have garba at our house growing up. My "White" American friends
came over and they loved it. We had a blast. It was fun teaching them how to do
it and doing it with them.

These two quotes suggest the multifaceted nature of an answer to how people maintain multiple commitments. Samit feels highly Americanized yet still attached to an ethnic culture that distinguishes him from the majority, as seen in the first quote. At times he is able to bridge those parts, such as with a ras garba festival that translates well to other Americans, as seen in the second quote.

Similarly, when I asked James, a twenty-seven-year-old second- generation Korean American, what effect the model minority stereotype of Asian . . .

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