Second-Generation Korean Americans: The Struggle for Full Inclusion

Second-Generation Korean Americans: The Struggle for Full Inclusion

Second-Generation Korean Americans: The Struggle for Full Inclusion

Second-Generation Korean Americans: The Struggle for Full Inclusion

Synopsis

Kim argues that educational and occupational success for groups in the racial middle such as Korean and Asian Americans does not necessarily translate into further integration in other sectors of American society. Educational and professional accomplishments, while accelerating integration and acceptance, can be accompanied by exclusion in other sectors of society. Thus, Korean and Asian Americans may experience rapid intergenerational upward mobility and integration, but still be subject racialization and exclusion. This challenges the assimilation paradigm that immigrants and their children will assimilate and continue to achieve full integration and acceptance in the mainstream society.

Excerpt

Next time you make an appointment to see a dentist or doctor, or schedule a meeting with co-workers, you may notice that many of the young professionals with whom you come into contact will have last names such as Kim, Lee, Park, or Cho. These young Korean American doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, accountants, pharmacists, consultants, and analysts, like millions of children of post-1960s immigrants, represent the new face of an ever more diverse American work force. Yet, because this emerging group of the adult children of Korean and other immigrants is entering an American society undergoing significant racial and ethnic change, a major question that arises for second-generation immigrants breaking into mainstream labor markets as professionals is whether their success in education and occupation translates into social inclusion in other areas of American society. Or is race still an enduring boundary that trumps class (and acculturation) for second-generation immigrants?

In the face of an epic demographic transformation spurred by the entry since the 1960s of millions of new immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the incorporation of immigrants, and especially their children, is arguably one of the most salient public policy issues at present and will be in years to come.

In post-civil rights America, an era that brought the first Black American, Barack Obama, to the presidency, whether secondgeneration immigrants positioned in intermediary positions in the racial order are able to make the same leap into the mainstream is a critical question that needs to be addressed and examined. Especially for second-generation immigrants from middle-class backgrounds making . . .

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