February 22, 2007
Written by C.N.
Like Asian Americans in general, young Asian Americans frequently find themselves admired, reviled, misunderstood, and/or the subject of curiosity, all at the same time. Nationally-renowned performance artist Kate Rigg and SnapDragon consultants want to change that and, as published by Yahoo News, has come up with a list of Ten Things Every Brand Should Know About Asian-American Youth:
- Many Asian-American youth feel excluded and misunderstood by most brands. It’s made worse by the fact that they see advertisers actively wooing the African-American and Hispanic markets.
- Mixed race kids are proudly identifying as Hapa, a once derogatory word in Hawaiian to mean “half.” Hapa is also slang for marijuana in Japanese (spelled Happa). Hapa is supplanting terms like Amerasian, biracial, and blasian.
- Asian-American youth are secret fans of “easy listening” adult contemporary music. Lite FM is a hidden passion.
- There’s a “hero gap” among Asian-American kids, which is being filled for many by activists from other cultures. Martin Luther King is a role model and hero to many young Asian-Americans.
- Most Asian-American kids refer to white people as “white people” the same way African-Americans do.
- Underage gambling is huge. The “new” American poker obsession is nothing new to Asian-American kids. Gambling has a long history in Asian culture. Many students Rigg spoke with are avid online gamblers and card players. Some organize private online poker tournaments.
- Asian-American kids want an end to the hyper-nerdy images of themselves on TV and want to see more punked-out skater and graffiti DJ images which reflect a different energy. The feeling is: Enough with the math geeks, future doctors and violinists. Asian-American kids crave street credibility — not just academic accolades.
- Asian-American kids universally hate the question: Where are you from — especially since the answers are usually something like “Westchester” or “Boston.”
- All things Korean are hot and getting hotter. Fashion. Foods. DJs. Online communities. Korea is the new Japan.
- The 15 minutes of seemingly benign American Idol fame for William Hung had a surprisingly negative effect on Asian-American students. There’s a feeling that Hung perpetuated the worst stereotypes about Asian people and gave non-Asians permission to indulge in two years of racial stereotyping and mocking.
The list makes pretty good sense to me, although I was not aware of #3, the passion of Asian American youth for easy listening contemporary music. Who knew that someone like Kenny G would be able to rock the Asian American world?
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Ten Things to Know About Asian American Youth" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/02/ten-things-to-know-about-asian-american-youth/> ().
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