First World Problems

America’s Most Lonely PeopleJay Caspian King Penguin Random House. 272 Pages, $27

Jay Caspian Kang’s story of life is extraordinary, but it can also be quite common for families with similar values.

Although his parents were born in North Korea and emigrated to South Korea during the Korean War, they had family roots. After he was married to his wife, his parents moved to the U.S. His parents arrived from very humble circumstances, but they were well-off and his children thrived in the U.S. Even though his journey was difficult, It is far from simpleKang received a B.A. An elite liberal arts college (Bowdoin), as well as an MFA at an Ivy League university, Columbia. A well-respected publication was his. Romance. As a journalist and/or editor at ESPN, he was a successful reporter. The New Yorker, ViceBefore joining, you can read more about it here. The New York TimesHis address is ColumnsThese are great.

His most recent book is America’s Most Lonely People To explore the current state of being Asian in America, he draws from his family’s stories and on his journalism over time. His own story and his work are woven into the wider journey of Asians living in America today, which spans the 1800s to the present. This book is inspired by his daughter’s birth, who was born to a non-Asian mother. Kang was pondering how his child would navigate the hyphenated identities of her mother and peers.

A new identity

“Asian American” As Berkeley, 1968 saw the creation of an identity. In 1968, Berkeley saw the birth of an identity. The Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) sought to build a pan-ethnic coalition that was inspired by black power and the Chicano Movement. This would address the common problems faced by all Asian groups.

In America, most large Asian organizations had an intimacy with U.S. foreign military intervention from the 1960s. PacificationEventually conquestHawai’i to the Colonizationfrom the Philippines, World War II and The Following Japan’s occupation(Or roughly) 55 ThousandU.S. Soldiers remain stationed (to this day) to the Korean War (nearly 29000U.S. troops remain stationed on Korean soil) Vietnam WarThe U.S. withdraw was not accompanied by an ambitious Programs for refugee resettlement).

Many Asians who married U.S. soldiers in their homeland became Americans after these wars. The family unification policy eventually permitted parents, siblings and close relatives to military spouses, as well. Many of these migrants settled near or on military bases and built strong community bonds. Directly from other Asians Serving in the MilitaryMany of them have been naturalized citizens in return for their service to America throughout American history.

From the 1800s to the 1960s, Asian America maintained a complex, intense and ambivalent relationship with the United States.

The U.S. has an embarrassing history of domestic violence that goes beyond the occupations and invasions in foreign countries. oppression, exploitation, ExclusionAnd GewaltForbidden against Asians. Both Japantowns and Chinatowns have many similarities. Monuments of living artTo this history. Koreatowns, as Kang points out, were quite different. As a positive initiative, they were later established to create an ethnic community for Korean Americans. This was in contrast with or better than the Japantowns and Chinatowns which were already flourishing in many U.S. towns at that time.

AAPA developed an identity for Asian Americans around the common history. This organization organized Asian-American students to fight discrimination both at home and abroad. From the start, tensions arose along lines of class and ethnicity. Before long, however, all the threads that connected war and oppression domestically would be more fragile. 

Kang explains how immigrants were restricted in the time when American violence and oppression was at its worst. The most severe hostilities and restrictive measures were removed by the U.S. when it opened up. One reason laws can be liberalized was that people have become more friendly towards immigrants in general. Particularly Asian AmericansThis was in the time following World War II. 

Although this was a liberalization, even though the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act eased U.S. immigration restrictions the White House dismissed its potential impact. President Lyndon Johnson argued that the legislation was not necessary. ThatIt was a big deal, and it would not change U.S. society in the long-term. He was incorrect.

The percentage of immigrants in the U.S. total population has reached levels never seen before. These growth factors have been driven largely by Asian immigrants. Between the 1970s to 1980s, most U.S. immigration came from Asia. Asia:. In the early 1990s and early 2000s, Asian immigrants were temporarily outpaced by Latin American migrants. But since 2008 they have been steadily increasing their numbers. Multiple new immigrantsAmerica has become once more Asian. Asian Americans have grown from 1965 onwards. Less than one-half percentaccording to 2020 U.S. Census estimates). Today’s American Asian population is about 20 times the size of what it was in Hart-Celler’s day.

For most Asian Americans living in America, this means that their American family history is not yet complete. After 1965. According to Kang, they are Hart-Celler children.

These post-Hartzell waves of immigrants generally did not have any direct connections to America’s most horrific treatment of Asians. They were not subject to internment nor legal exclusion.

After the 1975 fall of Saigon, U.S. militaries shifted away from East Asia and became more focused on North Africa. The U.S. also saw a shift in immigration patterns away from Asian nations where it had waged major wars. Over the past decade, Chinese and Indian immigration has been much more common than those from other Asian countries. Nearly half45 percent of current Asian-Americans are from this region. As a function of these changes, the imprint of the United States military and its campaigns abroad—both the scars and the ties—have grown markedly less pronounced within America’s Asian population as well.

America was a symbol of freedom, opportunity and hope for Hart-Celler’s children. America had fewer corruptions and was not as parochial as the nations it hailed. It was more open to mobility. You had more opportunity and stability. People from religious or ethnic minority groups faced significantly less persecution here than in their home countries. Post-1965 immigrant families flocked to America because they believed the American dream was possible. Their children are often more optimistic about the U.S. than they were their parents.

Luxury Beliefs

According to general statistics, Asian immigrants are able to make a comfortable life in America and have seen their children prosper here. Asian Americans are more successful than white people, according to many conventional measures of success. Not all Asian Americans can thrive the same. Asians have the The most socioeconomically dividedUnited States, racial/ethnic bloc. Particularly stark is the division along the lines national origin.

Chinese, Japanese and Korean Americans have significantly higher educational attainments and household incomes than U.S. citizens. These measures are comparable to the U.S. averages for Vietnamese Americans. The U.S. population is smaller in Bangladeshi, Hmongs, Cambodians, Burmeses, Bhutanese and Laotian Americans. As a result, these people do not have access to as many resources. Networks and infrastructures that are ethnically-orientedThey often move to America with less cultural capital than the other Asian subgroups. This population tends to have higher rates of education attainment and household incomes. fallSignificantly See below the U.S. average—and as a result, they tend to be absent from most discussions about Asian America. It is thatKang claims that discourse is fundamentally for and by elites.

Because most Asian Americans are not directly connected to America’s history, violence, marginalization, or oppression, many of them learn more about the past. CollegeParticipation in affinity groups and engagement with peers, as well as in classes.Wake up” media. “Media. 

Kang suggests that being immersed in American history and excluded from Asians is often contradictory. While it alienates Asian-American elite aspirants away from America’s preferred narratives, it allows them to see themselves clearly in America, which helps to make them feel more at home, and to appreciate the long-standing and deep role that people like them have played in American society. The feeling of victimhood and precarity it creates in Asian Americans is enhanced. This helps them to fit in betterThey hope to become part of the elites.

Indeed, Kang argues, one reason college-educated Asian Americans gravitate toward this discourse is because they come to recognize that upward mobility in the knowledge economy is largely contingent on pleasing white liberal gatekeepers—on mirroring their values and fitting into their worldviews. The reliable way of showing one’s ability to be a “woken” individualist is by leaning into this discourse. Educational pedigreeAnd Moral characterYou can be among Google and Harvard. New York Times, and McKinsey & Co. crowd. Being conspicuously afflicted by systemic disadvantages can both signal and reinforce one’s elite (actual or aspirational).

Asian Americans associated with high-ranking knowledge-economy organizations tend to be strong supporters of race-based affirmative actions (which is practiced at elite schools and universities). Widely acceptedAsian applicants were not treated equally with people from other cultures. Asian Americans are also at disadvantage, Rely heavilyMany who are admitted into elite schools of education have passed standardized test to be eligible for admission.

Rob Henderson, a social psychologist, has described these positions as “Luxury beliefs.” People who already have been admitted into the school they desire will be able to continue affirmative action and not lose their admission. They’ve been admitted. In fact, their child’s ability to replicate their class rank may be enhanced by the removal of standard testing. The majority of college essays, which are more dependent on standardized testing than they are, tend to reflect parental socioeconomic status. You can also examine the details of each individual.SAT scores don’t do as well. It would be much more difficult for new immigrants to gain admission to elite universities if they had to compete with the kids of Asian-American elites. For incumbent Asian elites, then, an embrace of fashionable professional-managerial class ideas on affirmative action and testing costs them nothing and provides a range of benefits—from helping them fit in with liberal white peers to helping restrict and weaken competition from future cohorts of elite aspirants. 

Things are different for Asian immigrants who hope to see their children move freely in America. Or for those who imagine they might have attained had they made it into their target school—whose families are proud, but not the way they would have been if their child was an alumnus of Harvard, Princeton, or MIT. Among populations likeTheseKang cites the wide acceptance of affirmative actions, elimination of standard testing and other positive changes. Resentment is common among Asians who are already successful.

You’re all alone near the summit

This is the case for a subset of Asians living in America who struggle with hyphenated identities. People who have been born in America as immigrants, or those with less education and/or wealth tend to see themselves as Americans of Korean descent. They aren’t bothered by conjuctions such as “Korean American” or the contradictions therein. They find it less useful or meaningful to have a pan-ethnic Asian-American identity, which places Koreans in the same category as Indians, Mongolians and Indonesians.

These groups include Hispanics, blacks and others. They The possibility of internal diversity being integrated with a wider group known as “peoples of color”, would be absurd when juxtaposed to whites. Primarily, many migrants desire to integrate. Their children and themselves to get along with whites, and be accepted into society The mainstream. A second reason is that there are long-standing tensions among people of Asian descent, Hispanics and African Americans in communities with Asian Americans. 

In Chapters 3, and 6, Kang offers a detailed overview of tensions that persist and sometimes solidarity between Asians, and other minorities. He continues by arguing that even though hyphenated identities as well race-making narratives, pan-ethnic appeals, and race-making stories have very little resonance among many Asian Americans in America, these messages still feel important and meaningful to younger Asian immigrant, second- and three-generation immigrants, and current or aspiring professionals. Kang describes these Asians “the lonely Americans” 

Although they feel “other” in America, they would be considered an outsider in their home countries. They do not feel white and are not aspiring to become “white.” Although they feel proud of their cultural heritage, they strive to change it. They work hard to obtain prestigious degrees and careers, and they often move to predominantly white neighbourhoods. But they also feel intense. Vertigo, guilt and shameAssociated with social mobility and integration in elite institutions and predominantly white social networks. However, they recognize that the challenges they face are not unique to their ethnicity or race. You can take this example:

  • Although they and their children attend excellent K-12 schools, they are often bullied, ignored, or even exoticized at school. Even though Asians experience less bullying than others racial and ethnic groups, it is still a very common target for harassment. The basis Regardless of race or ethnicity.
  • The average American Asian-American has the highest educational attainment. However, the best schools are not among them. de facto Asian admissions are subject to capsTo have a diverse student population, Asians must perform. At a higher levelFor people from different backgrounds, it is more difficult to get into the top universities. Furthermore, while most young people of Asian descent do attend college, high school graduates tend to not be accepted. Much worseWhites with similar education levels are more educated than those of other races.
  • A college degree is a good way to land a job. Asians face many challenges. There are many forms of microaggressionsof the top positions in their organization (a phenomenon known as the “The Exclusion”).bamboo ceiling“).
  • Asian Americans are a minority in professional circles. Significantly underrepresentedTelevision, films, and literature in the United States. These characters are frequently depicted on television, film and literature. Unfortunately, there are some ways to failWhen they These are rendered visible. Asians are also known for their ability to see. Significantly underrepresentedIn elected positions at the national, state, local and regional levels.
  • Asian Americans may be subject to racialized animism, but it is not as severe as the other races and ethnicities. (Recently,NBER studyThe reason that Asian Americans were able achieve such remarkable success relative to other minorities is because after WWII they weren’t as oppressed like other racial or ethnic minority peoples. Although Asians are subject to hate incidents, It happens significantly less often than other racial and ethnic groups—and these usually involve words, vandalism, and social shunning rather than direct physical violence. If there is direct physical violence Does Asian-American professionals should not be surprised to find that they conform to the accepted practice of making huge deals about race and ethnicity when the perpetrator is white while making no mention whatsoever of race of the aggressor if the latter happens to be Asian. non-white. After the death of These are the people attacks, they are expected to offer up sentiments of racial solidarity—even as many of those they seek solidarity With Continue to consider Asians “privileged” minorities who have less pressing issues than they do.

Kang says this is the main reason why “loneliness” is so prevalent. Because Asian Americans generally do better than any other racial or ethnic group, and sometimes better than white Americans, it can be difficult for people to pay attention to their troubles and struggles. As long as they are able to internalize the prevailing ethos of the professional-managerial class, they often feel a bit of guilt or shame They will be themselves We are focusing our attention on issues that Asians face in the U.S.

This is a disturbing trend among many Asian Americans. Chapter 7 examines the rise in “radical” Asian movements in America. These tend to be focused on maintaining the means for social mobility of Asian migrants. They push through the bamboo ceiling and assert Asians’ rightful position in American culture. Fetishized and highly pursuednon-Asian men while the former are frequently depicted, and treated as Non-sexual entities).

These movements tend to draw on a wild mélange of black nationalist ideology, “redpill” manosphere writings, and “woke” symbolic politics. Kang observes with great insight that even though they are opposed to most Asian-American professional’s mainstream liberalism (who they are believed to have made a Sisyphean effort to win acceptance from liberal whites), the “radicals”, as Kang calls them, aren’t as distant as their opponents as they appear to be.

Mainstream Asian elites are often identified as “peoples of color”, and they show solidarity with those who identify the same. These alliances are often little more than an elite of multicultural people competing with each other for greater representation. The New York TimesS, Hollywood productions and the C-Suite. The “radicals” likewise remain centered overwhelmingly on professional-managerial class concerns: elite schools, bamboo ceilings, and so on. Participants are often highly educated, wealthy and just like the mainstream. They may “demand” rather than request respect and recognition—more in principle than in practice to date—but they remain just as preoccupied with the “white gaze.” They want respect and recognition Whom??) They obsess over their white counterparts’ positions in relation to media, politics, and the dating market.

Similar to how much of postcolonial literature remains fixed on the West and its products, Similar image of power relations that orientalist scholarship did, the “radical” Asian movement presents itself as an alternative to professional-managerial Asian politics but is probably better understood as a variation of the same.

For their part, first-generation Asians of working-class and older age have been moving toward the GOP in recent years (both The Trump YearsAnd After). Also, it means that the Growing political divisionIt seems that the battle between professionals in knowledge economy and others is playing out just like it does in public. The “loneliest Americans”—who tend to be deeply enmeshed in the symbolic professions and consolidated in Knowledge economy hubs—could find themselves even more isolated down the line.

Kang insists on bringing attention to class dynamics in discussions about racial or ethnic identity. This and other reasons make Kang’s book an excellent entry point into understanding the current state of America, where it is today, what we have done, and where it might go. Although the book “about” individuals of Asian descent, it is also a narrative about America in general.