Presented at Princeton Research Day 2023, Junior Independent Research
Are Asian Americans People of Color? Reimagining Asian American Ethnic Identity and Forging Cross-Racial Solidarity with Black Americans
Are Asian Americans people of color? At the outset of his most famous 1903 essay, W.E.B. Du Bois writes: “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” But in today’s times, the problem of the twenty-first century is the blur of that color line. This is especially so in the case of Asian Americans. On the one hand, they are labeled the model minority, in between Black and White, and perpetually foreign. On the other hand, they are also the yellow peril as seen through acts of discrimination like the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment, and COVID19. Standing torn between these two antithetical stereotypes, how do Asian Americans make sense of these tensions? As a result, this paper investigates the complex relationship between Asian and Black Americans through the lens of ethnic differentiation and social boundaries. It attempts to challenge existing literature that examines predetermined cultural differences and conflict by reimagining Asian American identity across diverse ethnic identities. Utilizing Andreas Wimmer's theory of ethnic boundary making, I investigate the impact of acculturation, ingroup commonality, values orientation, and racial identity on intergroup contact and cross-racial solidarity. My methods involve Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression from the 2016 Post-Election National Asian American Survey to make inferences on interracial cooperation and collaboration. Ultimately, my findings suggest that acculturation through the retention of one’s native language and high levels of social commonalities with Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Cambodians are significant determinants of Asian American intergroup contact with Blacks.
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