Recognizing Ourselves

Some have told me their scores on the quiz. Although he didn’t tell me directly, Masa says he scored 14 (out of 18) for a 77.7% accuracy rate. While this figure may sound low for a Japanese quiz, it was the highest score anyone I knew got…. until TiggerJ told me he got ALL of them correct! Woah, either he’s really lucky or he knows something most of us don’t. Either way, props to you, dude. Most people I know got around half. Your’s truly got a pathetic 8. I took it again recently, thinking I’ll remembr some of the faces and ethnicities, but crap, this time I got a 7. Maybe I was thinking too hard… or maybe I’m just stu… uh… ah, forget it. Hey, TJ, what’s the secret? Did you actually, consciously identify each ethnicity correctly or did you just guess correctly on a least some of them?

There seems to be a difference of opinion with regard to commingling (sorry, I missppelled it prrevviously) among Asian groups. The opinions I have heard and read suggest that there is, as we might expect, diversity among us. I obviously cannot speak for the opinions and observations of others, but I can speak for my own, for what it’s worth…

In my experience (we’re talking late 60s thru the 70s), most people tended to gravitate toward the familiar. Raised–if not born–in LA, there was a relatively large population of JAs and ABCs (American born Chinese), and a few KAs. There was a degree of commingling between JAs and ABCs, particularly when it came to socializing in things American–sports and music, I think. I recall some Chinese playing basketball and baseball in the CBO league and at dances, often sponsored by JA groups. There was at least one Korean–my old geometry teacher–who played NAU baseball, another JA centered group. I don’t recall Chinese or Korean leagues back then (if I’m wrong, someone let me know) and it seemed that if Asian-Americans wanted to play American sports or dance to American music played by AA musicians–in which I also participated–they associated with JAs who were more heavily invested in these kinds of activities. (I have a notion that this is related to WWII and the internment camps, but more on that later.)

But for the most part, these groups hung out with their respective groups in a kind of “voluntary segregation.” Indeed, even the JAs had distinct groups: Westsiders around Crenshaw area (Dorsey, LA High), Eastsiders (Roosevelt, Garfield and later Alhambra High). And those from Gardena/Torrance area. There were JAs in other areas but they usually tried to fit into one of these three groups.

So with regard to current AAs, the same principle may still apply: Birds of a feather… Perhaps if there are smaller numbers in each pool, then commingling arises in a move toward solidarity of Asians in general and East Asians in particular. It seems to me that there should be more of this now actually, if JAs in LA are any indication. J-Town was a community when I was growing up, but today there doesn’t seem to be that sense anymore. There is a kind of JA diaspora occurring, with JAs moving out to the suburbs–West Covina, Pomona, Cerritos, Orange County. And teenagers may not have the opportunity to hang with others JAs in large numbers as I did. My cousin’s sons are certainly an example of this.

The bottom line, however, is that I believe that AAs should perhaps loosen these demarcation lines between themselves–if indeed they do still exist. As we continue to be Americanized, we need to recognize that we have more in common with each other than we do with mainstream society. Solidarity is empowering. I don’t mean to sound political, but as we all know, we are often made to feel as if we are different–the other–and to change this we should work together. And the first small step toward creating any semblance of solidarity, is commingling with each other, getting to know each other, and each other’s culture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s