Op-Ed: What Asian immigrants, seeking the American dream, found in Southern California suburbs.
The following story originally appeared in the April 12, 2017 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The story of how the Los Angeles Times launched a new kind of immigrant magazine started as a collaboration between The Times and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). The partnership is an effort to foster understanding between the two groups, to create a more positive dialogue on race and racism, and to bring together people of various backgrounds and experience.
As someone who has spent five years of my life living in California’s suburbs, I feel a connection to these stories, and I hope you do too.
I live in Los Angeles County, which is home to a number of Asian communities. Over the last 14 years, I have attended three weddings and two births at which there were Asian American children. My husband and I have seen our first baby daughter at birth while visiting family who is from Taiwan.
More important, I have seen more than a few stories that have shaken me to my core. In the Los Angeles metro area, there are over 3 million Asian Americans, and yet they are underrepresented in some of the country’s largest media markets.
My generation of young Asian Americans are the ones who are struggling to figure out why. We think the answer is that we aren’t visible, our parents or their parents didn’t tell us, and that’s just our reality.
But if that is the answer, it doesn’t feel very Asian or American.
In our society, we are expected to be white. And while that’s a great achievement to be the only Asian American in our class or the only Asian American at our high school reunion or the only Asian American kid in our dorm, it can be lonely.
For Asian Americans, being the only Asian American in our group can make us feel like outcasts. It can make us feel like we’re not good enough. It can make the idea of a group or an identity that is complete feel foreign and impossible.
For many Asian Americans, the immigrant experience is an even more foreign concept. Immigrants arrive here and expect to stay here. They come from countries they don’t know. They learn English as a second language. They struggle to find a job.
They want to be American. And here we are, the country