Who’s an Asian American artist?

79935303 Daisuke Tohyama

Who’s an Asian American artist?

When I read the Collective, I was surprised that the short book includes many issues such as identity, language barrier, sexuality, model minority myth, authenticity of culture, mental health, parental style, and so on.

In terms of identity, one thing I noticed is that Joshua’s identity comes from multiple factors. In chapter 8, he visits Korea to search his birth parents. However, he feels uncomfortable with being in Korea because he does not speak Korean well. Korean people consider him as a American. Then He starts joining anti-transracial adoption movement to argue that white families who adopted Asian children were selfish. He does not like his foster parents. This scene includes diaspora and model minority myth. Joshua does not belong to Korean group nor American group even though he dreamed Korean was his place because of language barrier. Also, his foster parents may have expect him to be a good Asian boy or studious. However, he chose to be a novelist. He was not fitted to the myth, which may affect his feeling against the parents.



One of questions I am interested in is what a role of Asian American artists is. When racial insults words are written on the Joshua, Eric, and Jessica’s chalk board, three of them have to decide whether they speak out that they get racial insults with risk which may leads to victimization of themselves. Around at 97 page, they argue about the topic. Joshua says “We go public.” Jessica and Eric say “I don’t know.” (Lee 97) That argument reminds me of Who killed Vincent Chin?. When Asian Americans are targeted at by non-Asian Americans, they would recognize there are racial issues and stand up. I think Joshua tries to tie 3AC together and stand up as an Asian American. Not only this scene, does the book have some ideas that Asian Americans have to speak up.

While Joshua always claims to speak out Asian American racial issues, claiming that Asian Americans are marginalized or victimized will not easily deconstruct reality as history tells you. When Japanese Americans published works about victimized Japanese Americans, they were criticized by mainstream society. Also, this book includes an argument of what topic Asian American artists should talk about. In chapter 13, Esther and Eric argue about whether Asian American artists have to portray or talk about Asian Americans in their piece or not. Speaking out is not the only way to change the world. If Asian American artists get prizes in the mainstream art industry, people would consider them as authentic artists. Authentic artists may have more power than just an artist. The argument also reminds me of culture reference. For example, who are the culture experts? or are there any White Americans more familiar with part of Asian cultures than Asian Americans? This argument also includes diaspora. I have a friend, who is Caucasian and lived in Okinawa in Japan, moved to Taiwan, and then moved to California. She speaks fluent Japanese, Taiwanese, English, German. She knows Okinawan culture even than me.




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