There’s confusion over what it means to be Asian-American

In recent years, Asian-Americans have been represented in the mainstream more than they ever have been before in films such as “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Life of Pi,” in music with M.I.A. and Far East Movement, and in TV with Mindy Kaling (“The Office”), and John Cho and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar film series).

In fact, Asian-Americans have surpassed Hispanics to become the fastest-growing immigrant group in the United States.

But is visibility enough?

There seems to be confusion over what it means to be an Asian-American as a survey conducted by Princeton shows.

The survey, interviewing 374 Princeton undergraduates, showed that while almost all students said they believe people of East Asian descent are Asian-American, only one-third said they believe those of South Asian descent are Asian-American.

Additionally, 42.5 percent said they believe Pacific Islanders are Asian-American. 11.5 said Middle Easterners are Asian-American.


What respondents believe to be Asian-American. Photo credit: Princeston Asian American Studies Committee

Ranking similarities, those surveyed said Asian-Americans were racially, culturally and politically more similar, but that economical and historical similarities were not strong.

This study shows that while Asian-Americans are more visible, they’re not completely understood.

Take it from someone who’s been in argument debating whether or not his being Filipino made him Asian or a Pacific Islander.

Psst. I’m Asian.

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