An unprecedented sense of Asian American community has manifested itself at Harvard this past year. The recent incidence of hate crimes, such as the racial slurs written on the Lamont Poetry Board, and phone threats to Asian students, have mobilized the Asian American community to express their collective outrage and shock. In addition, the public debate on Asian stereotypes, focusing especially on the "model minority" stereotype, has stimulated much discussion on campus resulting in panel discussions sponsored by AAA, and several articles in The Crimson, The Independent, and other major campus papers.
This growing Asian American awareness further complicates the way we, as Korean Americans, view ourselves. Our identity is a complex amalgam of two cultures, Korean and American, in which the separation between the two is difficult to maintain. Even Koreans who have immigrated a few years ago feel lost when they go back to the frenzied pace of today's industrialized Korea. Now, we must recognize that we are Asian Americans as well as Korean Americans not because Asians are culturally homogeneous (which is far from true), but because stereotypes and prejudice are directed at us as a whole, and when one group is attacked, as in recent Japan-bashing, it inevitably affects other Asians as well. Thus, the Asian American movement can be described as a political coalition to defend our rights as well as a vehicle to educate the public on the culturally diverse elements that comprise the Asian community.
Hence, we titled this issue "identity" to focus on the issue of self-awareness in the context of these cultural and social forces that act upon us. Our feature article "The Other Side of the Model Minority Myth" examines the roots of the Asian stereotype and the extent to which Asians have internalized these prejudices. The articles on Ice Cube's "Black Korea" and the film Mississippi Masala explore the ways in which the media contribute to society's perception of Asians. The personal essays "Grandfather" and "Notes on Eighteen Years" deal with the conflicts of living with two cultural identities, while "Confessions of a Banana" examines the struggle to actually establish an identity for oneself.
The process of finding one's identity is never-ending, for the milieu in which we live-our culture, socio-economic status, family, etc.-is in constant change. So, what it is to be Korean American or Asian American must be reassessed continually, and there will be no final say on the subject. As we celebrate our five years of existence, we hope Yisei will continue to evolve and mature to reflect the changing voice of our community.
-One Danny Yoon