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Differing Korean American perspectives

csaunders's picture

Jamie Lew's article comparing Korean Americans in two different classes and her push at the end that "researchers may benefit by examining race relations beyond a black and white discourse, and how students' racial and ethnic identities intersect with culture, class, race, and school context" (Lew) talks about how different socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic identities shouldn’t be seen in binary. I think that it could benefit everyone, not just "researchers," to consider different outlooks. For example, in another class, we were discussion studies in which women in STEM fields felt that the identity of being a woman and being in the STEM field conflicted which could lead to poorer performance and social interaction. As a woman in STEM, this thought had never occurred to me, yet it resonated with some. Lew contrasts the fact that despite being in the same "category" or "demographic," we might have drastically different opinions, as shown by some of the wealthier Korean Americans casually flip-flopping between being identified as American and Korean while some of the working-class Korean Americans were adamant about not being associated with certain classes or the "studious" Koreans.

I'm wondering how this plays out in administration where it is easy to try to diversify or homogenize a group of students based on race. How could this be ineffective if the administration has not taken into account the students’ own thoughts? And if they want to try to get student input, how do they go about surveying students? I thought it was also curious that none of the accounts of the wealthier Korean Americans acknowledged the fact that there are working-class Korean Americans, whereas for the working-class Korean Americans, their narratives were dominated by resisting the White culture and studious Korean Americans. It reminds me of the stigma that some White people in poverty have to face. 


jccohen's picture


I'm intrigued by your insight at the end of this post that the wealthier Korean Americans don't take note of the working-class Korean Americans, while the narratives of the latter "were dominated by" the former - in the sense that you point out.  This reminds me of W.E.B. Dubois' notion of "double consciousness" - the necessity for oppressed groups to understand dominant groups, while the reverse is not true.  It's interesting to consider in terms of demonstrated intelligence about the world people live in; that is, the working-class group seems to me to be exercising a kind of acuity here as they observe and analyze these 'others'...  What do you think about this?