Asian Air 


Asian American Assimilation vs Acculturation
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 06:02:42 PM)

ooner of later every minority person faces the identity question. It comes in a variety of flavors but at its core is the assimilation vs acculturation dilemma.
     What's the difference?
     As used by social scientists, assimilation is allowing one's original culture to be overidden by the dominant culture. Acculturation is acquiring the capability to function within the dominant culture while retaining one's original culture. The distinction seems subtle but is fraught with not-so-subtle social and psychological implications.
The Mirror
Assimilate or acculturate?

     Collectively, the Asian American population shows statistical evidence of both assimilation and acculturation.
     The 2000 Census counted 11.9 million identifying themselves as Asian Americans. That total was comprised of 10.2 million (85.7%) claiming purely Asian heritage and 1.7 million (14.3%) claiming mixed heritage. Of the mixed-heritage Asian Americans, 868,395 (52.4%) claimed part white ancestry, 138,802 (8.38%) claimed part Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander ancestry, 106,782 (6.45%) claimed part black ancestry, and 249,108 (17.7%) claimed another unspecified race. These mixed-race Asian Americans evidence a notable degree of assimilation, especially in light of the fact that in most parts of the U.S. anti-miscegenation laws weren't outlawed until the late 1960s.
     Other statistics suggest Asian Americans prefer to acculturate while retaining their Asian heritage. Spoken language provides some insight into the issue. As of 2000 8.5 million Asian Americans (71.4% of the AA pop.) spoke English "very well". Yet at home 54% nevertheless spoke an Asian language, suggesting an effort to preserve Asian heritage even among those who had acquired the ability to function in the mainstream.
     In the final analysis, the assimilation vs acculturation decision can only be made individually by each of the 13.4 million who make up the Asian American population as of late 2002. The decision may turn on personal factors like length of residence in the U.S., occupation, education, early experiences, family influence and self-image.
     Asian Americans share one commonality which, for some, may override all others: faces that irrevocably distinguish us as members of a minority race -- one which happen to be the plurality in the world at large. This physical identification factor induces some of us to see ourselves as having neither the ability nor the incentive to assimilate like the Irish, Germans, Russians, Italians, Jews, Poles and other European groups.
     Others believe that socio-economic status and not the mirror is the primary criterion for mainstream acceptance. By this measure, we may well have arrived. While only 24% of the overall American population completed at least a 4-year degree, among Asian Americans the college-completion rate was 42% as of 1997. And the college-completion rate is climbing. Among Asian Americans aged 25-29, fully 50% had at least a bachelor's degree. The higher educational levels have translated to higher rates of entry into professional positions (43% vs 27%) and higher median household incomes: 42% of AA households earned more than $75,000 as of 2000.
     Ultimately, the million-dollar question isn't whether we can assimilate, but whether we should. What are the advantages and disadvantages of retaining our identities as Asians in a white-majority society? What's the price paid by those who choose to assimilate? What's better for the U.S. as a nation?

This interactive article is closed to new input.
Discussions posted during the past year remain available for browsing.

Asian American Videos

Films & Movies Channel

Humor Channel

Identity Channel

Vocals & Music Channel

Makeup & Hair Channel

Intercultural Channel


© 1996-2013 Asian Media Group Inc
No part of the contents of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission.


[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
The word (N) is very offensive. It was first used in a derogatory way among Blacks when it was used. For example, some black who really made another black mad or angry because of whatever reason, this word would more than likely be used as similarly as a person may use the cuss word (MF), when you are angry. Well, the N word just was a word used with other cuss words to demean another in the black community.

Blacks, understood, the negativity of the word, and they are well aware of the history of the word and who and why it was created.

It is a shocked to many blacks, including [Me], that this young generation of young black males has eutolized, a word that should have been banned in my opinion.

Now, the word has been popularized by young blacks: my Nigga, what's up nigga's, so on and so forth. Usually, these young black generation X guys say it, but not as much as you may think. A black guy who does not know another black guy would not say: what's up nigga. It is not done like that. Usually, it is between friends who know each other well; as when a group of guys may be drinking and watching a sports game.

The primary group that uses this term "loosely" are Blacks within the low-class of the Race. Those ones in this catergory who are young, and into that Rap/Hip Hop Culture; however, it is not spiritually accepted among Blacks.

As a Black man the word is offensive.

The primary Racial Group Blacks disdain, or have a strong aversion too is the Caucasion Race. In all my years of being around Black people, I have never heard anything said negative about Asians. Blacks as a Race tend to have a kinship with all non-white peoples on this planet.

Now, there have been some friction in recent years in some Urban areas where there have been some conflicts with Asian merchants having businesses in Black communities, but not living there but taking the monies out to Asian communities.
Blackpanther    Thursday, April 17, 2003 at 11:42:23 (PDT)    []
I've got to admit that it's pretty amusing to hear a debate about the use of the "N-word" by a bunch of AA's. Now that's not something you here everyday! :) My personal dig on it, is that as with most things, it greatly depends on one's present company - i.e. their values, beliefs, how "untight/uptight" they are and so forth. Another funny movie scene that comes to mind that should drive the point home was in the movie "Rush Hour". The scene was at a black bar where cops played by Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan went to in order to interrogate someone. The first time around, Tucker greets the bartender saying "hello my nigga" - no problems ... but the second time around, the naive fresh-off-the-boat cop Lee(Chan), ignorant of the term and its meaning, uses the very same greeting ... yup, you guessed it, a big fight broke out! Let's just say that I often call my girlfriends "bitch" (in good jest of course), some of you guys probaby do the same with your own guy buddies as well, but I don't think I would really appreciate it very much if any one of you guys called ME that, in good fun or not! ;)

Here's the link that started it all:

Personally, I strive to be "Fobulous". :)
   Sunday, March 23, 2003 at 23:28:30 (PST)    []
Ignorance is bliss,

Stop using cheap tabloid magazine techniques of sneaky editing. Your attempts to label me as an ignorant miscreant is transparent, and frankly, very WEAK.
   Sunday, March 23, 2003 at 21:10:14 (PST)    []
Geoff DB

"Look at it this way, if they have that disrespect to refer to themselves as "nigga", what do you think they call you and other Asians?"

Hopefully it is just a phase for most adolesent males to go through. By the time they mature we will pray they have a larger vocabulary to say salutations.
AC Dropout
   Saturday, March 22, 2003 at 10:32:43 (PST)    []
I don't get it. But I still stick to what I said.
That's obvious, if you're an AA and you know this term offends most blacks why do you insist on thinking it doesn't? Do you call your Chinese friends "chink?" If some of your black friends don't have self respect and call each "nigga", it saids volumes about you as well.
Ignorance is bliss
   Thursday, March 20, 2003 at 19:07:44 (PST)    []
Geoff DB,

I enjoyed the movie myself as well. But the social commentary of the character was undeniable.

He was the most economically sucessful individual on the bus. However, he did not respect himself nor the other Black people on the Bus. Hence, he was tossed off the bus. Spike Lee was making a statement to the Black community in my opinion. Time to rethink the N-word in hip-hop lexicon.

But I also understand the how the Californian philosophy of "hear it, absorb it, turn it around" might have also pushed N-word and a whole bunch of slurs into popular words with positive connotations.

I believe that was one of the best movie Spike Lee has done in trying to express various issue that plague the black community.

It will probably be a few more generations of asian in the USA before there will be an asian version of 40 acre and a mule production.
AC Dropout
   Thursday, March 20, 2003 at 09:20:51 (PST)    []
AC Dropout,

"Remember the scene in the Spike Lee movie Million Man March. One of the Black characters got tossed off the bus for his obvious over use of the N-word."

Remember it?

I'm still recovering from the cracked rib I got after laughing so hard.

Now, keep in mind, we both know what happened to that fat idiot. He got a stern lecture from Ozzie Davis' character and, eventually, got kicked off the bus by the other black guys.

It was a clear message in the movie that most black guys don't appreciate being referred to that way. He quickly figured it out.

A lot of young black guys who use that word have no respect for themselves or understanding of history.

Look at it this way, if they have that disrespect to refer to themselves as "nigga", what do you think they call you and other Asians?

Food for thought.
Geoff DB    Wednesday, March 19, 2003 at 22:49:21 (PST)    []

Is part of Asian assimilation referring to cool African-American guys as "niggas"? And all this BS about "yellow niggas" is even more BS.

What the hell!

Yea, many young African-American guys refer to themselves are "nigga", but you have to respect the commonality of it and recognize that an offensive remark is less demeaning if it is made to someone of the same race. You feel me???

Asians may call other Asians "white-washed" or "bananas" or "twinkies", etc. However, you can't tell me that you wouldn't feel deeply offended if a black guy called you a "banana". Come on now!

There is no difference between "nigger" and "nigga". It's a racist slur created by white people to denigrate African-Americans. Young black guys and rappers who incorporate these terms in their lexicon and music are depriving other African-Americans of the right to be respected. It's definitely an offensive term. Trust me.
Geoff DB    Wednesday, March 19, 2003 at 22:40:38 (PST)    []

Please man. Most of my friends are Asians. A couple of Hispanic, black and white friends. Do not filter my existence thru a white perspective. What made you think that white people's sub-conscious racism rubbed off of me? I don't get it. But I still stick to what I said.
   Tuesday, March 18, 2003 at 21:06:43 (PST)    []
Remember the scene in the Spike Lee movie Million Man March. One of the Black characters got tossed off the bus for his obvious over use of the N-word.
AC Dropout
   Tuesday, March 18, 2003 at 10:11:56 (PST)    []
Stop being so untight (I believe it's UPtight though):

"Nigga" has entirely different connotations from "Nigger". You're right; "nigga" is a term of endearment between black individuals, but "nigger" is another version of it that is meant to degrade.

Where do you think the term "nigga" comes from? Its the same thing. You say to-mai-to I say "to-MA-doe"

Besides, for a former epithet to turn into a term of endearment, BOTH PARTIES that call each other by that word must, by, default, belong to the group. I'm no crass enough to call black acquaintances "niggas", trust me. You must think everyone here are idiots.

Actually I have friend who calls his black friend a "nigga" and he calls him a "chinca"

So why don't YOU lighten up, and stop being so uptight yourself? =)

I am, you should try it too. Instead of being anal and pointing out my obvious spelling error. I have to make sure I crossed all my Ts now.:)
Just look at all the retards complaning about Asians dying hair and equating that with trying to be white. Some people will find all kinds of reason to complain. I guess I better stop wearing my Levi's or I'll get accuse of trying to be white.

Cheers man.
Stop being UPtight, happy
   Sunday, March 16, 2003 at 17:55:03 (PST)    []

"Nigga" has entirely different connotations from 'Nigger'...'nigga' is a term of endearment between black individuals...'nigger' is another version of it that is meant to degrade."

You've been listening to far too many of your young white buddies and other white people who want to rationalize using "nigga" in a clever, yet poignant way. It's a blatant racist slur.

If you think that respectable African-Americans would be less insulted to hear a white person refer to them (me) as a "nigga" instead of a "nigger", then you must have a hot date coming up with the Easter Bunny.

Can you please dispense of your rationalizing demeaning racist slurs?

It sure would be nice as an African-American to read some more Asian contributors here discuss Asian American assimmilation.
Geoff DB    Sunday, March 16, 2003 at 15:25:42 (PST)    []