21 Jan 2021

On Asian American Identity

But as with everything, the tides are quickly changing – and for Asian Americans, I believe the tides are shifting in our favor (as with other minorities). There are several key trends that I think will change the landscape for Asian Americans in the next 5-10 years.

A generation of Asian-American millennials (the children of a wave of Asian immigrants fleeing post-World War II instability in Asia) are now coming of age. Armed with strong incomes ([33% higher] than the national median and rising), they are spending their money on cultural items that appeal to them. Forbes estimates that the Asian American consumer market is now over [$1.2 trillion dollars]. An even larger crowd of rich (and crazy rich) Asians from Asia are taking part of their fortunes and spending it in America. There is now a massive market for culture, entertainment, and goods tailored to Asians and Asian Americans, whereas previously there wasn’t. 

With this trend, I think we will see a marked increase in appeal for “Asian American” cultural products. Things like Asian American targeted film (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell, Shang Chi), Asian food trends (boba, ramen, soba, udon, and now smoothie teas), Asian media products (anime, k-dramas, k-pop), and even industries disproportionately popular with Asians such as gaming (esports, streaming) continue to grow – powered by a tailwind of Asian Americans willing to spend on them. Movies that are unabashedly Asian in nature, such as Minari, Over The Moon, and Tigertail will continue to attract capital, perform well, and carve out mainstream presence. Just as [Black cinema] has grown and moved into the mainstream, I expect Asian cinema to have a similar movement.

The end result will be a massive shift in the narratives we tell ourselves about Asian Americans. And as these narratives shift, we will see a wholly more rich exploration of the Asian American identity.  We already see evidence of this: [an Asian boy band] was nominated for a Grammy, the [best motion picture of the last year] was from Asia, and Asian Americans are becoming more and more common in [politics] and [sports] headlines. The tides are shifting and show no sign of slowing down. What the next generation of Asian Americans has in store may just be a world where they can explore their identities in a fullness of expression never seen before – and for all we know, [the sky’s the limit].

Posted on January 21, in Life

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