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I am a wife and mom who has Martha Stewart aspirations and gets stuff done with the grace of Lucille Ball. I would love you to join me on my journey and maybe have some laughs along the way.

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The Hot Mess Life

June 11, 2009

Am I American?

So, I think in a previous post, I mentioned that my mother is from South Korea. She did not come over to the states until she met my dad and they got married. My dad was in the Army and met my mother when he was stationed in Teajon, South Korea. Now, I'm not going to go into the whole mixed raced marriage and how each side didn't like each other, blah, blah, blah. That is for maybe another post.
What I would like to jot down, is how sometimes, i'm not sure what to tell people when they ask, if I am American. I mean, I am American because my father is, but I did live 90% of my life until I was 12 overseas and most of it in South Korea. (Which is awesome by the way, and I would go back and live there in a heartbeat.) So, I guess I am "technically" American, because I do have American citizenship. But, when you live in a foreign country for as long as I did, and are surrounded with two cultures growing up, it is difficult sometimes, to really know who you are.
I like to call myself Asian-American. And to be honest, i'm not quite sure the technicalities of what makes someone an Asian-American. I used to be fluent and am relearning the language, and my mother is Asian, so it makes sense to me to say that I am Asian-American. But, I know this bugs some people. They tell me, "Well, your father is American and you live in America so you are an American." Which is all fine, but just because my father is American does that cancel out the fact that my mother is South Korean. Does it change the fact that i basically grew up with in South Korea, and spent so much time with my Korean family? Does it change the fact that I would rather have Korean food than American food? Does it change the fact that my basic DNA makeup is half Korean and half American? And does just living in America make you and American. Because to be very honest, I don't really feel like and American.
A lot of the things that I do are not very American. A lot of my thoughts, the way I reason things, and the way I act, some are not very American at all. I guess the bottom line is I don't feel like just an "American". I feel like a person who is a mixed race.
It also makes me question the African American label. (And I pray anyone reading this does not take this the wrong way in any shape or form.) Which also brings into question the whole white/black/yellow thing. I jokingly tell my friends that I am a "light beige" or "ecru" color. (By the way, I am not very pc.) If someone whose ancestor was from Africa generations ago and they still call themselves African-Americans instead of just an American, does that mean I

The Namdaemun in Seoul at night.Image via Wikipedia

am able to call myself Asian-American?
Oh well, I guess I can call myself whatever I want to call myself and let people think what they want to think. I do consider myself an Asian-American, I put that on all my paperwork, and if there is not a space for that I check the "Other" box, or now they have a "More than one Race" box. I am so proud of the fact that I am half American and half Korean. I take every chance I get to tell people that I am mixed, I am proud of that fact.
So, I am not trying to start a huge philisophical debate in my head, I am just trying to figure who I am. Or, I guess who I should tell people who I am. All my life I have said that I am Asian-American, so I am going to stick to that story.

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1 comment:

  1. Saw this and thought I would respond...I know it's an older post.

    My mother is half Japanese. She was born in Japan. Her father was an American soldier who married my grandmother and moved her (and eventually her four sisters) to the states. My mom has been in the states for most of her life after the age of 16 because her father died at that time. However, when she fills out the "what's your race card" she always answer Asian-American. Sure, she's American, has a social security number, was born on an American base, etc. but her mother is Japanese and seeing as she is half Japanese, I think it helps her to continue her cultural by stating she is half Asian. Me? I'm 1/4 Japanese and 3/4 other stuff but I just answer American. :)


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