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  1.  Asian American identity development    


    1. Drawing on the article by Daniel Eisen entitled “Identity Formation,” analyze the Asian American identity development of two (for example, #’s 1 & 4, or 3 & 4) of the following four options below:

      Author (and former hip hop DJ) Jeff Chang. [week 2]

      2. Poets Janice Mirikitani, Jessica Hagedorn, and Al Robles in the Russell Leong article “Poetry Within Earshot.” [week 4]

      3. Author Chitra Divakaruni and the fictional protagonist she created for “Clothes” named Sumita. [week 5]

      4. Jin Wang, the fictional protagonist of the graphic novel American Born Chinese. [week 10]

      Next, develop a central argument (that is, a thesis) that is derived from a topic(s) featured in our class—for example, such topics may include cultural assimilation, pluralism/multiculturalism, the melting pot, the default, troublemaking, colorblindness, and so forth. Finally, use your Eisen-based analysis of the two examples above as your evidential support to demonstrate your thesis.


Subject Article Analysis Pages 4 Style APA


Asian American Identity Development

            Eisen states that human identity is affected by individualistic, psychological, sociological and structural factors. In this regard, people’s perceptions about themselves or others in the society will be influenced by these factors. Consequently, in the process of identity development, Eisen notes that one or more of the factors play a dominant role. For instance, for the Asian Americans, attachment to one’s Asian heritage is an illustration of psychological influence where as being attached to fellow Asians during general interaction  is an illustration of racism, a sociological factor. Based on these statements, it may be argued that identity development is an individualistic process, however, Eisen states that this development is based on sociocultural environments. To illustrate this argument, the experiences of Jeff Chang and Jin Wang are analyzed.

Thesis Statement: Cultural assimilation is the main factor in the identity development process of Asian Americans. Leaving in a society dominated by native Americans, Asian Americans are identified by their language and accorded various attributes by dominant groups in the society as illustrated by Jim Wang. However, through continuous interaction, the Asian Americans like Jeff Chang are accepted in their societies.

            In the novel American Born Chinese, the author, Gene Luen Yang effectively uses graphics and nine key characters to illustrate the challenges faced by Asian Americans in the United States (Song, 2010). Jim Wang, the main character in the novel relocates from Chinatown in San Francisco to another town dominated by whites. He joins a school within the area and attempts to survive despite being part of the minority group in the area. His quest to be assimilated in the white dominated society was characterized by his commitment to different types of relationships. To begin with, Wang identified another immigrant from Taiwan called Wei-Chen Sun who later became his best friend. On the other hand, Wang developed romantic feelings for a girl called Amelia. Although this girl was an American, Wang’s crush on her caused him to pursue the girl. Nonetheless, when Wang decides to commit to the relationship, Glen, Amelia’s friend asks Wang to end the relationship between them since, she (Glen) felt that Wang was not the best partner for Amelia.

            On the other hand, the novel describes another character called Danny, an American boy leading an ordinary American life but hates his cousin who follows the Chinese culture right from his dressing to his character. This extreme adherence to the Chinese traditions annoys Danny to the extent that he considers his cousin an embarrassment. To this point, it is clear that in the quest for assimilation, various characteristics affect the nature of interactions within a society. In Jim Wang’s case, cultural as a sociological factor was the main identical feature for most of the characters. For instance, while choosing a friend in the new school, Wang identified one with whom they almost shred similarities in terms of races. Wang was a Chinese immigrant while his friend Sun was a Taiwanese immigrant. Nonetheless, as the two boys developed the desire for intimate relationships, they opted chose girlfriends from their class. Although it would be expected that the boys would want to identify with their own by choosing an Asian girlfriend, Wang opted for a native American girlfriend.

            Wang’s selection and desire for an inter-racial relationship illustrates the quest for identity development among the Asian American society. Rather than associating with people with whom they share cultural practices, Asian Americans are able to interact with others and also lead the world in promoting diversity through cultural assimilation. One pioneer to the quest for identity development among the Asian Americans and other races is Jeff Chang. According to Gnomes (2010), Jeff Chang is a Hawaiian who migrated to the United States where he finished his education and joined or initiated a number of programs to discourage any forms of racial discrimination towards an integrated society. As a music producer, Chang was also able to balance between music composition and the sensitization of people through books and novels in order reach out to people like Danny who considers his cousin as an embarrassment to him. Lastly, despite the growing sensitization on the need for cultural diversity among various cultures, some Asians maintain the previous cultural standards. For instance, Chin-Kee (Danny’s) is a stereotype and may therefore take long to develop within the society since his cultural practices may limit the amount of interaction with his peers.


            Human beings perceive themselves according to the psychological, social, structural and individualistic factors. These factors also influence the amount of personal development exhibited by different people. Accordingly, Asian Americans in the United States use cultural assimilation as an important tool in fostering identity development. Although they may limit their initial interactions to people of the race, Asian Americans also interact with the natives through relationships. Wang developed an intimate relationship with Amelia who was a native and despite being encouraged to end the relationship, the attempt to get into the relationship was a positive effort towards identity development. Lastly, Chang as  a learned and skilled Hawaiian promotes identity development through elimination of racial barriers in human integration. These efforts will contribute to identity development among Asian Americans and other races.




Song, M. H. (2010). “”How good it is to be a monkey”: comics, racial formation, and American Born Chinese”. Mosaic (Winnipeg) 43 (1).

Gnomes, C. (2010). “Navigating Through Social Norms, Negotiating Place: How American Born Chinese Motivates Struggling Learners”. English Journal 100 (2): 68–76.



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