Part Asian, 100% Boy

Paper Tiger

Drawing of a tiger, by Little Brother

Have you read Wesley Yang’s Paper Tigers essay in New York Magazine? In it, his personal story is combined with interviews with other Asian American men to the conclusion that It Really Sucks to Be an Asian Man. I’ve been following the Asian American blogosphere and Tweet-o-sphere’s furious reaction to this piece, such as Jeff Yang’s take on Original Spin or Sylvie Kim’s Open Letter to Wesley Yang on Hyphen Magazine.

The thought that’s stuck with me as I’ve been reading all the Paper Tigers responses is: This is what my boys have to look forward to?

Of course, that’s supposing that Yang’s pessimistic (no dates, no promotions, no self-esteem) view of Asian American manhood holds some credence. As a mom, I tend to be a worrier anyways — I can lose sleep over whether my children are getting their recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C (probably not) — and I have to admit I’ve wondered whether a (very nice) teacher was jumping to conclusions when calling my son a good boy.

For me, this paper Tigers discussion is an opportunity to reflect on how to raise Asian boys, something Big Wowo at Rice Daddies wrote about in Raising Asian Boys Into American Men, even before this whole brouhaha. If you read it, check out the two links within the post. They’ll take you to other posts which reflect on the different cultural norms dictating what’s considered masculine in Asia and the U.S.

My husband is white, so he can’t exactly model how to be an Asian man, and my boys are only part-Asian, anyway. I wonder how their experiences as Hapas will differ from their 100% Asian peers. I hope their lives will be easier, yet I feel guilty for even admitting this.

Kip Fulbeck, the godfather of all things Hapa, wrote in the current issue of the Asian American Literary Review about his experiences with Hollywood — and being neither Asian enough to play the Chinese computer nerd nor white enough to play the Hero.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on raising happy, confident Hapa boys…


  1. says

    I think that if one limits himself to what has already been created for him to participate in he is doomed. His struggle is no different than any other minority. I fight to not be sterotyped as a welfare mother. Nobody looks at me(African American) even in 2011 and thinks I have a college degree, speak Japanese, and love dance music. O-Well, this is America dude!

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