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Featured Submission: East vs. West Coast Asian-Americans

Posted June 23rd, 2009 by Peter · 5 Comments

Thank you so much for participating in the first Linguify on Father’s Day. There will be more every week from here on, so get ready to learn all your favorite phrases! With that said, this week’s  Featured Submission addresses the demographical divide between East and West Coast Asian-Americans.


A couple of years ago back in high school, I attended a diversity conference NAIS/SDLC (National Association of Independent Schools/Student Diversity Leadership Conference) in Miami. The purpose of the 3-4 day conference was to reinforce our racial identities through participating in “privilege” activities and brainstorming ways on how to improve diversity at our schools.

4 of us represented our upper-class white school- but by some strange stroke of chance, we came to evenly distribute each race (1 black, 1 Latina, 1 white, and me). We were divided into different groups- first randomly, and the second racially.


Of course, I had no crisis figuring out where to go. In our Asian caucus, we divvied up charts taped throughout the room for us freely to scribble on stereotypes associated with the names: such as “Asian dating”, “Asian parents”, and one that stood out to me: “East Coast vs. West Coast Asian-Americans”.

As I was baffled, I skipped that poster. At the end when all permanent markers dried out fromour verbal rants, I saw that the majority of the comments described East Coast Asians as “ghetto”, aluminum_framed_magnetic_whiteboard__dry_wipe_board_poor, who “don’t spend our parents’ money” and West Coast Asians as materialistic and rich, and “more Americanized”. Since I was born a NYC’er (which I guess automatically makes me a hardcore East Coast Asian-American), I replayed visually the few times I visited Los Angeles (the other half of my family lives there) and San Francisco. I remembered noticing that many Asian girls on the street did carry Gucci and Prada purses, and the boys were mostly nicely dressed with gelled hair.

Is there really a sub-culture I’m not aware of? If there is, is it due to oh, maybe the siren-inducing obsession with celebrity in plastic Hollywood? I know these are stereotypes, but all stem from some truth. I mean, I can safely assume that there are more Japanese in Los Angeles than New York. Right? What do you think?

Thanks for the wonderful submission, Asiacana!

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Tags: Environment · Featured Topic · People

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gina // Jun 25, 2009 at 3:16 am

    I think it all depends. I mean look at it this way, the place you visited is LOS ANGELES. Or as I like to call it second home of the asians. L.A. is known for having the biggest population of Koreans, aside from Korea itself! Putting that into mind, its hard not to see more asians with more luxury goods than you would see in new york which might have a lesser population of asians.
    I find that asia itself is really into luxury goods and that probably rubs off. I live in hawaii and we have huge japanese tourism here. Because the cost of luxury goods are cheaper here than in Japan, all the tourists are usually seen carrying at least 6 shopping bags of gucci, prada, miu miu etc etc. Not to mention Japanese people really like Hawaii. So that might also be a reason.

    But as for the regular joes, like me, living on the west coast its really not slanted at all. Mostly in the city side (honolulu) the asians like to sport coach bags and the like but if you go to other places of the island, its not that way at all. Most of the asians on the other side of the island are really laid back and dont care about materialism. You ever seen Nigahiga on Youtube? Hes one example of the laidback asian, and he lives on the big island (the lesser commercialized islands of hawaii)

  • 2 Typical Swat Conversation « Whoaharrisonbergeron’s Weblog // Jun 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    [...] June 26, 2009 · Filed under Uncategorized [...]

  • 3 Anonymous // Jun 26, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    obviously whoever wrote that has never been to new york city

  • 4 Anonymous // Jul 9, 2009 at 8:47 am

    I always thought the Asians on the west coast were more ghetto i.e. Chinese Gangs in LA

  • 5 FrillyLily // Dec 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Alrighty then. What about the other regions? Is there a mix in Southwest/east or Midwest?

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