Tuesday, September 28, 2010

COLUMN ONE: A son's loyalties tested - latimes.com

COLUMN ONE: A son's loyalties tested - latimes.com

This article is a tough read.  It's because I know the man stuck in this sort of existential limbo.  

Brian Doan was one of my fellow Fulbright Hayes GPA participants from Long Beach City College. Without this project, I probably would never have met him.  I vaguely knew of the controversy connected to his photography show, as he mentioned it in passing. However, I did not fully understand the long standing echoes of the war still present in the Vietnamese community, as well as the compounded nature of assimilating into American culture.  In many ways, his story encapsulates the conflicts of being Asian Pacific American.  

His story is sort of a common story about generational conflicts when they emigrate to the United States.  Children of 1st Generation immigrants often are in conflict with their parents.  With the Japanese Americans, there was a conflict between the 1st Generation (Issei) and the 2nd Generation (Nisei) to such a degree that many Nisei do not read or speak Japanese.  The desire to assimilate was very strong.  There was a study posted on NPR called how appropriately, Immigration Study: 'Second Generation has an Edge'.  For Asian families, loyalty to the family is placed very high, but this often conflicts with American social norms.  The Migration Information Source discusses this matter very closely.  Basically, it is an issue of assimilation as noted in Asian Nation.

Brian's basic problem is not unusual.  What is unusual is that Art now is in conflict with the conservative sensibilities of his community.  His story exposes the real rifts within Little Saigon.  It reminds me of the conservative nature of Cubans in Miami who hate Castro.  For many Asian Pacific Americans, it is always a matter of trying to find the balance.  The problem is that sometimes the balance is not exactly easy to get.

The Asian Pacific American experience is in some ways more complex if you are part of a second generation wave.  The complexities of dealing with expectations of parents versus expectations within American society do not always mesh together.

Well, I could say that Asians Rock anyways.  Rock on Brian.

Ultimately, everything is about finding that balance.  Balance between generational expectations.  Balance between Art and Life.  Balance between Asian sensibilities and American sensibilities.  As Miyagi would say, "Whole life have balance."  It's something we all do.  I still do it myself.

I firmly believe we all eventually find a balance.  We all find the way if we continue to pursue it.  What will come of this all is unknown.  But then, Brian's a smart dude.  The fact that it is being covered by a paper means that he is working on this project.  Keep the faith man.  Keep the faith.  Remember, Maya Lin was savaged for her Vietnam Memorial proposal.  Now, it's a destination point.    

Some artists want to confront. Some want to invoke thought. They're all necessary and they're all valid. 
Maya Lin