Brisbane VS Vancouver – 2nd Generation Asian Culture

Since Brisbane is a relatively young city (it wasn’t incorporated until 1902), I feel the tension of narrow mindedness more than I’m used to; especially racially.

I realise that Vancouver is a young city too (it was incorporated as a city in 1886). However, I can’t help but to notice how much more comfortable I feel with my cultural identity there.
In Vancouver, most of the Asian immigration occurred in the 1980’s (ie. my parents’ generation). So while those 1st generation immigrants were establishing themselves, they obviously had kids (ie. my generation; 2nd generation kids). Because I’ve always been exposed to the 2nd generation Asian-Canadian demographic, I’ve always felt comfortable identifying with it.

What does a 2nd generation Asian-Canadian look like? Well, I guess I could use myself as an example. My english is more or less equivalent to any other Caucasian-Canadian around my age. My customs and values are a unique blend of traditional Korean ones, plus many similar ones to any other Caucasian in Vancouver. This is all sounds ridiculously obvious, right? Well…you’d be surprised to see how different the conceptions are in Brisbane.

A majority of the [racially] stereotyping comments I’ve ever had directed to me in my life have happened in my short 8 months in Brisbane. If I were given a penny for every, “wow, how is your english so great?” type of comment I’ve heard here, I could publish my findings in a scheming “Get rich, NOW!!” book.
What’s most shocking to me is that most of the racial comments I’ve had directed to me were from 2nd generation Asian-Australians (ie. Asians who were raised in Australia, while their parents immigrated from Asia years back). Ironic, eh? While they are 2nd generation Asians themsleves, they’re STILL confounded by meeting other Asians that aren’t “fresh off the boat” (aka FOBS–a derogatory way of referring to Asian immigrants).

It’s like 2nd generation Asians in Brisbane haven’t found their identity yet. From what I’ve seen, they haven’t even acknowledged themselves, for that matter.
Was this what Vancouver was like during the first few influxes of Asian immigration in the 80’s? I also wonder if this gives me a morsel of insight regarding the segregation that my parents faced when they first moved to Canada. It’s almost like I’m getting to see history repeat itself (but since I’m a second 2nd generation Asian that’s comfortable with my identity, I’m not supposed to exist in Brisbane yet, haha).
Whooo, it’s like time travel.

Because I’m observing this segregation from an outsider’s perspective, I don’t feel like I have a place here. I’ve never been one to question my identity as a Korean who was born and raised in Canada, but I refuse to attempt to identify with something that I’m not. I’m not purely Canadian and I’m not a traditional Asian. I’m a bloody Asian-Westerner, don’t you know what that is?!

I have to say that the biggest problem I have with all of this is that I see the surpressed potential for Asians to advance in such an closed-minded environment. If people are ignorant to the different types of people out there, they’ll stereotype and in turn, stifle others’ confidence. I’m encouraged when I peek online and see all the innovative and respected roles that asians are taking in Vancouver. While that could lead me to be disappointed at Brisbane’s (virtually non-existant) Asian-Australians scene, it actually ignites a bit of a desire in me to show others that 2nd generation Asians do exist and that they’re unique and as innovative and capable as any other Brisbanite.


Related Bits:

Interesting Study:
[click] – “This article argues that the pro-school conformity of Asian-Australian young women sets them in a problematic and precarious relationship to the material and symbolic and processes of racialisation.”

a Brisbanite who’s acknowledging the fact that asians don’t seem to have a distinct subculture in Bris:
[click] – “In fact, for the most part the idea of a separately defined Asian ‘community’, something apart and even alienated from the older, Australian hub culture, seems kind of weird.

An interesting little resource put together of the, “historical, demographic, political, and cultural issues that make up today’s diverse Asian American community.”