Sunday, July 23, 2006

Inter-Asian Wuv

we like same...but different!

My friends E and L got married yesterday in a lovely ceremony, in a church overlooking the Bay Area. Even though it was so hot the whole neighbohood experienced a blackout right before dinner (oops), the vibe was quite lovely nonetheless.

E is Korean, second gen. L is half nisei/half sansei. The ceremony was reflective of the cultural merging: the first ceremony was Japanese Buddhist. Then we had a 30 minute break. Then we came back for the second ceremony which was Korean. I was chasing El-Boogie around at the time so I didn't catch all of it but there were something involving chestnuts, dates and how many children they would have. And then another bit where E carried L on his back around the stage (it was supposed to be his mother but they remixed it). I'd like to joke dinner was kimchee and natto but actually, it was pork loin or salmon.

It dawned on me that I can't remember the last time I've been to a wedding involving two people of the same ethnicities and more so, most of the Asian couples I know are inter-Asian. There's mine of course (Chinese/Japanese), E & L (Korean/Japanese), my ex and her fiancee (Chinese/Japanese), my wife's ex and his wife (Filipino/South Asian), my friend S and her boyfriend S (Chinese/Japanese), our very own Soccer Dad and his wife (Japanese/Hapa(Korean)), and the list goes on. Just a random observation: is it me or are Japanese the dating/marriage equivalent of O-type blood? In the cases of intra-Asian couples I know, one of the partners is usually Japanese. Are they just that damn likable? Or do they just not like one another?

Actually, there's some data to support both claims. Japanese are actually the most likely to marry another Asian but least likely to marry another Japanese. Shout out to my JA friends: what gives? (Note: this stat is only amongst those Asian Americans raised in the U.S. and does not include stats for 1st gen immigration Asians).

What's also interesting, according to that study, is that white men are most likely to marry Japanese women and least likely to marry Vietnamese. White women are most likely to marry Japanese men and least likely to marry South Asian. For black men, it'd be South Asian (most) and Koreans (least) whereas for black women, it'd be Filipino (most) and Chinese (least). Draw what conclusions ye may.

My personal conclusion? There's gonna be a lot of really cute inter-Asian babies in the next generation. Not that I'm biased about my own *cough cough* of course.

--Poppa Large


smurfett said...

i think it goes back to the history of the Japanese in this country. They were one of the first immigrants here. They are now a lot of 2nd and 3rd generations Japanese Americans. Then they were also widely dispersed during WW2 due to the internment camps. More chances for them to meet people outside of their culture when they've been forced to move out of their neighborhoods...


honglien123 said...

Regarding Japanese Americans, there just aren't that many in the United States. You'd be very lonely most of the time if you were Japanese American and limiting yourself to other Japanese Americans. Additionally, I think Japanese Americans and asian immigrants in general in previous generations tried to assimilate more. There was the idea at some point that they were relocating to the US for good.

Which leads me to Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese diaspora did not begin until roughly 1975 making us one of the newer Asian american immigrant groups. Additionally, the majority of Vietnamese in this country are refugees and relocated with the intention that at some point, they would be returning back to Vietnam (something less and less likely as time goes on). I read somewhere a few years ago that 55% of Vietnamese immigrants would go back to Vietnam if it became a democratic country. Perhaps that is why the Vietnamese community doesn't really assimilate.

Assimilation is probably the key right? I mean, does it matter if a couple is Japanese/Korean, Korean/Chinese, Chinese/Vietnamese, etc? If they're second generation they're all really American right?

honglien123 said...

I just noticed that I tend to babble in these comments. Sorry. It's a problem when you type almost as fast as you speak.

peachboy said...

Great photos and caption! As one of Poppa Large's JA friends married to a Chinese/Japanese/Filipina, I gotta respond. If JA's are like O-type blood, then I christen myself the "Universal Donor of Love." But the analogy makes me suspicious. It's akin to believing that the world speaks English because everyone thinks it's a beautiful and intuitive language.

Social scientists have oft tried to explain high JA outmarriage to whites. Like smurfett and honglien123 mention, the contributing factors have been argued to be: WW2 internment resulting in dispersal and assimilationist tendencies/self-hate; diminishing relative community size; and generational advance. I'm not sure about the lingering artifacts of internment. I do agree that the JA community is smaller and weaker, and less infused with new immigrants.

One theme in intermarriage analysis is power -- that intermarriage trends follow certain racial, cultural, gender, political power dynamics; i.e. that the prospect of marrying up or down impact rates.

Japan has a long history of dominating/colonizing/oppressing much of Asia. JA's have had the highest average income among Asian Americans and hold more elected political offices. Given these two conditions that create "status," it seems reasonable that other Asians would be open to marrying up with JA's (an explanation often given for women of color marrying white men) and whites would choose JA's as mates so as to minimize their status decline. A bit of standing provides more opportunities for JA's. Or, this musing is all crap.

The Newbie Dad said...

Our next door neighbors are Inter-Asian. He's JA and she's Chinese. A lot of my friends are also of Inter-Asian decent or are in Inter-Asian relationships. My cousin's (he's Filipino) ex-fiancee is Japanese/Latin American, and his current girlfriend/soon-to-be fiancee is Chinese. Over the weekend we hung out with one of my wife's best friends who is Japanese/Chinese/Filipino. She has a son from a previous marriage and the dad is Filipino/Chinese. She just had a daughter a few months ago and the dad is Japanese/Filipino/Hawaiian.
Another good friend of mine is Filipino-American and his wife is also Chinese. He's a former model and his wife is very beautiful as well. Their daughter is definitely gonna be a heartbreaker. I could go on and on of course.

Anonymous said...

It does seem much more common now (much to the dismay of many Korean parents). My parents (married in '73) were more unusual for their generation (mom is Thai, dad is Chinese from Indonesia). They met in Nebraska - one could make the "when there aren't many Asians around period" argument for their union. I explain my English-only abilities to only English being spoken at home.

papa2hapa said...

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daddy in a strange land said...

Besides what smurfett, honglien123, and peachboy said about JAs, a lot of which helps to explain interracial intermarriage (specifically intermarriage with whites and the whole postwar assimilation thing), I was thinking about this vis-a-vis PL's question about JAs and interethnic AsAm marriage:

okay, take JAs' long history here and their generational isolation (vs. other communities's continued immigration), and add in their pivotal role in the Asian American Movement of the 1960s and 70s and in the conceptualization of a panethnic politicized Asian American identity itself, and you might get generations of JAs not only more comfortable with intermarriage but who see themselves not only as JAs but integrally as Asian Americans, which might lead to a more sanguine attitude re: marriage with AsAms of other ethnic backgrounds... Or as Peachboy said, this musing, too, could be all crap. ;)

Seraph said...

I believe the children of pan Asian American marriages will be the engine that creates the long sought after pan Asian American identity.

One quarter of U.S.-born Asian American males' Asian marriages are interethnic, one sixth of U.S.-born Asian American females' Asian marriages are interethnic.

Just like European Americans who are descended from various warring squabbling ethnicities and became one racial identity through pan European marriages, I believe Asian Americans will also follow this evolution.

For these children, a racial AA identity will take precedence over native ethnicity.