- How much I love and value the teachers I had growing up.
- How much I hate what a big revelation the phrase, “He’s just not that into you” is supposed to be. Come on now!
- How much I can’t stand Michelle Malkin and how I am constantly surprised by her continued media presence.
- How much I love the show “So You Think You Can Dance” (I know I wrote that before).
- How I hope I’m not going to obsessively blog about our wedding plans like I did about NaNoWriMo during December of last year.
- How I wonder how to parlay my skillset into doing something “worthwhile” in my “spare” time.
- How much I am looking forward to September (release of Serenity and A Breath of Snow and Ashes)
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Click on the title of this entry to go to blogger to download.
I have no idea why, but my beloved friends and esteemed colleagues seem to believe that there is room for argument on the concept of what it means to be a first, second, or third generation American. Note that people also use the term first, second, or third generation immigrant to describe the same thing.
Ahem. No, there is no room for argument. I don’t say that because I think I’m right, so there! No, I say that because it is the truth. (So there! Hee!) My familiarity of the generation labels does not arise from some introspection and creative wordsmithing. The concepts of the generations are well-documented and accepted among those who study and write about immigration culture, in particular to the US. I have friends who insist I am wrong, but come on! You know you are just going with what you think sounds right, and not from knowledge of the accepted vernacular. I can’t just go around making things up about what I think “queer” or “neo-con” means based on what I feel; I must accept the normative use for these words and so must you!! Accept it! Take it! What’s my name?!!
Here is the breakdown:
- First generation: This is the first generation in your family to move to and to live in America and/or become naturalized. This generation is born in and spent their formative years in a country that is not the US and often (but not always) self-identify their culture to be the one they were raised in, and not the American culture. They are often the ones to have made the decision to immigrate, and were not children that just went along with their parents. Often, but not always, the first generation does not speak English as a first language. Anyway, they are the first in the family to live in America and to become immersed in American culture, the first to have to try to adapt to the new country.
- Second generation: This consists of the children of the first generationers. They are the first generation in their family to be born Americans, but their parents may already be naturalized, thus they are not the first generation Americans. This generation often suffers from a language gap with the parents and may not actually be able to communicate easily with each other (other than the normal parent-child thing). They grow up in a mixed culture — inside the home, it is very clear that they are in the culture of the parents’ origins, but outside of the home, they are true-blue Americans. While they are largely familiar with the superficial layers of their parents’ culture, they do not hold first-hand knowledge of the culture.
- Third generation: This consists of the children of the second generationers (duh). Because they are raised by the second generationers who self-identify largely as plain old American, they often don’t learn any of the language or culture of grandparents, even if both parents are of the same ethnicity. They are Americans raised by Americans, and there is very little to distinguish them from anyone that’s been in the US for hundreds of years.
For the people who can’t take my word for it, here is a list of references:
- The Ilse: First Generation Immigrants in Hawaii, 1903-1973 – Korean immigration
- Dissimilation? The Educational Attainment of Second Generation Immigrants – even immigrants to Germany use the same terms!
- Second-Generation Immigrants in California – pdf WARNING!
Immigration and immigrants 2001: Updated numbers on immigrants – Note: “The immigrant population consists of first-generation immigrants who are born abroad, and second-generation immigrants who are born in Norway.”
- Nisei/Sansei – Note: “The Issei had no easy time after their arrival in the US.” Then later: “The Nisei, their children, were citizens by birth, but did not escape the racism.”
Hmm, I didn’t know about the kibei:
There are also the Kibei, who are the same age as the Nisei and were born in America, but were schooled in Japan, arriving back in this country to live as adults.
Anyway… I fall into the gap between the first and second generation. I was born in Korea and spoke Korean as a first language and even attended school there for a bit. But I was still a small child when I moved to the US. My older brother was 12 years old and had attended up to the 6th grade in Korea, so he’s even further into this category. We are what are called the 1.5 generation.
It’s weird being 1.5 generation because we immigrated with our parents, yet because of exposure to school and peers, we learned the language faster than them. So we end up as translators for our parents and stand in for them when our younger siblings need help in school. It’s fine at my current age of 29, but for my older brother who had to deal with this most, it was not good at the age of 12. Most of my friends who are 1.5 generation grew up feeling like we were really Korean/Chinese/Cambodian/etc deep down inside, remembering the feeling of acceptance when we were kids and the shock of rejection when we moved to the US. Most of us were picked on by our peers and strangers in the streets for being different. But most of us also got a big awakening when/if we had a chance to visit the country we had considered home. It’s most definitely not home. We might have fond memories of the place, but we are like mutant aliens when we visit. We can barely get by with our American accents.
I struggled with issues of cultural identity as an adolescent, but I know where I am now. So this post isn’t really about that. I had to cut myself short when I realized where I was going. That’s just too boring, really. It’s just to clear it up for you peeps who dare to question my wisdom. Hee. Please don’t kick my ass.