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Asian-American Identities

How is a sense of Asian-American community — or communities — being fostered in Oregon?

This weekend marks the opening of DisOrient, the third annual Asian American Film Festival in Eugene. On Saturday, the Asian Reporter is honoring the achievements of Asian-American students and community leaders from across Oregon at its annual banquet. And just around the corner is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, an annual celebration of (and reflection on) the Asian-American experience.

But the neat term “Asian-American” isn’t nearly as cohesive as these events might imply. It encompasses an extremely wide range of individuals — from people who moved to Oregon from Korea in the 1960s to third generation Japanese-Americans raised in the US to Chinese immigrants who arrived yesterday. Some people in the community embrace a pan-Asian identity. Others question it, arguing that it blurs historical and cultural differences in the search for a unified voice.

Is the term “Asian-American” a misleadingly broad label to refer to distinct groups and experiences? What are the benefits of a general label for a diverse group of people? What are the challenges? More broadly, how exactly is a sense of Asian-American community — or communities — being fostered in Oregon?

And where do you fit in? Do you consider yourself a member of Oregon’s Asian-American community? Or do you use a hyphen to describe who you are, but with a different identifier at the beginning? How does that relate to your sense of community?

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