Ethnic and Race Formation and the Internet

Stephanie Luu Soc 0835, Sec 002 Yuichi Moroi November 9, 2010 Ethnic/Race Identity Formation and the Internet Throughout the course of American history, immigration from around the world has been occurring. The result from the different people emigrating from such varying parts of the human race creates the diversity in American society. As different ethnicities come into America, racial discrimination and stereotypes are created. Ethnic identity starts to become an issue where immigration, sexuality, religion, politics, and social change begin to shape how race and ethnicity are constructed and perceived in the American culture.
In contemporary society, the internet serves as an additional element of the construction and shaping of these social identities. People are capable of using online networks and databases to learn about different cultures. By pressing a few buttons and clicking search, information is instantly displayed and questions can be immediately answered. The concern of the matter lies behind the authentication of the content; information posted on the web does not have to be validated by academic scholars to be published. Knowing the criteria for assessing web pages, the obtaining of misleading information can be avoided.Stereotypes generally occur among races that appear to differ from one’s own. It happens as a result of a person’s subconscious mind to group and generalize a person by their descriptions and physical attributes.
These classifications can be positive or negative, which creates an issue with the construction of social identities of different racial and ethnic groups. Being that the first groups to arrive to America can be generally stereotyped as “white”, people of other descents are known to be minorities. Some of these groups include black people, Hipic people, Indian people, Asian people, and more.The focus of this paper will be on those of Chinese descent; in particular, the stereotypes of Chinese people and how information on the internet perceives them. Despite if a person is Chinese or Korean, the individual is likely to be stereotyped as Asian. Their skin color may be similar to those considered “white”, but their hair color and facial attributes differ in the sense that they cannot be stereotyped as white. Nazli Kibria, author of an article in Sociological Perspectives, examined further into the dynamics between Asians and non-Asians by studying the interaction of everyday social encounters between the two.

Kibria aimed to explore two central aspects of the common stereotypes: “sameness” and “foreignness”. She shares of an incident where she was watching “M*A*S*H” and saw that a supposedly Korean character was wearing a Vietnamese-style hat wandering around in a village that appeared to be Japanese-oriented (Kibria 81). She was outraged by the fact that was evident that the show created an “Asian scene” based on a stereotypical idea of what an Asian person looked like and what was presumed an Asian environment.Such incidents are absurd to those who come from different backgrounds, while those who are not able to differentiate race and ethnicity do not find any offense to these encounters. She also noted that a family was asked to pose for a picture in the town paper wearing native garb without regards to what the occasion was. The picture turned out to be on the front page of a small daily newspaper next to recipes of egg rolls in celebration of Chinese New Year. We were their token Oriental family—Chinese, Korean, it was all the same” (Kibria 82).
Even differentiating the two, the town had no remorse. “Korean” and “Chinese” seemed to be synonymous with the term “Asian” because both could be generalized into that. Another incident occurred where an American company was about to make a deal with a Japanese company, and workers asked a fellow Asian worker, “Hey Karen, tell us how we should deal with Japanese so that we get what we want. ” Her response was, “You guys, I’m Chinese…born and raised here”.Immediate reaction, “OK, but Karen, you have to admit that you probably have a better sense of the way Japanese culture works than we do” (Kibria 83). Quickly, it is evident that these Asians are stereotyped into one generalization that relates each individual country with one another. These stories show similar cases in which Asians are linked together by culture and physical attributes, even being that they are of different ethnic groups.
This may induce problems to the social construction of Chinese people due to them wanting others to recognize and acknowledge their differences.The website that contained the above information was from an article called “Race, Ethnic Options, and Ethnic Binds: Identity Negotiations of Second-Generation Chinese and Korean Americans” in Sociological Perspectives. This article was found on an online database called JSTOR, and it is a credible source because the database is “. org”, which identifies its association with an educational institution. This information is both empirical and scholarly based because she uses endless examples of experiences to explain her theories of stereotypes.This relates to the scholarly aspect because she uses psychological studies to analyze the different behaviors in the surrounding atmosphere. It is quality information because the author is identified with a University, and the publisher is copyrighted.
The information is not biased because it also describes perspectives of the life behind a white person’s eyes as well as a black person’s. It does not lead to potential stereotypes, but it does make awareness of stereotypical incidents that subconsciously happen in everyday life.In relation to the stereotypical occurrences that happen daily, these incidents appear to shape the behaviors of ethnic identities, especially those among the second-generation Chinese Americans. In Baozhen Luo’s “Social Construction of Chinese American Ethnic Identity: Dating Attitudes and Behaviors among Second-Generation Chinese American Youths”, Luo makes an argument that “second-generation Chinese youths construct their dating values and identities through both differentiating and integrating their parents’ and white peers’ dating cultures and gender norms” (Luo 1).Luo, being a second-generation Chinese American, provides a summary of what his parents wanted of his life, the kind of lifestyle he grew up in, and the battle between the two. Education was first, then dating and marriage came later; most importantly the family’s attitudes towards interracial dating. He says that “Chinese American youths constructed and reconstructed their own dating values, gender norms, and ethnic identities through various processes of picking and choosing from both cultures” (108).
Luo argues that American culture cannot explain the complexity of the dating culture created by the second-generation Chinese American youths but that it is shaped by growing up in the middle grounds of two different cultures, allowing for an individual to adapt to both. Baozhen Luo’s article is a thesis brought to the public by the Department of Sociology at Digital Archive at Georgia State University. This is a scholarly and credible source, which also contains a reference at the bottom of the works cited. The information is a summary of his own life experiences so it may be a little biased because this will not pertain to every individual.But to my own experience growing up as a second-generation Chinese American, it is very similar and accurate. It may lead to potential stereotypes in the sense that people may think all first-generation Chinese Americans are narrow-minded and racist in a sense, where they want their child to marry only within the race. The construction of the Chinese American identity is not accustomed by the American way of life but by the intuition of the Chinese people themselves.
Joseph Wu’s “Filial Piety and Chinese Culture” explains that the foundation of morality of Chinese culture is filial piety.Filial piety is respect for one’s parents and ancestors—the virtue to be held above all else. He discusses that in the traditional West, the ultimate moral authority is God or Spirit, but in Chinese culture, the ultimate moral authority is still in the human world (Wu 2). By means of that, filial piety is a product created by Chinese culture, meanwhile for the traditional Westerners moral principles are by God or spiritual creation. While religion is essential, valuable, and necessary in the traditional West, there exists no formal religion in Chinese culture. According to the common sense of Chinese people, China has three major religions: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Nevertheless, Confucius is natural and humanistic.
He is not a God, but only a human being” (Wu 4). That argues in favor that the Chinese value humanistic reality over spiritual power. He also refers to Buddha not being a God but a human being having been enlightened. To some extent people believe that filial piety is a substitute for their religion because it serves as the worthy power and authority. The Chinese perform filial piety to liberate human beings from the fear of death (Wu 5). In Chinese culture, the initial way for conquering death is giving birth to a male-child, and hoping the male-child to continue to produce male descendants” (Wu 5). The purpose of this is because only the male can attain continuity of family life, considering females generally take after the husband’s name.
Though the extremities of Chinese culture and its religion appeared to be evident through the above examples, this website is not a reliable source. The website lacks accountability; it has an author but no email nor information (degrees, educational background) indicating whether the author is credible.The website also does not provide a date that shows when the page was updated so it is not safe to say the information is accurate. The page has notes at the end, but no works cited or reference page–the above source is not quality information. The information is biased because the only recognition mentioned says, “The author of this essay has been a performer of filial piety” (5). This holds relevance to why the author was such a firm believer that Chinese culture is shaped by filial piety. The construction of social identity of Chinese culture was attempted to be explored through information accessed on the web.
Any information without credibility may be posted on the web and assessed by anyone. This may lead someone to be misinformed when trying to learn about the construction of an ethnic or racial identity because the reader may be reading falsified information. The exploration of a person’s racial and ethnic identity can be successfully attained if done with proper search methods. I think the internet is a good tool for exploring people’s racial and ethnic identities because the world contains an extreme amount of different ethnic groups that you may never even encounter.With the internet, people are able to learn about different cultures even if they never get to interact with one.Works Cited Kibria, Nazli. “Race, Ethnic Options, and Ethnic Binds: Identity Negotiations of Second-Generation Chinese and Korean Americans.
” Sociological Perspectives 43. 1 (2000): 77-95. JSTOR. Web. . Luo, Baozhen. Social Construction of Chinese American Ethnic Identity: Dating Attitudes and Behaviors among Second-Generation Chinese American Youths.
Thesis. Georgia State University, 2006. Sociology Theses. 2 Aug. 2006. Web. .
Wu, Joseph S. “Filial Piety and Chinese Culture. ” Thome Fang Institute. Web. .

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