Why Are Asian Americans a Forgotten Sub-Culture and How Are They a Part of American History?

Faculty Mentor(s)

Anna Bonnema, Hope College
Dr. Wayne Brouwer, Hope College
Dr. Charles Green, Hope College
Amy Otis-DeGrau, Hope College
Yolanda Vega, Hope College
Professor John Yelding, Hope College

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Why do most Americans only learn about some ethnic minorities, but not others? Why are there official holidays for some groups, but not for all? How is it that an entire community—Asian Americans—can be so unrecognized for their part in American history? The perspective from which most Americans learn history is predominantly that of an affluent white American, and most of the nation views race and ethnicity primarily though a black-white paradigm. Few history books are written from an Asian American perspective. Despite this, over the last 50 to 60 years there has been an Ethnic History revival, where more and more minorities are sharing their culture and telling their stories. There are more than twenty different nationalities under the umbrella of Asian America, so it is impossible to classify them into a single group. Each ethnic group has its own distinct culture and history. Different Asian groups came to America at different times and for different reasons. Once they were allowed into America, they found they had few rights. Discrimination against Asian Americans is rarely acknowledged by others; yet it is a common theme throughout their history, and is one of the biggest barriers in changing how others view and treat Asian Americans today. Many stereotypes and myths exist about Asian Americans, including the most popular—the “Model Minority.” The nation as a whole needs much more information about Asian Americans, and a much stronger commitment to including Asians in the national mainstream. America must define itself as what it purports to be—a nation founded on liberty and justice.


This research was supported by Hope College Chemistry Department Start-up funds.

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