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Ten Things To Know About Asian American Youth

I’m in the act of hardcore procrastination, but I had to share this find.

SnapDragon consultants, a market research firm, published this last year, but it’s new to me so here goes: Ten Things Every Brand Should Know About Asian-American Youth (pdf). Very interesting stuff, I wonder if this would change the way Asian American churches would present their programs to youth today. It is, after all, a study for marketing purposes. And I have to wonder if this is already dated since it’s been almost two years this has been published.

  1. Many Asian-American youth feel excluded and misunderstood by most brands. It’s made worse by the fact that they see advertisers actively wooing the African-American and Hispanic markets.
  2. Mixed race kids are proudly identifying as Hapa, a once derogatory word in Hawaiian to mean “half.” Hapa is also slang for marijuana in Japanese (spelled Happa). Hapa is supplanting terms like Amerasian, biracial, and blasian.
  3. Asian-American youth are secret fans of “easy listening” adult contemporary music. Lite FM is a hidden passion.
  4. There’s a “hero gap” among Asian-American kids, which is being filled for many by activists from other cultures. Martin Luther King is a role model and hero to many young Asian-Americans.
  5. Most Asian-American kids refer to white people as “white people” the same way African-Americans do
  6. Underage gambling is huge. The “new” American poker obsession is nothing new to Asian-American kids and gambling has a long history in Asian culture. Many students Rigg spoke with are avid online gamblers and cardplayers. Many organize private online poker tournaments.
  7. Asian-American kids want an end to the hyper-nerdy images of themselves on TV and want to see more punked-out skater and graffiti DJ images which reflect a different energy. The feeling is: Enough with the math geeks, future doctors and violinists. Asian-American kids crave street credibility—not just academic accolades.
  8. Asian-American kids universally hate the question: Where are you from—especially since the answers are usually something like “Westchester” or “Boston.”
  9. All things Korean are hot and getting hotter. Fashion. Foods. DJs. Online communities. Korea is the new Japan.
  10. The 15 minutes of seemingly benign American Idol fame for William Hung had a surprisingly negative effect on Asian-American students. There’s a feeling that Hung perpetuated the worst stereotypes about Asian people and gave non-Asians permission to indulge in two years of racial stereotyping and mocking.

What do you think? Do these ten things ring true for you or the youth that you know? What would you add or subtract from this list?


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

3 responses to “Ten Things To Know About Asian American Youth

  1. elderj

    actual… it fits me exactly…. 🙂

  2. that’s because you’re practically blasian:P

  3. gar

    Both from my own personal life, and my experiences working with Asian American youth, a lot of the things ring true.

    The one thing I might add to #9 is that since Asian Americans are largely absent from American pop culture, they look to the pop cultures in Asia for trends / heroes / icons, and not just Korea. Japanese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Indian, and Filipino pop culture are all big – just ask how many kids know about K-dramas, drifting (import racing was practically birthed by Asian American youth culture), Jay Chou, bhangra, Manny Pacquiao, etc. Today’s Asian American youth have a much stronger pan-Asian consciousness than generations before them.

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