Category Archives: Race Matters: Candid Conversations on Race & Culture

Suicide & Ethnicity: How Asian shame and cultural stigma make Asians prone to suicide in the U.S.

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Photo by JodyHongFilms on Unsplash

Suicide is the leading cause of death among Asian-Americans aged 20-24 years old at more than 30%.  White Americans rank second in this age bracket coming in at under 20%.  Among other ethnic groups, Latinos have a 15% chance of suicide and African-Americans have an 8% rate of dying by suicide.

You may ask how culture can play such a pivotal role in this alarming rate?  First off, Asian immigrants to the U.S. bring centuries-old viewpoints on education, mental health, and cultural identity.  First among these is the understanding of cultural Asian shame.  This is the belief that Asians come from traditional collectivist societies that value interdependence over independence.  Consequently, the need to preserve and perpetuate collective honor (i.e. family, ethnicity, society, etc.) is held in highest esteem.  Failing to do so leads to what I’ve coined as “Asian shame”, where one feels they have so disgraced their kin they must hide oneself (i.e. physical and/or emotionally) or rid oneself from society and atone for their actions by suicide (see past blog titled, “Asian shame and suicide”).

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Jeremy Lin is a Champion: Minutes don’t Matter

Asian Christianity, Race Matters: Candid Conversations on Race & Culture0 comments

When the Toronto Raptors won its first NBA Basketball Championship on June 13th, the nation of Canada exploded in celebration.  One player, Jeremy Lin, a Taiwanese-American was also on the roster.  While his contribution on the court and playing time was minimal, he too celebrated as a member of the Raptors.

When media outlets point out he made history as the first Asian-American NBA Champion, many critics scoffed.  They cited, he only played 27 minutes throughout the entire playoffs, with all the minutes meaningless to the outcome.  

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Culture Class: Western IndivIdualism vs. Eastern Collectivism

Asian Shame, Race Matters: Candid Conversations on Race & Culture0 comments

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

I was reminded once again of how stark the culture clash is between Asian collectivist values and Eurocentric individualistic values when I recently gave a presentation at a college focused on the Asian-American experience.

Sure, when immigrants of any country arrive in the United States there will be a “culture clash” of sorts as they navigate a new language, customs, and the nuances of everyday American life. But for immigrants coming from collectivist cultures of Asia, the value differences between East and West can create a chasm between parents and their children being raised in western society.

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Dolce & Gabbana: Stick a Fork in It

Asian Shame, Race Matters: Candid Conversations on Race & Culture0 comments

The Italian luxury brand, Dolce and Gabbana, is facing a billion dollar backlash from China after Dolce & Gabbana posted video clips on Instagram mocking a Chinese woman seen struggling to eat pizza, spaghetti, and other Italian foods with her chopsticks.In addition to the culturally insensitive ad, the Instagram account also had five smiling poo emojis used to describe China as a pile of excrement.

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“Made in Italy”: The Cost of Cachet

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Anna Utochkina of Unsplash

Italy had always been dear to my heart as I love art, fashion, and culture.  When it comes to design, aesthetics, and hand-made craftsmanship, the Italian heritage had no equal.  Authenticity, quality, and prestige were part and parcel to the “Made in Italy” moniker.   But this legacy is being challenged as the global appetite for luxury goods increases and companies strive to meet these demands by any means necessary.

Gone are the days where Italian handbags, shoes, belts and other specialty items were produced by local, Italian artisans. Instead, the reality of a label stating “Made in Italy” has numerous implications.  On the most egregious end, it may be a product made in another country. Continue Reading

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