Central New York, Community, Education

The Asian-American Juggling Act

Taiwanese-American Hairol Ma poses in a dorm room.

By Anjani Iman, Syracuse N.Y. (NCC News) — Asian-Americans across the country who live in areas of low Asian population, like Central New York, are finding themselves to be caught in a cultural divide. According to Cleveland State University, the percentage of Asian people in central New York is not even two percent.

The small Asian population in Syracuse comprises much of international students and foreign refugees. These people are oftentimes separated from white communities simply by a cultural divide.

Asian-Americans who are born and raised in the United States, like Hairol Ma–a Taiwanese-American student at Syracuse University–makes an effort to distinguish herself from these groups of foreigners.

For some Asian-Americans, it is hard to find their place in their city, when they are not white enough for the white people but not Asian enough for the Asian international people.

For many people of all colors, the underlying problem is microaggression–unintentional insults in brief and commonplace daily exchanges to people of color. Ma says that microaggression is a subset of racism, although much less outright and overt.

Ma said that microaggression stems from illiteracy and ignorance on the topic, but those who make an effort to understand the concept are already making steps to change.