Opinion | Is It Time to Abandon the Idea of an ‘Asian American’ Identity?

Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, and understanding their representation in culture, politics, and society is becoming increasingly complex.

In this month’s New York City mayoral election, Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa won 44 percent of the vote in precincts where more than half the population is Asian, a higher rate than any other ethnic group tracked. This came as a surprise, given the widespread belief that Asian Americans, especially the younger generation, are largely liberal.

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One of our guests on this week’s show argues that the conversation surrounding Asian American identity is often limited to up-and-coming mobile immigrants with jobs in highly skilled sectors like technology and medicine. But a vague term like “Asian American” includes everyone from an Indian lawyer to a Hmong refugee, yet the complexities of identification come with a phrase meant to define such a wide range of experiences.

Jane Coston speaks to two Asian Americans who view the term in different ways: writer Jay Caspian Kang, who thinks it ignores class differences and is therefore meaningless, and E podcast co-host Tami Kim, who believes there is value in building political power through regulation About identity and even across these class differences.

(The full text of the episode will be available at midday on the Times website.)

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“The Argument” was produced by Phoebe Litt, Elisa Gutierrez, and Vishaca Darpa, and edited by Sarah Jess; Fact-checking by Andrea López Cruzado; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; Additional engineering by Sonia Herrero; Audience Strategy by Shannon Posta. Special thanks to Kristen Lin and Matt Kwong.

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