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Growing up Asian in America

In “Growing up in America” Kesaya E. Noda depicts how one’s sense of identity is formed not only by their own culture and history, but also by societal notions of that culture expressed through stereotypical labels. 

Presumptions about a person’s traditional practises may urge them to disassociate with their culture. This prejudice heavily influences their interpretation towards their own identity, as displayed by Noda’s recollection of her own experiences growing up as a Japanese woman in a primarily Caucasian dominated country. Noda struggles to find a sense of belonging in a community that continuously allows ignorance and insensitivity to impact the treatment of those who partake in the practice unfamiliar cultures. Furthermore, this bigotry is historically demonstrated through the concept of Japanese internment camps during the World War II era. Noda portrays the consequences of how past occurrences still affect the Japanese community in the present day, “Events that had happened quite apart from the me who stood silent in that moment connected my face with an incomprehensible past. ‘Your parents were in California? Were they in those camps during the war?’ ” Noda illustrates the discomfort she faced while being confronted with her family’s history through imagery. She recalls automatically being connected to events and characteristics due to societal expectations of her identity as a Japanese-American that contribute to stereotypes. Dismissing her individuality plays a significant role in the shaping of her own outlook and self-acceptance regarding her identity. Noda has difficulty labelling her cultural identity since she participates in both American and Japanese customs. However, her physical appearance does not resemble society’s image of a typical Caucasian American on account of her Asian features, “A third-generation German-American is an American. A third-generation Japanese-American is a Japanese-American.” The comparison of these two races symbolises the intolerant mindset that people of colour are forced to endure the effects of. Such biased treatment further intensifies dissociation and isolation, while favouring the ignorant and unaccepting attitude, overall altering one’s identity.