James Ong

James Ong is currently a second year MA student in the Asian American Studies Program at UCLA. His research project and focus in this program is on multiethnicity in Asian American communities, specifically the Japanese American experience. The goal of this project is to illuminate what he calls a “double process of racialization”; using both micro and macro narratives, he will demonstrate how multiethnics are “othered” by inconsistent parameters of “ethnic normativity” which inconsistently shift between hereditary and cultural notions of acceptability. While the positionality of “other” is not inherently negative, based on many past and present framings of “ethnic identity,” they are consistently seen “different,” as prepetually “a-part” and “apart” from ethnic communities. Thus, the potential for prejudice and a level of ostracism is inherently present. This is indicative of how ingrained and institutionalized social and political systems of racism are in our daily lives. The persistence of 'monoethnic' paradigms in scholarly discourse, legal policies, educational systems, and daily vernacular perpetuates tropes of “racial purity” that occlude the agency of multiethnic individuals, resulting in varying levels of physical and psychological violence.

Updated October 2013 

identity en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #2—Nikkei+: Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race

"Knowing" Multiethnic Identity; Field Notes on Mr. Virgil Westdale

Identity is a fickle concept. When we talk about “ethnicity” and its ties to identity, we are engaged in a delicate balancing act, making meaning out of how we feel about ourselves and how others view us. Multiethnicity provides a compelling model of this negotiation; “authenticity” fundamentally boils down to an argument over “blood” and “culture,” between what others see and what’s in our hearts.

As a mixed Chinese American and a UCLA Asian American Studies graduate student, I deal with these complexities personally and professionally on a daily basis. My position as an “ethnic outsider” who researches Japanese experiences …

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