“FOB” and “Whitewashed”: Identity and Internalized Racism Among Second Generation Asian Americans

Abstract

An analysis of 184 in-depth interviews with grown children of Korean and Vietnamese immigrants finds that the racial beliefs, meanings, and stereotypes of the mainstream society shape how they think about coethnics, generate local identities, and deflect stigma from themselves. We examine the terms “FOB” (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and “whitewashed” that were commonly deployed to denigrate coethnic “others” as “too ethnic” or “too assimilated” while casting those at the bicultural middle as the “normals.” We describe how this system of “intraethnic othering” serves as a basis for sub-ethnic identities, intraethnic social boundaries, and the monitoring and control of social behavior. We draw on the concept of internalized racial oppression in framing our findings.

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Pyke, K., Dang, T. “FOB” and “Whitewashed”: Identity and Internalized Racism Among Second Generation Asian Americans. Qualitative Sociology 26, 147–172 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022957011866

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  • acculturation
  • Asian Americans
  • ethnic identity
  • internalized racism
  • second generation Americans