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AUTOETHNOGRAPHY
Asahumanbeing,onewillalwaysfindhimorherselfinteractingwithpeopleatdifferent
levelsandsituations,however,inasmuchastheintentionsthatonehaswhenitcomesto
interactingwithpeoplewiththeknowledgethatallpeoplearediverse(Dill&Zambrana,2020).
Therearealwaysinstancesthatdomakeusasindividualsreactdifferentlywhenwetendtosee
otherpeoplewhoareinonewayortheotherdiversefromus.Inthecurrentworldthatweare
livingin,therearedifferentexperiencesthatpeopledogothroughthatmakesonebelievethat
theissueonequalityonallaspectsoflifefromethnicity,race,class,gender,sexualityandmany
morehavebeenhappeningandtheseinequalitiesusuallydohavetheabilitytoshapeone’s
general life, ideas, identity, career goals and even life chances.
Theseinequalitiesdohaveaverysignificantimpactonpeople’slivesand
understandingthemandseekingawaytoknowhowtodealwiththemisoneofthemost
importantthingthatasanindividualshouldseekdoinginanycaseiftheyaretoavoidthe
negativeeffectthatcomeswiththis.Inmypersonallifetherefore,therehavebeenmanyand
differentinstanceswhereIhaveinonewayortheotherencounteredthesekindsofinequalities
inmylifeandthesehaveaffectedmeinmanydifferentways.Someoftheseexperienceshave
happenedtomepersonallywhileothersIhaveobservedhappentootherpeoplewhoarearound
meandthesespecificallyendedupchangingmylifechances,identity,ideas,careergoalsand
evenmywholelifeingeneral.Thispaperwillthereforebeanautoethnographythatwill
capturemylifeexperiencesinthepastuptothepresent.Thepaperwillcapturedifferentevents
onhowinequalitybasedontheabovementioneddiversitieshaveaffectedmypersonalchoices
in different aspects of life.
Lookinginmypastyears,oneoftheexperiencesthatIhadwithregardstorace
inequalitieswaswhenIwasinmyelementaryschool.SinceIwasinaruralschoolthestudents
intheschoolwereallfromdifferentraces,howeverfromthewaystudentswerebeingtreated,
itwasobviousthattherewereverybiginequalitieswhenitcomestothewayinwhichdifferent
studentsweretreatedbasedontheirrace.Agoodexampleofthiswasthat,whenstudentswere
foundtohavehaddisciplinaryissues,inmostcasesthestudentswhowereblackandthe
Mexicansusuallyfoundthemselvesgettingharshtreatmentcomparedtotheotherstudents
from other races.
Thiswasthereforesomethingthatwasverybadastheadministrationknewexactly
whatthattheyweredoingandinmostcasesthiswasveryuncomfortablewatchingand
experiencingbecauseevenincaseswhenstudentsfromdifferentraceswerebeingpunishedfor
thesamedisciplinaryissue,thepunishmentorthedisciplinaryactionwasdifferentbasedon
race.MostlytheAfricanAmericanstudentsweregivenharshpunishmentsanddisciplinary
actionscomparedtotheotherstudentsfromotherraces.Thiskindofexperiencesfromayoung
agethereforeshapedmylifeandespeciallyontheideaofraceandIhavealwaysseemedto
unconsciouslybelievethatinthecountryraceisoneofthefactorthatmightdetermineyour
life,theAfricanAmericanpeoplearealwaysconsideredtobemarginalizedandthereforethey
mightneedtoworktwiceashardastheotherracesforthemtogetthesameopportunitiesand
needsthattheydoget.ThisexperiencechangedmyperspectivetowardslifeandIhavealways
believedthatthemarginalizedracesdoneedourprotectionfromthesystemandtheneedto
standupfortheminensuringthattheinequalityiseradicatedissomethingthatisvery
importanttoalwaysconsideranddo.Thisexperiencehasalsotosomeextentshapedmycareer
goalsinawaythatIhavealwaysdesiredtobeanactivistinthisfieldadvocatingfortherights
of the people who are in most cases treated differently due to their racial differences.
AnotherexperiencethatIhavehadthathasshapedmylifeindifferentwaysiswhenit
comestoclass.ManyexperiencesthatIhavehadinmylifeandespeciallyinmylineofwork
andwhilelookingforajobhavebeeninfluencedbyclass.Therehasalwaysbeenaperception
thatpeoplewhohavegonetoprestigiousschoolsanduniversitiesdohaveagreaterprobability
togetbetterjobsinthemarket.Thereforepeoplewhocannotaffordtheseschoolsduetotheir
economicclassarealwaysleftouttoseeiftheycangetachanceingettingtheotherjobsthat
are considered not to be prestigious.
AgoodexampleofanexperiencethatIhadwiththiswaswhenIwaslookingforan
internship,Ifoundmyselfwithastudentfromoneofthemostexpensiveandprestigious
collegesinthecountry,inasmuchasIhadbettergradesthanhimwhilebeinginterviewedfor
theposition,itwasobviousthattheeconomicclassthathewasingavehim50%chanceofhim
beingtakenfortheinternpositionthanme.Thisspecificcompanywasoneofthebestfirmsin
thecountryandIhavealwayswishedtoworkinthesamecompany,howeverduetomy
economicsclass,Imissedthatchance.Thisthereforeaffectedmycareergoalsinavery
significantway.ThecareergoalsthatIalwayshadofworkingforthefirmandgettingagood
recommendationletterfromthesamewhichwouldhavehelpedmeinacquiringevenabetter
jobinanothercompanywasruinedbythefactthatIwasfromaloweconomicclass.This
inequalitythereforewhenitcomestoclassissomethingthathasnotonlyaffectedmebutthat
hasalsoaffectedmanyotherpeoplewhoIamaroundwithwhenitcomestotheprocessof
gettingequalopportunitieswhenitcomestojobs,schoolsandevengettingbasicrightsfrom
thegovernment.Thistoasignificantleveldoesaffectpeople’slifechancesbymakingthem
missoutonopportunitiesthattheywereclearlyqualifiedforduetothefactthattheyarenot
from a high class.
AnotherthingthatwhenIreflectbackinmylifeIconsiderittohavehadanimpact
specificallyonmyideasandlifechancesofpeopleistheinequalitythatcomeswithgender.In
thepastyears,theissueongenderhasbeenathingofthepastandmostpeoplehaveseenitto
havebeenreducedandtheissuesonequalitybasedongenderhavenotbeenreportedinthe
recentyears.However,genderinthepastyearshasaffectedmycareerchoicesandeventhe
ideasthatIhavetowardscertainjobsandpeople.AgoodexampleofanexperiencethatIwent
throughthatshapedmeintermsofideasthatIhavewaswhenItookoneofmyladyfriends
whowasaqualifiedprofessionalmechanicalengineerandshewascalledforaninterviewin
oneofthelocalautomotivecompaniesinthearea.Uponreachingthecompany’soffices,the
friendwasluckytobetheonewhohadthehighestqualificationsforthejobandshewas
confidentthatshewasgoingtogetthejobbasedonthis.However,lookingattheother
applicants,theywereallmenandlookingaroundthecompanyworkshoptherewasnolady
working or even supervising the work.
Uponaskingthemanagementaboutthis,theysaidthattheydopreferhiringmeninthe
jobthattheywereofferingduetothestateoftheactivitiesthatweretobecarriedoutbythe
applicants.Theassumptionthatwasmadebythemanagementwasthatmenweremore
masculineandwereabletodelivermorewhenitcomestoworkoutputcomparedtoladies.
Uponhearingthisitwasverysadanditautomaticallychangedmyideaofworkerstowardsthat
areaofspecialty.Iendedupbelievingthatforanyladytogetajob,theyneedtotryandfocus
moreonlearningandtakingcoursethatwerelessmasculineandinasmuchasthiswasabad
thinking,itwasavalidonesincebydecidingtodosuchcourse,onemightendupstrugglingto
getajobinthefieldnotbecausetheyarenotqualifiedbutbecauseemployersintheindustry
prefer men for their basing and unjustified assumptions.
ThesedifferentexperiencesthatIhavecomeacrossinthepastuptonowhavehada
veryhugeimpactonmylife.MostoftheexperiencesthatIhavehadthatarespecifically
negativewhenitcomestoinequalitybasedonpeople’sdiversitieshaveaffectednotonlythe
wayinwhichIviewdifferentsituationsbutalsothewayinwhichItendtohaveideason
certainsituationsandcareers.TheseexperienceshavenotonlybeentheonesthatIhave
experiencedfirsthandbutalsomanyoftheexperienceshavebeenexperiencedbythepeople
thatIamclosetoandthesehavealsoaffectedmeinasignificantway.PeoplethatIknowhave
changedtheircareergoals,theirlifechanceshavebeenruinedandeventheyhavehadideas
thatareconsiderednottobecorrectinsituationsandevenpeople(Dill&Zambrana,2020).It
isthereforeforthisreasonthattheneedtocomeupwithwaysthatwouldhelpintheprocessof
ensuringthattheseinequalitiesareaddressedandthatpeoplearetreatedthesamedespitetheir
diversitiesisneeded.Itisimportanttoalwaysknowthatallpeoplearethesameandtheneedto
ensurethatthisiscultivatedinpeople’sheartsfromaloweragewillspecificallyensurethat
thesekindsofidentitiesandbeliefsthatpeopledeveloptowardscertaincareers,peopleand
even situations are eradicated and reduced significantly.
References
Dill,B.T.,&Zambrana,R.E.(2020).Criticalthinkingaboutinequality:Anemerginglens.
In FeministTheoryReader (pp.108-116).Routledge.
https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003001201-14/critical
-thinking-inequality-bonnie-thornton-dill-ruth-enid-zambrana
1
CONTEMPORARY ASIAN AMERICANS INTERVIEW
Description
Idecidedtointerviewafriendofthefamilyforthisproject.WhenmyfamilyandI
relocatedtothenewarea,hewasoneofthefirstpeoplewemet.PaulLiWeifengisthenameof
thisman.Inthe1960s,heandhisfamilycametotheUnitedStatesfromChina.Afterspending
timewithhimandhearingaboutthelocationheusedtocallhome,hehasbecomeoneofthe
most influential persons.
Afterreturninghome,Ichosetohavethemeetinginhislivingroom,whereIhadspent
muchofmyleisuretimeasachildworkingonhisprojects.Paulisinhisseventies.Heinformed
methatafterhehitfifty,hestoppedcounting.Tohim,keepingtrackofhischronologicalagewas
pointlesssincehisbodycoulddoitforhim.Wegotcomfortable,Imadesometea,andwegotto
work.
INTERVIEW
Question:Howwasyourchildhood,andhowwasitgrowingupinChinaandcomingheretothe
United States?
Paul: ShanghaiisthecitywhereIwasborn.MyfatherwasamemberoftheChinese
government’sDemocraticPartywhileworkingfortheChinesegovernment.Asaresultofthe
ongoingcivilconflictsinChina,itwasn’teasytogotoChinaatthistime.Myfatherhadtoflee
thenationbecauseoftheoppressiveruleofthecommunistparty.AlloftheotherDemocratic
Partymemberslikewisefledfortheirlivesoutofterror.MyfatherescapedtoHongKong.
Becausemymotherwasastay-at-homemom,IgrewupinShanghaiwithherandmytwoother
2
siblings.MymothergatheredustogetherandappliedforexitpermitsfromthelocalCommunist
Party.WewereonlygrantedpermissiontogooutsideofChina’sborders.Itwasdifficultsinceno
onewouldtakeusin,sowehadtogobytraintoCanton,thenbyboattoMacao,andfinallyby
shiptoHongKong.WhilevisitingHongKongatthetime,youdidn’tneedapassporttoenterthe
country if you could speak its language.
Question: Were there challenges that you faced?
Paul:Nopassportswerenecessary,andcommunicationwasonlyrequiredinChinese,butthe
mostsignificantproblemwefacedwasthatneitherofuscouldspeakthelanguage.Formy
father,whohadobtainedajobintheregion,hehadtorecruitseveralmaidstosmuggleus
through.Ontheotherhand,mymotherwasnoticeablyabsentatthetime.Myfatherhadtopay
theship’scaptainforhertojointherestofusinHongKong.Wehadtorelyondonatedfoodto
getbyatthebeginningofourlives.WeatealotofcuisinefromtheUnitedStates.Myfather
eventuallydeterminedthatmovingtotheUnitedStateswithuswouldbethebestoptionforour
family’slong-termwell-being.MyfatherhadabuddywhoworkedforaHongKong-based
organizationthathelpedimmigrantsgettothecity.Forayoungyoungsterlikeme,thejourney
fromHongKongtotheUnitedStateswaslengthyandexhilarating.Itwasmyfirsttripona
plane,andwehadnumerouslayoversinvariousareasofAsiauntilwefinallymadeittothe
United States.
Question:wasiteasieradaptingtothecultureoftheUnitedStates,andwhatweresomeofthe
challenges you faced?
3
Paul: MyfamilyandIweretakenabackbytheAmericanwayoflife.EventhoughIwasyoung,
IrecallhowdrasticallydifferentlifewasintheUnitedStatesfromthatinmainlandChinaand
HongKong.Itwasadifferentworld,boththepeopleandthelanguage.WelearnedEnglishfrom
ourfather,buttheEnglishwelearnedintheUnitedStatesdifferedfromwhathetaughtus.
BecauseoftheAmericanaccent,Icouldn’thearorcomprehendmuchofwhatpeoplesaid.
Thingsweretoughformyfatherforthefirstfewyears,butheeventuallyfoundworkwithatiny
companystart-up,andthingsbegantoimprove.LivingintheUnitedStateswasn’tfun.Irecall
beingteasedforbeingdifferentbecauseofhowIlookedandspoke.Atonepoint,wewereso
harassedbythepeopleinourneighborhoodthatsomeeventhreateneduswithphysicalassault.
Because of the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975, I later learned.
Question: How did you manage the kind of racism youfaced here?
Paul:MyfamilywasforcedtorelocatetoQueens’Chinatown,wherewecouldbeamongst
otherswholookedandassociatedwithus.AsIgrewolderandhadafamilyofmyown,Isaw
howdifficultitwastodealwiththeprejudiceandbigotrythatAsianAmericansoften
encountered.Whentherewasalotofcompetitionfromwhitepeople,Icouldn’tacquireorkeepa
job.Nobodycaredwhethertheywerequalifiedsinceitdidn’tmakeadifference.Mychoices
have shaped me into the guy I am today, and I don’t look back on any of them.
Question: What do you know about the history of theUnited States?
Paul: Racismandotherformsofdiscriminationagainstmembersofminoritygroupshavealong
andtroubledhistoryintheUnitedStates.SincethefirstChineseimmigrantscametotheUnited
4
States,therehavebeenanti-Chineseattitudesinthecountry.Inthemid-19thcentury,thefirst
ChineseimmigrantsarrivedintheUnitedStates.Itbecameapparentinthe1860swhenthe
ChinesewereemployedtoconstructtheFirstTranscontinentalRailroad,whichledtothe
formationofthefederalChineseExclusionActin1882enactedbythefederalgovernment.
China’sfurtherimmigrationandcitizenshiptotheUnitedStateswereeffectivelyprohibitedby
thisstatute.AsaconsequenceofmissionariesandexplorerswhohadvisitedChinaandreturned
home with critical accounts, the United States developed anti-Chinese sentiments.
Question:WhatweretheprimaryreasonsforthebadbloodbetweentheChineseandthe
Americans?
Paul:TheVietnamWarbrokeoutin1955whentheUnitedStatesenteredtheconflict.In
additiontocontributingarmaments,theChinesegovernmentassistedVietnaminotherways.The
ChineseengagementinthebattleagainsttheUnitedStatesimpactedhowtheUnitedStatessaw
theChinese.RacismanddiscriminationagainstpeopleofChineseheritageintheUnitedStates
sparkedanti-ChinesesentimentintheUnitedStatesonceagain.DiscriminationagainstAsian
Americanswasrampant,particularlyinthe1990s.Discrimination,bigotry,andhurdlestoequal
opportunityweresomeofthedifficultiestheyencountered.Discriminationandmistreatment
basedonracearesignificantcontributorstothementalhealthproblemsfacedbyAsian
Americans.
INTERVIEW TAKEAWAYS
5
IlearnedalotfrommyinterviewwithPaul.Itgavemeabetterunderstandingofthe
difficultiesfacedbymembersoftheAsianAmericancommunitywhentheyarrivedintheUnited
States. Unfortunately, some of these concerns are still relevant today.
Asaresult,AsianAmericansfaceracialprejudicebecauseofthebeliefsandattitudesof
individualswholackcriticalthinkingskillsandrelyontheirfearstoguidetheiractions
(Rodriguez,&Kim,2018.).PeopleintheUnitedStates’perceptionsofAsiansand
Asian-AmericanswerefueledbytheAsiannationsthatparticipatedintheVietnamWarsince
they are comparable in certain aspects.
Ialsolearnedthatnoteverythingisasitseemsfromtheinterview.Growingup,Ihadno
ideawhatPaulandhisfamilywentthroughtocometotheUnitedStatesandstartanewlife.
You’dthinkhehaditall,withhishappyfamily,well-keptyard,andwhitepicketfenceinview.
Everyonehashadtoworkhardtogettowheretheyare.Formostpeople,achievingequalityand
fair treatment will require them to persevere in the face of hardship.
Lastbutnotleast,Idiscoveredthattheonlywaytohearsomeone’sstoryistostopand
listentothemtellit.Aswegothroughlife,wehaveavarietyofexperiences.Theyrefusetobe
boundbythemistakesofthepast.Becauseoftheirethnicity,membersoftheAsianAmerican
communityaresubjectedtoracialprejudiceandviolence,yettheystillstandupfortheirbeliefs
(Cheref, Talavera, & Walker, 2019).
6
References
Cheref,S.,Talavera,D.,&Walker,R.L.(2019).Perceiveddiscriminationandsuicideideation:
ModeratingrolesofanxietysymptomsandethnicidentityamongAsianAmerican,
AfricanAmerican,andHispanicemergingadults. SuicideandLife‐Threatening
Behavior, 49(3), 665-677.
Rodriguez,N.N.,&Kim,E.J.(2018).Insearchofmirrors:AnAsiancriticalracetheory
contentanalysisofAsianAmericanpicturebooksfrom2007to2017. Journalof
Children’s Literature, 44(2), 17-30.
Asian American Studies
211-02
Agenda
! Announcements/reminders
! Last project due May 2
! Will explain more about that project today
! I am slowly catching up on giving comments to your oral
histories, autoethnographies, and ethnographies
! Break out rooms
! Check in
! If you could choose a superpower (like flying, being super
strong, run fast, become invisible, read minds, etc.), what would
it be? How would you use that superpower?
! Explain project – give examples
! Present what you learned from either your oral history project or
your ethnography (or autoethnography) in one of the following
formats:
! Standard paper: Write a 4- to 5-page paper with Introduction
[including research question and thesis statement], body,
conclusion, citations, and bibliography that addresses one
particular issue, concept, event, etc. that was covered in class.
! Creative piece: If you choose to do a creative piece, please write
a 2-page write up that identifies a particular issue, concept, event,
etc. that was covered in class and shows the connections that it
has to your creative piece. You will turn in a representation of the
creative piece as a file to iLearn (such as PDF, JPEG, mp3, mp4,
Word doc, PPT, screen shot, etc.) Examples of creative pieces:
! Video project(up to 3 minutes)
! Photo essaywith captions
! A social media campaignthat addresses a particular issue or
problem that is relevant to yourself, family, and/or community
! Spoken word piece or song
! Dance piece
! A script of a sceneof play or movie
! A recipe collection
Mauna Kea song
For both the standard paper and the
creative piece…
! You will need to have thesis statement or argument
What is a thesis statement?
! A sentence that sums up the central point or main idea of what
you are writing and/or presenting.
! Usually comes in the first part of what you are writing and/or
presenting.
! Tells the reader or audience what you will be writing or presenting
about – like a map of where you are going
Your “quiz” today
!Go over at least one of the following references on thesis statements:
! https://wordcounter.io/blog/top-6-most-common-thesis-statement-
mistakes/
! https://www.english.upenn.edu/graduate/resources/teachweb/
scthesis.html#:~:text=A%20thesis%20must%20be%20arguable,need%20to
%20prove%20the%20point
!Write a thesis statement on any topic of your choosing and send it in
by chat to me (You can send it directly to me or send it to the whole
class.)
!I just want to see if you all have a general understanding of a “thesis
statement”
For example:
! The stereotype of Asian Americans as being smart overachievers has had a
profound impact on my self image and relations with my peers.
! Realizing that the stereotype of Asian Americans as being smart
overachievers has adversely affected my self image has led me to recreate
a different kind of identity that is based on self-determination and self care
! My grandmother is no “simple and backward” immigrant because
undergoing the dangerous trek to the US and overcoming the many
challenges after coming required much planning and skill.
! Boxers are better than briefs because they allow more freedom of
movement due to their being looser fitting.
! In the Bay Area, online classes are better than in-person classes because of
the high cost of living here.
! My neighborhood has rapidly changed its racial composition in the last few
years due to gentrification.

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