And four, marry a nice Taiwanese girl.” Thirty years later, and I’m two for four.
According to Times reporter Rachel Swarns, the reason why younger Asians are choosing to marry other Asians is that they’re experiencing a “resurgence of interest in language and ancestral traditions,” and selecting partners that will help them preserve that precious heritage — particularly spouses who are first-generation immigrants, and thus closer to the original old-world source.
By contrast, my older son Hudson, who’s actually in third grade for real, can speak Mandarin at the fifth grade level.My mom subscribes to Cultural Bucket Brigade Theory, which is to say, every generation hands a pail of culture to the one that follows, and winces as the latter clumsily lets half of it spill out.So to her, the Times article was nothing less than a vindication.And in talking to friends who dated mostly non-Asian people before settling down with an Asian, none of them cited a desire to “preserve culture” as a particularly important motivation either.“This may sound weird, but when I was in my 20s, I really thought I should marry a -Asian because I wanted to have mixed race children,” says Mina Lim, an editor and writer who lives in Baltimore.“And then, of course, there’s the golf,” she laughs.“We both love golf.” It’s not that a sense of easy common ground can’t be found with non-Asian partners — it certainly can.(Note: They’ve now been married over a decade, and my parents think he’s awesome.) This, of course, brings up something that represents a real emerging trend among Asian Americans, almost entirely glossed over by the Times: Like Lim, my sister and a significant percentage of our social circles, more Asian Americans seem to be marrying Asian Americans that aren’t their particular flavor of Asian American. Le, a professor of sociology at University of Massachusetts–Amherst, has done a remarkably in-depth analysis of Asian American intermarriage and outmarriage statistics and made it available on his public blog, And yes, the statistics back up that anecdotal evidence. His research has found that since 2006, the frequency of inter-Asian marriage has risen by more than 8% among all Asian Americans, and over 15% among Asians raised in the U. This trend actually points to a much better explanation for declining interracial marriage rates among Asian Americans than the Times’s “back to our roots” rationale: More Asians are marrying Asians because there are more of them around.These are pretty basic values that aren’t, for that matter, strictly limited to Asian Americans.And they’re hardly what my mom means when she thinks of “culture”; just ask my sister, who had several uncomfortable conversations with my parents about the cultural differences between various East Asian ethnicities prior to her marriage to my Korean American brother-in-law.