Students define Asians in different ways

By Josie Stewart, ’21

The common question of identifying one’s race on a survey or test should be a simple one, but to some it can be a serious consideration. According to a study by the Nation Asian
American Survey in 2016, many people are divided about which ethnic groups fall under the category of “Asian.” People from the Philippines and India are the majority of people
in question.

“I identify as biracial, half-Indian and half-white. I also identify as Asian,” said sophomore Elizabeth Lembach. “Growing up, my mom always told me I was Asian and that I should be proud of that. I am. I love being a part of such a beautiful culture and getting to partake in traditions from both sides of my ethnicity. However, I’m often told that being Indian doesn’t make you Asian because India is its own sub-continent.”

Though Lembach identifies as Asian, she said many other Asian-Americans disagree.

“A biracial friend of mine who is half-Chinese will often tell me I can’t tell people I’m

Asian or identify as that because I’m Indian,” Lembach said. “I thought India was a part of Asia, but I guess definitions and labels are relative, which is part of what makes them so controversial and detrimental at times.”

Sophomore Anoushka Herrala, who also identifies as biracial, said she hears similar

“I am half-white and half-Indian. It’s a bit hard to identify as Indian because most people think I’m just white due to how fair my skin is,” Herrala said. “Although I identify as biracial and [consider myself] a part of Asian culture, it’s hard when people are telling me that being Indian isn’t the same as being Asian.”

Although UAHS students have their own labels, the U.S. Census Bureau, along with federal government data collection agencies, include the entire Indian subcontinent in the Asian racial category.

“I just hope in the next years to overcome the stereotype of Asian being [only] Chinese, Korean or Japanese is broken,” Herrala said. “I’m not trying to discredit their ‘Asian-ness,’ I
just hope the term Asian will mean more than what it does now.”