What does Anthony Ocampo suggest about Filipino American high school and college student ‘s identity?
Please read abstract conclusion to answer the question.
Despite their official classification as Asian, Filipino Americans expressed ambivalence about their panethnic identity. While previous studies have focused on how historical colonialism or neighborhood experiences relate to this identity dissonance, this article has specifically addressed the role of educational contexts. Respondents in this study negotiated individual and collective Filipino Americans experiences with the model minority narrative—despite the problematic nature of this stereotype—to assess their panethnic membership. Respondents generally did not strongly adopt Asian American identity but conceded that they were “the Asian ones” dur-ing high school, a context in which there were few other Asian Americans with whom they could compare themselves. This characterization was reinforced by two trends: their overrepresentation within honors courses relative to other minorities and the preferential treatment they received from school officials. Even respondents who maintained mediocre grades viewed themselves as Asian, given that Filipino Americans were collectively designated as model minorities. This challenges previous studies that have shown that Asians distance themselves from Asian American identity when they individually perform poorly in school. This link between collective academic experiences and panethnic identity also sheds light on why Asian American identification did not differ significantly by gender. However, upon entering college, many respondents also entered a new racial context where East Asian Americans not only outnumbered Filipino Americans, but also redefined the boundaries of pan-Asian identity.
While respondents had once viewed themselves as model minorities in high school, this shifted in college, where they felt that their East Asian counterparts outperformed them academically, particularly in challenging fields, such as science and engineering. At campuses like UC Berkeley and UCLA especially, respondents’ sense of Asian American identity became disrupted by Filipino Americans’ designation as “underrepresented minorities,” a category reserved for minority groups with unusually high attrition from the college. The increased day-to-day interactions with other Asian Americans also prompted them to discover differences in their academic experiences. Many were surprised to find out how involved East Asian parents were in their children’s academic lives—enrolling them in language schools and SAT preparation courses and pushing them to attend prestigious colleges. These were framed as “typical Asian experiences” to which Filipino Americans did not necessarily relate, thus further dampen-ing the possibilities of pan-Asian identification. Ultimately, racial identity dilemmas were experienced only by Filipino Americans who attended UC and private institutions, as respondents who attended CSUs and community colleges remained socially embedded in their neighborhood context, where they were still the primary Asian group. Respondents’ sense of marginality as Asian Americans prompted many to develop a panminority identity. Filipino Americans’ individual and collective underperformance became a basis of identification with Latinos and African Americans. For respondents like Joey, academic under representation provided a rationale for identifying as Pacific Islander, mainly as a means of signaling how incongruent his experiences were from those of other Asian Americans. This shared status as underrepresented minorities also created opportunities for Filipino Americans to work closely with Latinos and African Americans on educational outreach and political activism, which further enhanced a panminority consciousness that was not necessarily salient during high school. While previous research has suggested that children of immigrants generally opt for socially advantageous identities, my findings have shown that this is not the case when there is a perceived mismatch between personal experiences and stereotyped cultural connotations of the racial label. As demonstrated by the educational narratives of Filipino Americans, children of immigrants may feel more comfortable adopting identities that fit their experiences, even when those labels are popularly associated with social disadvantages (as is the case with Latinos and African Americans in higher education). Lastly, my findings highlight the utility of centering disidentification as an outcome of interest, as it reveals how individuals understand their racial position vis-à-vis other ethnic groups within the larger U.S. context.