(Imported from: [link])
I listen to a lot of music, and while I don’t really pay much attention to pop, I do notice a lot of things. For instance, the other day I was trying to count how many Asian American women I could think of that were in the music business, whether it be mainstream, independent, or on YouTube, and I noticed something: a lot of them are half-Asian. So of course I had to ask myself, why is that?
For reference, let’s make that list, shall we?
Priscilla Ahn (half-Korean)
Meg and Dia Frampton (half-Korean)
Kina Grannis (half-Japanese)
Norah Jones (half-Indian)
Cathy Nguyen ([half?]-Vietnamese)*
Thao Nguyen (Vietnamese)
Karen O (half-Korean)
Utada Hikaru (Japanese)
*I always thought Cathy Nguyen was half-white, but I couldn’t find anything anywhere to make sure either way.
I went on Wikipedia (I know, such a reliable scholarly source!) for their ethnicities. Six out of eight of the people on that list are half-Asian (two are sisters, but still). As with any phenomenon, there might be several factors playing into this at the same time. Maybe it has something to do with…
…the growing rate at which Asian American women have been marrying men outside their race. It’s no secret that Asian women have become decreasingly attracted to Asian men, because of their emasculation in mainstream media or whatnot. Maybe the presence of half-Asians in the music business is the result of this.
…the increasingly liberal outlook half-Asian couples have on occupations. Okay, maybe I’m just making this up. Or maybe I’m onto something. If an Asian marries an Asian, maybe their kids will end up being super-Asian. That’s where you get the doctors, lawyers, and businessmen. But if an Asian marries a white dude, maybe that’s where you get the artists, writers, and of course, the musicians. (Yeah, I’m full-Viet, and yeah, I’m majoring in English, but hey, maybe I’m one of the lucky ones whose parents just wanted me to go into something I’d be happy doing.)
…their visibility from my side of town. I don’t live under a rock, but I don’t really actively look for Asian/Asian American music to listen to, either. And you might’ve noticed that none of the women I listed are involved in hip-hop/rap. Maybe there are a bunch of Asian female rappers I don’t know about.
…their popularity, which has less to do with me and more to do with what the general public is interested in. Why does it seem like Thao Nguyen, who as far as I can tell is fully Asian, isn’t as popular as Kina Grannis, who’s huge on YouTube, and Meg and Dia, who’ve gained some popularity after Dia’s run on The Voice? Of course, Thao is an indie musician, with very indie-styled music, so maybe that has to do with it. Or maybe the general public only starts to care when the person is half-white.
But at the end of the day, does any of this matter, this categorization of whether someone is fully Asian or half-Asian? Will it change the way the world spins? Probably not. So why did I just spend all this time writing this post in the first place? Because it’s something I noticed, and it’s something I find interesting, and it’s something some other people might find interesting as well. Some people will make music and some people will make cures to diseases. It doesn’t matter if they’re fully Asian, half-Asian, or not Asian. At the same time, it’s pretty cool that we have Asian Americans in the music business to begin with, even if they are half-Asian. It shows that we’re not just about math, science, and engineering, that we’re capable of doing all these other different things as well.