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Culture Exchange: Easing tension between Blacks, Koreans

Exchange of culture between Blacks, Koreans in urban settings has worked wonders to ease longstanding tension Acceptance of varying culture outside a particular ethnic group begins with eradicating stereotypes often learned as a child passed down

Exchange of culture between Blacks, Koreans in urban settings has worked wonders to ease longstanding tension

Acceptance of varying culture outside a particular ethnic group begins with eradicating stereotypes often learned as a child passed down from parents, school, community, and the media.

Many are familiar with the extreme conflict that transpired in the urban core throughout the US between African Americans and Korean merchants from the Republic of Korea for three decades from roughly the 1970s-2000. It was rough-going during the period with many conflicts ending in violent death on both stratas.

Black and Korean churches, civil rights groups and social agencies converged to find solutions to the problems ultimately learning that much of the dissension was due to a language barrier and cultural misunderstanding. Since the height of the tension, cultural exchange programs have served to ameliorate much of the trouble.

Korean culture is different in many ways from the West; from food and dress to worship and matrimony. Though assimilation for all immigrants to America means abandoning some cultural traits from the old country, some customs are easier to shed like traditional attire and even worship, others remain difficult to improbable like food food and matrimony.

Writer Eun-Young Kim, in a 1987 scholarly thesis paper on Korean assimilation in the United States, titled, “Assimilation Patterns of Koreans in the United States, writes:

“In the course of exploring Korean immigrants’ view of intermarriage, I found that most [interviewees] felt ambivalent about the relative superiority/inferiority of Koreans and Americans. The majority had a negative view of intermarriage. They tended to view their intermarried relatives as having sacrificed so that they could come to America and provide the means by which their kin could then immigrate.

Younger generations of Korean and African Americans are ignoring traditional norms and infusing cultures obliterating old stereotypes.

“Those who mamed Americans, mostly women, lost status and were stigmatized. The stigma is in part due to the fact that many Korean prostitutes married American soldiers during the Korean War. It is also partly because Koreans think, in general, that Koreans and Korean culture are superior to Americans and American culture. The Koreans presented the view that differences in backgrounds would cause trouble for intermarried couples, but they also revealed a more general feeling of inferiority in relation to the host society.

“[One interviewee] said that if a Korean marries [an American], their children will look [American], and therefore feel strange with the Korean parent, who will be seen as inferior. This will lead to isolation of the Korean parent from the rest of the family. Another informant agreed completely with this statement. They maintained this attitude even though most children of such marriages resemble both parents. They also pointed to the different Korean and American definitions of male and female roles and said this would cause trouble. Korean women are brought up to obey men, and therefore will not bring trouble to an American husband, while American women who are brought up to assert themselves will bring trouble to Korean husbands.

“In Korea, they said, there are many cases of children giving up marriages opposed by their parents, but here in America, children can more easily sever relations with their parents if they strongly wish to marry against parental wishes. Parents seem to choose to accept intermarriage rather than be cut off from their children. They are least hostile to marriage with Caucasians, but are most hostile to marriage with Blacks or Puerto Ricans.”

Younger generation breaking with tradition

While many older Koreans of the Baby Boomer generation may old to the notion concerning Blacks, millennials differ as attested by the three young women in the accompanying video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoTNDgAoV8s

 

 

 

 

 

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

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