August 26: She is a cute little Korean-American girl with pigtails, and her name is Kim. Like so many others, her parents, too, went to the United States of America as immigrants and settled there. Kim, who was born in the US, is American. And anyone who gives her the feeling that she is not a true American, or makes fun of her ‘Asian’ origin, gets the sharp end of her tongue. No wonder she is called the Angry Little Asian Girl.
Kim is an animated cartoon character on the Web! She is the creation of 26-year-old Korean-American screen and television actress, LelaLee. She lives in a cartoon strip called Angry Little Girls, in a web site called angrylittleasiangirl.com. One of her recent adventures happens in school. The teacher asks how she speaks such good English, and Kim says haughtily, “I was born here. Don’t you know anything about immigration?”
So, the cartoon strip is about angry little girls from the Asian and Latin American community, among others, who begin life as the “underdog”, says its creator, and have to fight the prejudices against them in people’s minds.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people from all continents try to enter the US legally or illegally: some to be united with family, some fleeing their country, and others to study or to work. All of them dream the American dream of a comfortable life and the Green Card that allows them to stay there. But each aspirant has to satisfy the strict yardsticks of US immigration policy.
America’s face is changing. Although the largest number of immigrants living in the U.S. are still of European/Canadian origin, that number is declining – in sharp contrast to Mexicans, other Latin Americans, and Asians (Filipinos, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Indians), whose numbers have all virtually doubled in the last 10 years.
There are some who accept the changing racial and ethnic composition of the US more readily. They see the US as a land made by immigrants. Others have apprehensions about Asians and Latin Americans being able to fit into the American culture symbolised by the population of white, European descent. Children, like Kim, who feel American, but are looked upon as Asian, have the toughest time wondering who they really are.
No wonder policies of immigration and, further, policies to integrate immigrants into American society, are being fiercely debated in the US today. Borders are important, it seems, even in a globalised world, be it US, UK or even India…