Having grown up in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles, I now ask myself: which monuments and cultural landmarks represent the Asian American community, here?
Dubbed “the first suburban Chinatown,” the San Gabriel Valley today is home to the largest concentration of Asian Americans in the country.
Before delving into the cultural landmarks specific to the Asian American community, it is important to acknowledge that the term “Asian American” is a problematic category to begin with, flattening North, South, Southeast, East, West, Central, and Indigenous Asian communities under one umbrella term.
These cultural landmarks not only reveal the history of how Asian Americans have had to negotiate their cultural representation, but also tell a larger story of the formation of a collective cultural identity.
This is the paradox in grappling with Asian American identity — although the Asian American community encompasses many people who do not share the same history, identity, nor culture, they are nevertheless treated as one upon arrival in the United States and, slowly, become “Asian American.”