By Mekenzie K.
I’m 21 years old and still find myself asking “Am I an Asian-American?” in certain situations.
At 21 years old that probably sounds like a ridiculous thing to question, but part of the reason I’m never quite sure is because I’m also an adoptee. I am a Korean American whose parents are Caucasian (because I’m adopted) – and on occasion, while reading statistics that describe “Asian Americans” — I get a little flustered as to where I fit in that.
Many racial health differences occur because of traditions and cultural practices, while others lie in genetics. But how do I fit into any of that? Am I Asian (because my lifestyle doesn’t contain any dietary or lifestyle significance that parallel with Asian culture)? Do I fall into the Caucasian category (because my upbringing was in a Caucasian family)? Am I an Asian-American (whose statistics can potentially incorporate immigrants or children who grew up in an immigrant family)? Nature versus nurture (how much does that play into healthcare outcomes)?
My identity, ethnic roots and heritage may be a bit dichotomous at first glance when trying to dissect and understand the pieces. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen how lucky I am to have a dual background of my Korean ethnicity and Caucasian roots. My absolute favorite part about being Korean is the exploration into pop culture, foods, traditions, etc. that allow me to link back to my roots.
Even in a state that’s lacking Asian diversity, I’ve managed to dig around and find some deelish restaurants, cool stores and a network of Korean-Americans to get plugged in with.
I’m talking kimchi, Rilakkuma and bibimbap — the best parts of being Korean, of course.
Another side of adoption and having a dual-heritage is also not knowing what my family history is and certain illnesses, physical or mental, I may be predisposed too. I find it interesting to reference to statistics and factbooks regarding Asian health – specifically in Nebraska.
Shout out to DHHS for making one specifically about Asian Americans in the state! Even though it’s mostly statistics and seemingly unexciting health disparity and fact banter, it’s still intrinsically interesting in a factual and personal nature. Especially intriguing to me are the comparative facts on healthcare of Asian with Caucasians, many times there aren’t astronomical differences between the two.
So here’s a few “did you knows?” from the fact book, maybe some health facts you can spew off at a cocktail party or something to impress all your friends…or just to keep tucked away.
Photo courtesy of: EDUCATION.NE.GOV
- There are slightly more whites (non-Hispanic) that don’t have healthcare coverage compared to Asian Nebraskans (we’re talking a 0.5% difference, but still a difference). (p. 26)
- Overall, whites and Asians did a “bang-up” job of going in to get a regular check-up. (p. 26)
- Let’s talk about death! The death rate “due to all causes” is 1.74% higher for White Nebraskans than Asian Americans (and was more of a direct reflection of the state as a whole…not surprisingly the state doesn’t have a whole lot of Asians, so that makes sense). (p. 29)
- Alright, once more with mortality…accidental death rates (anything considered preventable including homicide and suicide) are a whopping 6.5% higher for White Nebraskans than Asians. (p. 30)
- Proportionally speaking, Asians have less condition diagnoses than White Nebraskans (things like asthma, cancer, etc.) (p. 35- 43)