About 20% of Asian American adults have concealed aspects of their heritage, such as cultural customs, food, clothing, or religious practices, from non-Asians at some point in their lives, according to Pew Research Center survey of Asian adults in the United States. Common reasons for this include fear of ridicule and a desire to fit in.
Birthplace and immigrant roots play a significant role in who is most likely to hide their heritage. Notably, 32% of U.S.-born Asian adults have hidden their heritage, compared to 15% of immigrants. Second-generation Asian adults, with at least one immigrant parent, are more likely to do so (38%) compared to third- or higher-generation Asian Americans (11%).
DEMOGRAPHICS AND TRENDS
Second-generation Asian Americans represent 34% of the U.S. Asian population, with the majority being under the age of 30 and primarily English speakers. Korean Americans are more likely to hide their heritage (25%) compared to other Asian origin groups.
Younger Asian Americans (18 to 29) are twice as likely as older adults to have hidden their culture, with 39% of the former group having done so. Democrats or those leaning Democratic are more likely to hide their identity (29%) compared to Republicans (9%).
Additionally, Asian Americans who primarily speak English are more likely to hide their heritage (29%) than those who are bilingual (14%) or primarily speak their Asian origin language (9%).
REASONS FOR HIDING HERITAGE
Common reasons included feeling embarrassed or fearing a lack of understanding from others. Recent Asian immigrants often cited a desire to fit into American society and avoid negative judgments. U.S.-born Asian Americans with immigrant parents hid their heritage to fit into a predominantly White society and avoid reinforcing stereotypes about Asians. Some multiracial Asian Americans and those with more distant immigrant roots hid their heritage at times to pass as White.