"AzNpRyDE": Pan-Asianism and Youth Culture in an Age of Cyberspace

Throughout the ‘90s, the early days of Internet served as an alternative space in
which the first “digitized generation” of Asian Pacific American youths,
predominantly pre-teen and teenagers, created, disseminated, and consumed a youth
subculture popularly known as AzN PryDe (read: Asian Pride). Pan-Asianism and
pride in one’s respective ethnic identity were underlining themes in the
aesthetics of this virtual renaissance of visual and music production. For those
who took part or were aware of this “prolonged download of megabytes,” a
home-recorded, widely-shared hip hop mp3 called Got Rice?—its verses rhymed over
the instrumental of the late 2Pac’s Changes (1998)— well characterizes the
transnational and diasporic nature of Asian Pride. This subculture, filled with
numerous contradictions, promoted a reconnection to one’s roots while
simultaneously offering an avenue toward assimilation. On and off school
campuses, Asian Pride also contributed to compounding racial tensions and gang
violence in America’s rapidly ever-changing racial landscape. In an era
popularized by Black cultural politics and other identity politics enmeshed in hip
hop like gangsta rap, Asian Pride precisely mirrors the ways in which Asian
Pacific Americans sought a distinct identity between black and white, the virtual
world and the real world. As young people are at the forefront of the information
revolution, questions such as race, representation, nation, authenticity, and home
are validly addressed in a technologically-mediated subculture like Asian Pride.