National Asian American Heritage Month Celebration
Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
May 23, 2001
Professor of Physics
Society of Korean-American Scholars
New New World I: Demographics
In the Census 2000, some 20 million Americans
checked off a new ethnicity category called 'multiracial.' It is
certainly fitting. Since the last census in 1900, we have witnessed a mushrooming population of multiracial
Americans who cannot be classified into the traditional categories of (Non-Hispanic) white, black, Hispanic
and Asians. Take Tiger Woods as an example, part black and part Thai.
The introduction of the new category, multiracial,
signals the beginning of a new phase in the evolution of
America. At first it was the 'new world' into which migrated Europeans. Two separate groups defined this
new world - white and black - which remained largely so until the late 1900s.
With the inflow of Hispanics and Asians, America
entered a new phase in its demographic evolution. Now we
have the emergence of a truly multiracial population - part white, part black, part Hispanic and part Asian.
As the African-Americans have evolved into a new
'race' that is clearly distinct from the Africans, the new
multiracial Americans will evolve into a brand new 'race' of its own, unlike any other group of people anywhere
in the world, not only ethnically but also culturally and anthropologically.
This is the beginning of what I call the New New
World. It is not the 'old new world' of part Italian, part Irish
and part Russian. It is the new new world of part Asian, part black, part Hispanic and part white. It is a
synthesis of a new ethnic group that is so uniquely American in this land of the new new world.
In this new new world, therefore, no one is an
insider and no one is an outsider. We are all insiders. As we
march into this new new world in the 21st century, we should be keenly aware of this new development that is
taking place right under our nose. We are all Americans, period. Soon even the distinction between white,
black, Hispanic and Asians will begin to fade away as we, as insiders, all strive toward building up this
all-inclusive new new world.
New New World II: Networking
Another fundamental change that is taking place
in the contemporary America, and in the world, is the profound
cultural and social changes brought on by the age of the global Internet. No longer limited by geography or
time zones, anyone in the world can instantly communicate with anyone else in any parts of the world, all across
the 24 time zones.
This enables people to form networks likes of
which were never possible before the global internet. Like-minded
individuals can form networks, across regional and national; boundaries, with other individuals and together they
become a formidable social force that can literally change the world.
This new phase of human evolution I would like
to refer to as "the archipelago of networked individuals,
informed, enlightened and empowered." Among others, this networking forces us to rethink how groups of
individuals are to be formed.
The conventional structure in which one forms
an association, society, or corporation is still very much valid,
with its bylaws, slate of officers, and so on. But the art and science of networking by the Net goes far beyond
this. It connects people thousands of miles apart for common interests and purposes.
One such example is the organization that I helped
to found, the Society of Korean-American Scholars, SKAS.
Among many of its activities that include seminars and regional get-togethers are two online weekly newsletters.
One is called the Korean-American Science and Technology News, KASTN, and the other the Information
Exchange for Korean-American Scholars, IEKAS. They are published weekly, every Wednesday and Friday
respectively, and are distributed, free of charge, to some 17,000 individuals across six continents and seven
seas, including to many non-Koreans.
We have recently extended this activity to form
the Overseas Korean Senior Professionals Network, OKSPN,
comprised of senior (age 55 and up) professionals, both pre- and post-retirement. Many of the OKSPN activities
are for members only and its membership, as the name suggests, is open to all overseas Koreans, not just in
America. We have members in Canada as well as in China.