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Eric Liu: Asians Could Be Template For Seeing Nuances Of Race, Citizenship (VIDEO)

Jul 04, 2013 | Updated Jul 04, 2013

Eric Liu, Bill Clinton's former speechwriter and policy advisor, said Asians might be a model minority -- but not just in the paradigmatic child-of-a-Tiger-Mom type of way.

The Asian American community is arguably a prism through which we can easily view nuances of race and class in the US, Liu told HuffPost at the Aspen Ideas Festival last week. He pointed out the complexities and clusters of nationalities, religions and socioeconomic levels of Asians and Asian Americans, and called for a renewed definition of citizenship, echoing some of his past sentiments.

“While selective colleges are filled with, quote, overachieving Asian students, the bottom quintile of American life -- people who are being left behind in this time who are not able to close an opportunity -- there are tons of Asian Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders who are stuck there as well. And they are not part of this larger narrative”

Liu, author of books such as "The Gardens of Democracy," "The True Patriot," and "The Accidental Asian, urges Americans to not see citizenship as defined by achievements or socioeconomic level, but by how people work toward a common goal together.

Liu, whose parents were immigrants from China via Taiwan, said he's always felt a pull between feeling deeply connected to his heritage and also the need to "claim this country."

"I reject the idea that to become American is to quote become white," he said. "There's got to be a way to be American's that's just about being yourself, claiming this country but not trying to whitewash yourself."

He started a movement three years ago (partially in jest) to give everyone a naturalization ceremony -- immigrant or native-born -- during which people would take a citizenship test, swear an oath and "renew their vows." He described the idea in more detail in a past HuffPost blog.

"After all, when I look at some of the selfish, fear-mongering, divisive anti-immigrant activists seeking to end birthright citizenship, I see living proof that being born here doesn't necessarily make you a good citizen. And I know many non-citizens in America who, in the way they live and work and serve community and country, are many times better Americans than some of the entitled non-contributors who scream about "anchor babies" subverting our way of life."

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