On Asian Stereotypes
Someone once told me, “You’re lucky, you’re Asian. Your stereotypes are all positive, like all Asians are smart, or all Asians are good at math.”
Do you know the problem with Asian stereotypes?
The problem is that when I get an A on a test, people say, “Oh, she’s Asian, of course she got an A”.
The problem is that when our badminton team won state, people said, “Oh, they’re Asian, of course they’re good at badminton”.
The problem is that when my sister got into MIT, I heard people saying, “Well, she’s Asian, so of course she got into MIT”.
When my friend wins a piano competition, people said he won because “all Asians are good at piano.”
But that’s not right.
I got an A on that test because I did my homework every day and studied for hours.
Our badminton team won state because we train 9 hours a week, all year round.
My sister got into MIT because she spent hours agonizing over her essays, because she stayed up ridiculously late doing homework and studying for tests.
Yes, I agree, a lot of the Asians I know are very smart, and many Asians excel in music and extracurriculars. Do you know why? It’s because of their parents, who yell at them when their grades drop, when they don’t practice enough. It’s the hours spent crying, the times you consider cheating because you don’t have time to study. It’s your bleeding fingers and aching shoulders, but you haven’t practiced enough.
Because when we don’t succeed, all we hear is countless people telling us, “You’re Asian, aren’t Asians supposed to be smart?” “Aren’t Asians supposed to be good at piano?” “Aren’t Asians supposed to succeed at everything without trying?”
Do not invalidate our hard work by saying our achievements are a result of our ethnicity.