The Asian Cliché
Compared to other racial minorities, Asian Americans appear to face less discrimination when it comes to employment, housing, and other living conditions that other minorities have deeply struggled with. However, much of this sprouts from a very popular stereotype that all Asian Americans are smart and successful. This has made some parts of a society blind to the fact that we do indeed face prejudice and racism. It is constantly being downplayed, and we have become a ‘model minority,’ disregarding the hard work and struggles Asian Americans have had to overcome in order to become successful in a new nation.
High ranking schools, such as Harvard, have been accused of being harsher and giving lower personality ratings to Asian American applicants, claiming that even though they’re industrious and intelligent, they have no character to them. This has made it extremely difficult for Asian Americans to get into top colleges, despite the fact that they aren’t supposed to take race and ethnicity into consideration when admitting students. Harvard currently comprises around 21% Asian Americans, and they use that as an argument that they aren’t being discriminatory since Asian Americans represent about 6% of the US population. However, there is a flaw with this argument: the Asian American population is continuing to grow and more are applying to these schools, yet the percentage of accepted applicants remains about the same.
It is a common stereotype to assume that Asians always get the highest test scores, or have the best GPAs, putting them in a competitive position against each other, despite what schools try to say. A federal judge has ruled that Harvard does not discriminate against Asian Americans, and this has caused some high school seniors to reconsider how they present themselves to stick out. They began to wonder if they’re the ones who are placing themselves into this stereotype, believing that these schools expect them to be academically brilliant. Now, they’re focusing more on their personal statements, to add character and uniqueness to their application. This has been an ongoing issue over the past couple of years, and it’s a question of whether the school is using affirmative action to discriminate against the ‘successful’ minority, or if it’s the students that are creating such a profile for themselves.
Personally, being a part of a school that is made up of about 40% Asians, it is extremely competitive and it can be a very stressful environment. Our school is known for being academically rigorous, and sometimes, we are even labeled as “Centennial,” instead of Centennial, Chen being a common East Asian surname. It’s as if we are all against one another- who is the smartest, who can be involved with the most things? This is an odd stereotype because it seems as if we want to uphold it and prove that we are super successful and intellectual. We keep feeding into this assumption, and we are straying away from our own personality and character. Stereotypes are difficult to change since so many people have such a similar image and portrayal of Asian-Americans and any minority in general.
We shouldn’t let these stereotypes limit who we become. Not every Asian is going to become a surgeon or doctor. I want to be a writer, and of course, I want to be successful in school, but it’s even more important for me to be different. A stereotype is a fixed, general belief that others have of us, and in no way do we have to follow them. Surprise the world and show them who you are.
Writer - Jasmine Kwok
Editor - Priyam Kusundal
Graphics - Jhem Picache