I Hate Being Called A "Smart Asian"

I Hate Being Called A "Smart Asian"

With this ‘positive' discrimination created by society, I’m not allowed to do poorly on an exam without questioning my very identity and whether or not I deserve to even be my own race.

“I wish I was Asian, you guys are so good at everything.”

“It’s not even a surprise that you got an A, you’re Asian.”

“Why did you get a bad grade, aren’t you Asian?”

These are the things I grew up hearing as I continued on from grade school all the way to university. Asian, Asian, Asian. That was the only identity I knew for the majority of my life. It is the word that many others use to define me and an explanation for the way I am or who I am. I didn’t know how to see myself other than “that smart Asian girl.” Don’t get me wrong, I love who I am; what really frustrates me is the perpetuation of stereotypes upon me.

I remember in my senior year when I took a Sociology class, the topic of a 'positive stereotype' came up in class. Stereotypes are generally seen in a negative light because they give an oversimplified image for a specific group of people, but my professor’s argument was that not all stereotypes are necessarily bad. “There can be good stereotypes. Let me give you an example,” he continued, “Asians are smart.”

Hearing that as a young, insecure seventeen-year-old girl, I automatically brightened. At that time, I felt one of the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life. College applications were due soon, the stress of finding and applying for scholarships, working 25 hours per week, and on top of that I had my classes which I regretfully did not prioritize. So if I was feeling low and if people could see me as smart and talented just from who I was born as, didn’t I want that? I embraced the idea of a positive stereotype and took it in stride. It wasn’t until only recently that I realized how problematic this view on us is, and its potentially detrimental effects as well as the perpetuation of the 'Model Minority.'

By labeling the stereotype that all Asians are smart as a ‘positive stereotype,’ we as a society are ignoring its effects on the intended audience. On the subsurface, it comes off as a compliment and something that we as Asians should take well. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be considered smart, right? Wrong. By encouraging these ideals, there is opportunity to invalidate the achievements people have garnered. When I got a good grade on a paper, a test, or passed the year with a 4.0 GPA, to other people it wasn’t because I worked myself nearly to death and pulled all-nighters to study for exams, it was because I’m Asian and nothing less than that is expected from me.

Not only does it invalidate my success as a student or as an individual, but it continues to make me feel like I’m not enough as a person. I’ll be the first to say that I’m definitely not a perfect person. I make mistakes, I’ve failed on several things, and I haven’t gotten an ‘A’ in every single course I’ve taken. I remember once in class someone asked me what grade I got on my Pre-calculus test and I told them it was a ‘C.’ Rather than asking why, or sympathizing, or even anything else, they said, “You got a C? Are you even Asian?” With this "positive" discrimination created by society, I’m not allowed to do poorly on an exam without questioning my very identity and whether or not I deserve to even be my own race. And though these problems of imposing the idea of a positive discrimination are important to discuss, it exposes the even deeper issues of why this was invented in the first place.

We all know what the ‘model minority’ is. It is a group of minority people who are perceived to achieve higher success than the average person. And who is the poster child for it? Asians. With this idea of a model minority, it instigates a deeper divide of trying to address the issue of racism. By society saying Asians are achieving success at a higher rate than other minorities because we work harder than others or our values are in the right place, it creates an automatic contrast that says black people or other people of color are not able to achieve this level of advancement simply because “they’re not working hard enough,” therefore implicitly placing the blame of their ostracization in society on themselves rather than actually admitting that we, as a whole, are a racist society. It was a mechanism created in an attempt to cause a split between people of color, making them go against each other, instead of actually tackling the complications of racism.

So next time you see a talented person who happens to be of Asian descent, don’t make some off-hand joke about them only being able to do it “because they’re Asian” or if they fail at something, they definitely can’t be Asian because Asians are good at everything. Because by doing this, you would be contributing to the enemies, both literally and figuratively, that people of color already face and inhibit our ability to be seen fully without judgement.

Cover Image Credit: The State

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8 Things Every Asian American Is Tired Of Hearing

Surprise, we don’t see a slanted world and no, we don’t eat our pets.

Today, cellphones can be charged wirelessly, drones are a household item, and we can order something online to have it arrive at our doorstep 24 hours later. In this same time period, it’s hard to imagine that racism and discrimination still exists. To the 90% who make conscious decisions to be respectful to all races: you rock, keep doing what you’re doing. To the 10% who don’t - this is for you.

Asian Americans have always been considered the model minority - the group who never speaks up and just accepts everything thrown at them, but we have limits too. Here are 8 things that 99% of us have heard countless times and are tired of hearing.

1. ”Where are you really from?”

This is a question that anyone who isn’t Caucasian is probably tired of hearing. Is it really so hard to accept that someone who wears a hijab or someone with straight black hair and mono-lid eyes could be born in Texas? Can only people with pale skin and blue eyes have been born in one of the biggest cultural melting pots in the world?

Don’t get me wrong. We don’t get offended if you want to know about our history. We just don’t like being categorized into a race simply because of certain features we have.

2. Comments on the size of our eyes

We have heard many variations of “Do you see a slanted world?” and “Nice eyes!” making fun of our eye size. Our world looks the same as any other person (I know, what a surprise). While it is true that Asians tend to have more monolids and smaller eyes, it’s just plain rude to insult someone and make assumptions about someone just by their appearance. We don’t comment on your physical features, so don’t comment on ours if you have nothing constructive to say.

3. “You must be good at math”

For the record, being thought to be smarter than you think you are is inherently not a bad thing. However, being thought to be good at a specific subject based on your race is not. In classes throughout middle school and high school, people I didn’t even know would come to me and ask me to solve math problems they couldn’t solve before even asking for my name. These same people would talk to me in math class, then completely ignore my existence the other 90% of the time.

Joke’s on you - I suck at math. Probably even gave you some wrong answers.

4. “You’re always so stingy”

There’s a difference between being stingy and being conscious about money spending habits. Most of us were taught at a young age to save money, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to manage money well. Yes, we might give up a hangout because we wanted to spend that $30 on groceries and necessities instead, but what’s wrong with that? At the end of the day, we’re just trying to budget well and be responsible in case something unexpected happens.

5. Puns on our names

A common one I hear often is: “If I hit some pans together it sounds like your last name!”

Our first and last names have much deeper meanings and nicer sounding tones in our original language, so don’t disrespect that. If your name is translated into another language, I’m sure it wouldn’t sound like how it’s supposed to either. Sometimes it’s better to just not speak if you don’t have anything constructive to say. So just don’t.

6. “What are you eating?? That’s disgusting.”

Every culture has its own cuisine and all cuisines are going to smell and look different. Just because samosas or chicken feet don’t smell like rosemary and thyme, that doesn’t mean you have the right to call it gross. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. Don’t comment on it. Just let us be.

7. “Ni Hao”, “Konnichiwa”

First of all, just because we look a certain race, that does not mean we speak that language. In fact, most of the time people do this, they don’t even get the right language. I speak English perfectly fine, so don’t greet us like this if you don’t plan on speaking a full conversation in that language. If you really want to learn a new language, make sure the person you’re talking to actually speaks the language.

8. “I’m not racist because I have Asian friends too”

By that logic, I would be good at basketball because I owned basketball shoes. Having friends the same race as me does not mean racism rules don’t apply to you. In fact, having Asian American friends should make you even more aware of the social issues we face every day instead of being completely ignorant of them.

If you’ve said one of these before, don’t sweat it. Learn from this and don’t do it again.

It’s not that hard to just be polite.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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10 Things You'll Relate To If You're Asian-American

A bunch of similarities that we all have.

I'm proud of my Asian heritage and culture, and I know I'm not the only one. There's a number of things that every Asian-American can relate to; we all share some similarities. From lion statues to zodiac animals, you know you love the culture.


1. You drink bubble tea more often than you get Dunkin Donuts.

I mean, what else are you going to get instead of a lychee boba drink? And can't forget that large straw.


2. You have a PhD in chopstick usage.

Everyone knows you're the expert. You spend time teaching your friends the art of the two-stick utensil.


3. Instead of worrying about your "American" zodiac, you're more concerned with your Chinese zodiac animal.

Come on, you know you like knowing if your friend is a snake or a rooster. Tiger girl over here.


4. 'Helicopter parenting' is a familiar term.

You're no stranger to the harshness and strictness of Asian parenting, and most of your non-Asian counterparts struggle to understand why you can't leave the house past 10:00 PM.


5. Grades are *especially* important.

Let me break down the Asian grading system for you. A is average. B is bad. C is catastrophic. D is disowned. F is forgotten forever. So make sure you always keep your grades up... just in case your mom gets a new 'back scratcher'.


6. You look forward to Chinese New Year.

Not just for the money, but for the red decorations, bins full of candy, and, yeah, getting new clothes.


7. Your friends ask you to go to the nail salon with them.

We all know why. But, to clarify, it's because nail artists are notorious for mumbling dirt about you while taking care of your nails and pressuring you to spend more money that you don't have. Bridging the communication gap is always helpful in learning gossip about yourself while saving a couple dollars at the salon.


8. You like obscure foods that smell and/or taste weird.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm talking about tofu, soy sauce, durian, lychee, longan, persimmon, various odd herbs... did I forget anything?


9. You feel at home in Chinatown.

There's nothing like walking through the gate and just feeling COMFORTABLE. Lion statues, cute little novelty stores, pho restaurants, jade bracelets, and the smell. Everything is a comforting reminder of 'home', even if you're not actually from China or any other Asian country, for that matter.


10. You have an old photo of you in front of an 'offering table' wearing some traditional clothing.

We all know it's hidden away in the back of your mind. Don't worry, your secret's safe with us.

Cover Image Credit: pxhere

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