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Asian American Academic Achievement Ain't An Advantage
Do Asians have souls?
Recently, a guest essay came out in The New York Times, titled “Asian American Students Face Bias, But It’s Not What You Might Think.” In the essay, the author, an Asian American sociologist, argues that teachers see Asians as more competent and capable than other students, thus giving Asians an advantage. Some passages:
Asian Americans face bias in education, but not in the direction the plaintiffs claim. Research that I and others have done shows that K-12 teachers and schools may actually give Asian Americans a boost based on assumptions about race. Affirmative action policies currently in place in university admissions do not account for the positive bias that Asian Americans may experience before they apply to college.
In “The Asian American Achievement Paradox,” which I wrote with Min Zhou and is based on 162 interviews of Asian, Hispanic, Black and white adults in Los Angeles, we found that Asian American precollege students benefit from “stereotype promise”: Teachers assume they are smart, hard-working, high-achieving and morally deserving, which can boost the grades of academically mediocre Asian American students.
The sociologist Sean J. Drake drew on two years of ethnographic research in a highly ranked Southern California high school and found a similar positive bias toward Asian American students: “I don’t necessarily look at my classroom and treat a kid differently because they are Asian, but I know that if I have an Asian student in my classroom, I can count on that student. That student will probably work hard and be engaged. I can rely on that kid, and the parents, more so than I can for other groups,” one teacher told him.
Asian American students who have earned admission to Harvard are smart, promising and have no doubt worked very hard. But in ways that are most likely not visible to them, they may have also benefited from their racial status long before they applied. Race-conscious policies provide a mechanism to address this and other biases, and help level the field of opportunity for a diverse student body.
Unbelievable. Just to rub the MSG in, Columbia University’s official Twitter account tweeted a link to this article. Imagine being an Asian student at Columbia who had to score higher on the SAT than everyone else and have ten extracurriculars and find the cure for both cancer and AIDS just to get in, just to have your own school tell you you got in for being privileged. As if trying to get into an Ivy League school wasn't already masochistic enough for Asians. Are they trying to filter for Asians with humiliation kinks now? Hey, if they think all Asians are submissive, then maybe it works out.
There is already a glaring omission in the data: the lack of disaggregation of various Asian ethnic groups. A Cambodian American refugee in Stockton who still gets war flashbacks (either from the killing fields of Cambodia, or from the killing fields of Stockton) is nothing like an Indian American who owns three hotels in Atlanta.
So when the author talks about Asians, she means the ones that are usually stereotyped as successful: Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Indians. For the purpose of this rant, I will focus on the Asian groups that do have this stereotype, as those are the groups the author is talking about.
The author claims that teachers see Asians as more capable than other students. Yeah… but more capable in what? In math? Yeah, I suppose, the same way coaches see black students as better at basketball. Imagine being the only black student at school only for your peers to realize that you can’t rap or shoot hoops and basically act like a total minstrel, but in a cool way that is totally not just reducing you to your race? That’s why no stereotype is positive. What if you’re an Asian that sucks at math?
People hate having their biases challenged. A teacher who assumes Asians are all good at math is going to lose their head when an Asian comes in and can’t tell a numerator from a decapitator. For all the jokes about disappointed Asian parents when their kid doesn’t get an A+, it’s really the teachers who poo-pah the Asian slackers. (By the way, did you notice the title of this essay only has words beginning in A?) So the real question is: does it actually advantage Asians, or is it just selection bias for the Asians that actually are good at math?
So is “Asians are more competent at math” really a positive stereotype? Or does it actually say nothing about Asian academic success?
Now, would drama teachers have the same opinions of Asians? You think Kevin Li or Esther Kim are getting the lead role in the new musical anytime soon? Maybe if the Hamilton cast needed a day off and they didn’t want to have to use white people? Oh wait, remember that Asian score lower in “personality” than everyone else. And no, not on some Buzzfeed test to see which character of the new Netflix show you are. On the official Harvard admissions records, all students are assigned a personality score. Asians always average dead last. So what are these Harvard admission officers thinking about the AZN invazn on campuses these days?
Do Asians really have a personality? Do they really have souls? No, that can’t be. Black people have soul. And they have funk. And they have jive. When they walk, they do so with an exaggerated swagger. Damn, black people are just too cool. They’re so cool they invented the word cool. Oh, and maybe we need a little Latinx spice, some flavor, some picante. Throw a few Spanish words in with your English prose and you’ve got yourself a bestseller. Did you know that the X in Latinx stands for eXotic? And what about those Native Americans and their profound spirituality? It’s, like, so deep, man. We need one of those Massachusett Tribe folks to perform the land acknowledgement before every faculty
Now, what do Asians have? Nothing. Less than nothing. The modern Asian is an automaton manufactured in the assembly lines of Foxconn. It exists only to take your jobs via outsourcing to Asia, and then to immigrate to America and take your kids’ college spots too. The robots truly have taken over. Those shifty Orientals haven’t been adding spice to white lives since Marco Polo traversed the Silk Road.
When the article talks about “stereotype promise”, you know what that means? It means they think Asians will just sit at their chairs in class and do all the work and turn it in and do more work until they can do even more work but an extra helping of even more work. Oh, and when you place one Asian in a room, that Asian’s power compounds when you add another Asian to the equation. It’s the 888th law of thermodynamics. One Asian is a mindless automaton. Two Asians are a hive mind. Three Asians are that group of international students you walk past and wonder why all the Asians only seem to hang out with other Asians. Five Asians are a rave train at EDC. Seven Asians are the boy band your teenager loves. Ten Asians are your high school’s Key Club. And a hundred Asians are… wait, where are all of you white folks going? Don’t you affluent white techies want to send your kids to this good school? It’s full of Asians now! I thought we were white-adjacent!? Why don’t these whites want to be adjacent to us in the classroom?
So yeah, some teachers see Asian students as more capable and let them into advanced placement classes quicker. And Asian grades have remained high. Would they dare try this experiment with other races? I think not. Any possible “advantage” this could ever bring Asians is erased by the massive discrimin-asian we have to face in terms of our “personalities”. Of course, the only Asians immune to this are the professional-managerial class strivers who know that the only way for an Asian to have a good personality is to pretend to be white and get some white guilt through osmosis and write articles in Slate about how Asians are all super striver robots except for you.
How are Asian kids acing all these high school classes anyway? The answer to that question is like the answer to the question of who’s been attacking all those elderly Asians across American cities: The mainstream media refuses to tell us, so I guess we’ll never know.
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