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This list is written for RaceBridges by our colleagues from Ethnohtec Story Theatre

 

1. “Asian Americans are nerds, geeks”

Not so. All you have to do is recognize Jackie Chan, kung fu actor and comedian. There’s Bruce Lee, martial artist actor, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan, gold medalist ice skaters. There are also other medal winning skaters Kim Yu-na of South Korea, and sister-brother team, Danvi and Vu Pham, Vietnamese – to name only a few. Like in any population, Asians are a broad spectrum of personalities. There are many more Asians who could not be nerds or geeks even if they wanted to be!

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2. “Asian women are sexy; Asian men are not”

Stereotypes ? What is this based on? A biased attitude, seen from a narrow point of reference, and personal preference.If one looks at characters and images in movies, magazines and on TV, what is reflected is the creation of a white male industry portraying what is to be considered ‘sexy’, and it is is usually white. Asian women are chosen to fit that white stereotype with an added racist Asian-woman-seductress element. It’s all made up by a few white men and all of us, not just Asians, have been hypnotized by it. How can there be no ‘sexy’ Asian men? Statistically this is impossible. And the same goes for Asian women. All Asian women are ‘sexy’? Please. No more than all white women are ‘sexy’!

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3. “Asians are petite and short”

Like any population, there are many sizes. Sure many Asians tend to be shorter, but not all. There are many Asians peaking beyond 6 feet tall. Anyone can gain weight! Take a look at Japanese Sumo wrestlers or for height, there’s Yow Ming, Chinese basketball player at 7’6” and his girlfriend Chinese basketball player at 6’2”. Asians are 60% of the world population and in these populations there is a mixture of many faces and sizes just like in other groups.

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4.   “All Asian Americans are well educated”

The data tells a different story. In fact, Southeast Asians have the highest high school dropout rates in the country. 33% of Asian Americans students in public high schools drop out or do not graduate on time. 24% of Asian Americans over age 25 do not have a high school degree. The illiteracy rate of Asian Americans is 5.3 times that of non-Hispanic whites. http://www.asiannation.org/modelminority.shtml

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5.  “Asian Americans have made it to the mainstream and have become part of the accepted  American ‘melting pot”

In fact, Asian Americans in the first hundred and more years of living on American soil (as early as 1849) were singled out and victimized by discriminating behaviors and laws by European settlers. They were lynched, murdered, rounded up and marched out of communities. They were not allowed by law to stand witness against any white man in court, could not own land, were forbidden to immigrate, imprisoned in government internment  camps, forbidden to marry out of their own ethnic group and more.

All the above is even more alarming since there is evidence that the Chinese first arrived on the western shores of America as early as 2500BC and the eastern shores years before Columbus in the 1400s. Filipinos arrived in Louisiana in the 1700s.  Many Asians  were earlier Americans than Europeans. But this does not count.

Today,  research shows that Asian Americans are the fastest growing victims of hate crimes in America. 17% of Asian American boys in grades 5 through 12 reported physical abuse, as compared to 8% among white boys, and 30% of Asian American girls in  grades 5 through 12 reported depressive symptoms, as compared to white girls (22%), African American girls (17%), or Hispanic girls (27%), 46% of Asian American households do not have anyone over age 14 who can speak English well.

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6.  “Asian Americans are economically stable and successful”

In fact, 14% of Asian Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 13% of the U.S. population. In addition, while jobs pay Euro Americans $522 per every additional year of education beyond high school, Asian Americans make $379 per every additional year of education. In California, almost 40% of all Vietnamese refugees are on public assistance and in Minnesota and Wisconsin, an equal number of  Cambodians, Hmong, and Laotians also receive public assistance. In New York City, 52% of Asian American births in 1999 were paid for by Medicaid, indicating that their mothers are poor or near poor, more  than double that of 1990(22%). According to the  U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Asian-American men born in the United States are 7 percent to 11 percent less likely to hold managerial jobs than white men with the   same educational and experience level.

Informative sites :

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7.  “Asian Americans are passive, compliant and weak”

Well, there’s Mao.  There’s Chinese mothers!  American film most often depicts Asians as being mysterious, passive,China Dolls and as usual casting non-white men as being unattractive for women.  Look at all the Hollywood pairing of Asian women and white men: Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh in the James bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”; or look at all the female Asian newscasters, but rarely an Asian male newscaster; or the movie ‘The World of Suzie Wong” – a prostitute  who is paired with William Holden, a white  business man.  The women are either Dragon Lady types and the men ugly  fierce gang  or martial arts murderers, or they are the unattractive passive and weak.  Asians are rarely portrayed as just regular human beings.  Too often in films, the Asian passive  beauty is set as the standard as to how to attract and keep a man.  And never is an Asian competition to romantically win the leading man or woman.

Further Informative sites:

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The above list is written for RaceBridges by our colleagues from Ethnohtec Story Theatre : www.ethnohtec.org

  • We hope this list will energize you to explore the role of Asian Americans in this month of May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month..
  • This list is not meant to be all-encompassing. All Asian-Americans are not all from Pacific Asian origins. The continent of Asia is vast.  We hope the above list will stimulate discussion and exploration of an American ethnic group that we often classify with one name, but has many splendid and shining differences..
  • These stories of triumph, resilience and persistence speak of the many gifts that the Asian American peoples have brought to America.