Friday, September 26, 2008

Pinche Chino

By Glenn Sakata

Is little bit of equality too much to ask?

Did you know that Asians used to be considered a minority? Back before we began to, God forbid, prosper. It seems that just because most of us aren’t holding up liquor stores and taking welfare checks that we are no longer a minority race.

Things like affirmative action were created to help minorities, but they seem to have left out Asians. Awhile back, there was a black girl in my trig class. She had a lot of trouble and didn’t take calculus the next year. She is going to Stanford. When I was a freshman, I did a project with another black girl who could barely form a coherent sentence. She’s going to UC Berkeley. I also have a Chinese friend. 4’s and 5’s on 9 AP exams, 1530 SAT score, 3.95 unweighted GPA, accomplished violinist, and the list goes on. He was rejected from Stanford.

While my friend now happily resides at Yale, the injustice makes my head hurt. Are colleges so concerned about diversity that they are willing to turn down people like my Chinese friend in lieu of a slightly above average black girl? Just to be fair? We Asians aren’t successful because we have an intelligence gene… we’re successful because we work hard.

I’m tired of my academic achievements being blown off just because I’m Asian. Everywhere I go, when I tell people I’m an A student, I hear, “Oh, you’re lucky you’re Asian.” Lucky I’m Asian? I worked my ass for my grades, and I get no respect whatsoever. This is not only the fault of other races though. Asians do this too. Asian parents are the worst. I cringe every time I hear an Asian mother yelling at her son for getting an A instead of an A+. Ironically, though, it is this coldness that Asian parents exhibit towards their children that make Asians so successful. We don’t get any of the loving support and accolades for simply trying our best. Instead, we get threats and commands. Is it any wonder we do so well in school? And considering that we are now discriminated against for doing well, is it really worth it?

Maybe we would get some more recognition as a minority race if we weren’t so quiet and respectful. Our culture teaches us to always be polite, always clean up after ourselves, and never make trouble. No one complains about any of the racism we encounter daily. Going to a predominately Mexican middle school, I was referred to most often as “pinche chino” (fucking chinese), and no teacher ever batted an eye. I’m sure if I ever called someone a “nigger” or even “pinche mexicano”, I’d be on the evening news as the 11 year-old racist chink. Where’s the justice?

My vision for the future is the same as most people. I want a world where people are judged based on their merits and not by the color of their skin. I want to be judged based on my achievements and not because my name is Glenn Sakata instead of Pedro Sanchez. So what if the best schools become 75% Asian? Hitler targeted the Jews because the people already resented them. Jews were hard workers and were taking up many of the good jobs. Are Asians destined for the same fate? Maybe it’s already happened. In World War II, the Japanese were relocated to concentration camps. The Germans remained free.

Now if Jesse Jackson were Asian, we’d be set. We’d even have our own cable channel. Forget BET, we need some AET. And some Korean dramas. K-Pop music videos. Anyone else wanna turn on the TV and see Lee Hyo Ri dancing away? Until then, I guess I’m stuck listening to my imported CDs while I study the night away.

Filed under: Culture • (10) CommentsPermalink

Glenn, Congrats on dividing minorities even further. It's great that you start out harping on how Asian Americans aren't considered minorities anymore, but go on to not so subtly bash Latinos and African Americans. No, no. . . you wouldn't actually come out and admit that you're a racist. If you were white, you would be the "I'm not racist, but. . . "type. AreYou may have excelled at math scores, but your writing needs some brushing up. Helen

Posted by  on  09/26  at  10:48 PM

Helen, I agree with you on many of your points. First, let me say that I wrote this article in high school for the old iistix site and yes, my writing definitely left much to be desired. Many years have passed since then (making certain points like SAT scores horribly obsolete) and Asian Americans have come a long way, but I still strongly believe that there is a double standard of racism against Asians. Shaq on Yao Ming: Fuzzy Zoeller on Tiger Woods Is it fair that Zoeller's comments cost him his career while Shaq's comments flew by almost completely unnoticed? Yes, most Asians weren't that offended (including myself to be honest) but perhaps that is the heart of the problem. As a teenager, I might not have seen enough of the world to come up with better examples but having seen much more of the world now, I still stand by the spirit of my article completely. -Glenn

Posted by  on  09/27  at  04:53 PM

Wow, I apologize for the lack of formatting in the above post... All of my newlines disappeared!

Posted by  on  09/27  at  04:54 PM

Most legacy students at elite institutions are white. Aren’t they beneficiaries of a type of “affirmative action?” Do scholarship athletes generally score 1530 on the SAT? What about the many white students who were admitted at higher admission rates than their Asian counterparts, even though applicants from the latter group are often found to have had higher academic qualifications than the former? Who is to say that a middle class Asian American high school student who had access to AP coursework, SAT prep classes, well-trained teachers, and up-to-date technology will be more successful at university than a lower income black student who had few school resources, greater social obstacles to overcome (e.g. neighborhood crime), and yet STILL managed to meet the minimum requirements for entrance into a given academic institution?

Posted by  on  11/06  at  08:45 PM

Affirmative action is largely about providing opportunities for those who are not able to compete fairly on a level playing field. Although I do believe that certain segments of Asian America (e.g. lower income students, students from underrepresented ethnic groups) should qualify for affirmative action due to their disenfranchisement in the larger U.S. society, middle class Asians who have access to practically the same resources as their white counterparts should arguably be EXCLUDED from current affirmative action policies. In truth, white students are Asian American students’ biggest competitors for admissions slots at elite institutions, not black and Latino students. Moreover, white and Asian students are able to compete on relatively level playing fields with one another, but historical data reveals that the former have received preferential treatment in admissions, despite often being academically outperformed by the latter group. [refer to the research of Don Nakanishi and Dana Takagi]

Posted by  on  11/06  at  08:45 PM

Frankly, I do not have the resolve or energy to write several more paragraphs on why your perspective of affirmative action is limited in scope. Therefore, I would like to direct your attention to an article by law professors Jerry Kang, Gabriel Chin, Sumi Cho, and Frank Wu that presents a progressive argument for continued affirmative action from an Asian American perspective.

Posted by  on  11/06  at  08:46 PM

“Maybe we would get some more recognition as a minority race if we weren’t so quiet and respectful. Our culture teaches us to always be polite, always clean up after ourselves, and never make trouble. No one complains about any of the racism we encounter daily.” Your observation infers a lack of exposure to Asian American history, otherwise you would have been familiar with the countless number of Asians who made “noise” as they sought to create a more socially just world. For starters, you would do yourself a favor by learning more about Grace Lee Boggs, Phillip Vera Cruz, Yuri Kochiyama, Karl Yoneda, Happy Lim, Glenn Omatsu, Bao Phi, Mine Okubo, and the hundreds of Chinese litigants in 19th century America who used the courts to fight one anti-Chinese law after another. Study their lives so that you can find the types of role models you desire. Asian Americans often internalize those qualities that white Americans PROJECT onto Asians, and it is not by accident that such qualities (e.g. passive, dependent, subservient, quiet, etc.) are non-threatening to the status quo. DECOLONIZE your mind, otherwise you will continue to see the world from a white perspective (which helps to explain why so much of your anger regarding affirmative action is directed at blacks and Latinos).

Posted by  on  11/06  at  08:47 PM

In all fairness to the author, he wrote this a long time ago. What I'd like to see is another article detailing the changes in his perspective now. (my not so subtle attempt at seeing more articles on iistix.)

Posted by  on  11/07  at  12:16 AM

Glenn may have written his article "a long time ago," but the content of his work should not escape critique from those who may have a disagreement with him, especially since he goes on to note that whatever flaws may have existed in his original essay, he still stands "by the spirit" of his article. Moreover, it is important to engage in a critique of the article's content because so many OTHER people also share the same sentiment as the teenage Glenn. Finally: to jay99, as you await more articles from iistix, I recommend (if you haven't already) that you check out Angry Asian Man, Racialicious, and DISGRASIAN--the discourse at these blogs is both engaging, insightful, and edgy.

Posted by  on  11/07  at  03:24 PM





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