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Underestimating Other AA
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:53:28 PM)

'm not like most Asians."
     How often have we heard those words escaping the lips of fellow Asian Americans? Or even our own lips?
     Typically those words are spoken to suggest that we aren't science nerds or that we are athletic rather than bookish or that we aren't sexist or submissive or materialistic. In short, we seem to utter them more to distance ourselves from stereotypes than from actual flesh-and-blood Asian Americans.
     Be that as it may, the phenomenon does suggest that we Asian Americans tend to see ourselves as somehow special in many respects -- better acculturated, more sophisticated, better educated, more assertive, more honest and trustworthy, more fun-loving, more athletic, more successful than our garden-variety peers.
Column Man
Underestimating ourselves?

     But wait. If every Asian American harbors the same sense of superiority, aren't we all shortchanging ourselves by collectively underestimating members of our own ethnic group?
     The phenomenon is widespread enough that even some non-Asians seem to feel comfortable telling us, "You aren't like other Asians." And widespread enough that some of us actually take it as a compliment.
     Are we our own worst enemies in refusing to see other AA as sharing the advantages and virtues we ascribe to ourselves? What factors lie behind this irrational assumption?

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WHAT YOU SAY

[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
i agree with AznPride
Asians who put down other asians to feel better r even more disgusting than whites
anyway, let me tell u about my ideas
u know what disgusts me the most? an idea that we can't compete with whites and blacks physically, it's the biggest bulls*** i've ever heard. and what makes it even worse is that some asians accept it sure on the average whites and blacks r taller and stronger than us, but in my opinion if u go to the extreme, it is us "the Asians" who r the tallest and strongest
wake up
   Tuesday, February 11, 2003 at 00:17:04 (PST)    [218.145.25.77]
Those Asians who put down other Asians to make themselves feel better have a serious mental issue that should be checked out. To see these people wallow in the depths of their low self-esteem is pitiful. It also angers me because their actions do not help to establish a positive image for all Asian Americans. How can we grow strong if we are not united?

Alas, we Asians are not united...so things are the way they are.
Azn Pryde
   Thursday, December 19, 2002 at 12:30:29 (PST)    [216.13.77.3]
Apache Driver,

We have a similar background. Been in the USA since 4. You should work on your Chinese accents.

HK people think I'm from HK or an HK guy that left in the 80's.

Taiwan people think I grew up in Taiwan.

People on the mainland think I'm from southern China somewhere.

Singaporean definitely don't think I'm from Singapore.

Just like the English I use most of the time is not ghetto-ized or Guiedo-ized. One should also be able to blend in a foreign tongue.
AC Dropout
   Thursday, December 05, 2002 at 11:18:05 (PST)    [24.136.115.189]
People, I'd love to hang out with other Asian folks. But the only place where there is a large group of Asians is the local church. And they are boring. I make friends by honesty, personality, and trustworthiness. Regardless of race. But I get what you all mean by "twinkies". That bugs the crap out of me. On the other hand Asians who go out of their way to be exclusively Asian-centric bug the crap out of me too.
JT
   Saturday, November 30, 2002 at 15:08:28 (PST)    [65.59.76.29]
What does make us more or less Asian?

I'm Singaporean Chinese, and I've lived in the US since I was 6. Singaporeans by nature do not fit in with "traditional" Chinese to begin with, but my childhood home in the US was definitely more Asian in general and Chinese in particular than anyone else's on the block, complete with my parents speaking in English, Singlish, Mandarin, and Hokkien.

I speak American-accented English; when I've met people who have spoken to me on the phone, they're almost always taken aback by me being an Asian (they had obviously been expecting a white guy).

In Hong Kong, people initially think I come from northern China. In Beijing, they think I come from Hong Kong. In Shanghai, they don't care, because I'm obviously not Shanghainese. :) In America, on sight at least, I'm Asian. Except with other Asian Americans, then I'm whitewashed. :)

What does it matter?

To me, it does not. I don't waste a lot of time or energy thinking about it.
Apache Driver
   Friday, November 29, 2002 at 15:24:24 (PST)    [67.84.132.190]
are we just confusing the me syndrome for arrogance?
hey you
   Thursday, November 28, 2002 at 16:47:36 (PST)    [61.74.95.24]
"I'm not like other Asians" is the best lie on earth that keeps us going. Traces back to our traditional fear of poverty. Blame the original AA immigrants who built their fortunes from scratch. They drive Lexus, but they know poverty. :)
1AM in Marin
   Sunday, November 24, 2002 at 23:55:04 (PST)    [207.173.174.234]
There may be some underestimation going on by our own fellow Asians, but let's not overstate the case. I think when an Asian American says, "I'm not like the other Asians", it is more of a shortcut for, "Don't put that whole stereotypical trip on me." It's unfortunate that it does come off as a putdown of other Asians, but it's usually not meant that way.

But I will grant there are some lamers who seem to see themselves as being something other than Asian. They are probably victims of families with very low self-esteem. I just stay away from those people.
Tan Man
   Friday, November 22, 2002 at 06:46:19 (PST)    [64.49.39.101]
CaliGirl,
When I was growing up in the 70s Asian Americans weren't really on the map. My parents figured it was best for me to try to fit into the white culture, so they tried a little too hard to suppress their own heritage. I know they probably did it for me, but all it did was make me have an inferiority complex about my heritage. I kept thinking, But why aren't they telling me about my heritage? Is it because they're ashamed? Is Asian culture inferior? Obviously there wasn't much in the way of positive answers to those questions, and I felt very ambivalent about my identity.
What got me started on reclaiming my culture was meeting other Asians in college. Then I saved up money and took a trip to Asia one summer and it really opened my eyes. I mean, it was NOTHING like the impression we're given by the media here. Asians are really quite sophisticated culturally and are a lot more open-minded about embracing the best of other cultures while preserving their own. There's actually something of a craze to reclaim their ancient heritage these days. I don't think it's possible to be a first-class people without embracing your native culture. Denial weakens, ya know what I mean?
Bloody Mari
   Wednesday, November 20, 2002 at 07:12:21 (PST)    [128.244.99.87]
CaliGirl:

Well I think when Bloody Mari says "that we were denied of our Asian culture when growing up" she means that if you grow up here in the U.S. there is very little Asian culture that is presented to you - whether it be in school, TV, movies, media in general, etc.

Also, depending on where you grew up you might have only been one of like 2 or 3 Asian families in town - and they might not even be the same nationalities (well your descendant nationality that is) as you either - haha.

If you go outside of southern California, you will see how few Asians there are in this country. Trust me, I did not grow up in California.
K-Dude
   Tuesday, November 19, 2002 at 09:21:44 (PST)    [151.198.161.131]
Bloody Mari

You said, "Seems to me a lot of the Asians who fail to make the grade turn to this whole Martha Stewart/WASP culture thing as a way of blowing off the whole AA scene and not have to face their failure. Seems the losers are always scrambling around trying to pick up all the Americn pop culture cast off by people like me who are trying to soak up all the Asian culture we were denied while growing up!"

I TOTALLY agree w/you and I am very sure these twinkies you are referring to would NEVER admit it. But I do have a question. Why did you say you were "denied" your culture while growing up? How were you denied it?

CaliGirl
   Monday, November 18, 2002 at 23:01:58 (PST)    [63.233.31.234]
Bloody Mari,
*Sigh* it's so tough being a completely secure Asian American! ;)
Actually, civility IS strained when I encounter Asians trying to put me down to feed their own little insecurities. I mean, how annoying is it to have the Wal-Mart (martha strewart) crowd looking down their shiny noses at my wood-fired celadon collection which probably cost about 50 times what they paid for their entire living rooms! I also hate it when they mistake my Asian art for prints and ask where they can buy a copy!
You know what really burns me though? When people think I'm naturally thin just because I'm Asian when the truth is I run 30 miles a week, bike 80 and swim 5. It's not right.
Tri-Me
   Monday, November 18, 2002 at 09:16:38 (PST)    [208.48.129.11]
Hiney,

Never heard that either. I was replying to ucsvt's earlier comment.
The carrot
   Friday, November 15, 2002 at 13:03:39 (PST)    [65.204.211.10]
Tri-Me,
Tell me about it!
Don't you love it when you get into a conversation with those people and it comes out that their credentials are all second or third-tier while yours make their eyes bug out? The most hilarious ones are those with white spouses who are under the delusion that that somehow makes them more American by association. Seems to me a lot of the Asians who fail to make the grade turn to this whole Martha Stewart/WASP culture thing as a way of blowing off the whole AA scene and not have to face their failure.
Seems the losers are always scrambling around trying to pick up all the Americn pop culture cast off by people like me who are trying to soak up all the Asian culture we were denied while growing up!
Bloody Mari
   Wednesday, November 13, 2002 at 22:32:44 (PST)    [128.244.99.87]

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