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Underestimating Other AA
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:53:27 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.]
Asian Ams in NYC,
You may have misunderstood me a bit. I wasn't saying I'm disappointed at the lack of financial success of some AA. I meant that the ones who are less educated and less aware (you don't sound like one of those), seem to think they're the ones who are more "American" or hipper than other AA. It seems paradoxical but I've found that the more successful you are (at least among AA), the less likely you are to be judgmental of other Asians.
Tri-Me
   Saturday, November 09, 2002 at 16:41:32 (PST)    [208.48.129.11]
Aww... Ed! That's not cool! You edited my post!
TSJ
Eric@KristinKreuk.net    Friday, November 08, 2002 at 11:49:06 (PST)    [66.81.52.96]

[Sorry, dude. We were hired to be moderately anal. Coolth is alien to our nature. --Ed]
The carrot:

Hmm, never heard of Asians being partial to Heineken. Where is it that that is popular with Asians?
Hiney?
   Friday, November 08, 2002 at 09:40:10 (PST)    [151.198.163.212]
TSJ:

Yes I hate Asian Ams who constantly think they are better than FOBs. Don't they even remember that our parents were FOB's? My parents moved from China to Texas in the seventies - and it wasn't easy - it was a hard life then. It's better now that there are at least some more Asians in Texas, but then, there weren't many. I remember some incidents of discrimination that my parents (and myself) went through, so I think you should people should be ashamed of themselves if they talk bad about FOB's.
FOB bred
   Friday, November 08, 2002 at 08:28:56 (PST)    [151.198.163.212]
TriMe:

Sorry I forgot to add traders to the list of common professions for well educated young Asian Ams in NYC. "Hey I made $125,000" my first year out of college and YOU make $50,000? How do you survive? I barely cover my expenses with the $200,000 I make now!"
Asian Ams in NYC
   Friday, November 08, 2002 at 07:51:23 (PST)    [151.198.163.212]
Tri-Me:

Yes, I understand what you are saying. Especially in NYC. If you are a working professional and mingle with largely Asian American social circles/gatherings, then you often feel intimidated by the Asian Americans you meet. At least I do. I work in an industry that is not, so "mainstream" for young well educated asian americans. I'm not a doctor, not a lawyer, not a programmer, not an accountant, nor am I a consultant (which shocks some well educated young Asian Americans - their reaction is something along the lines of - "Wait, you're not a doctor, you're not a lawyer, not a programmer, and you're not even an accountant - you graduated with a liberal arts degree, yet you're not even a consultant working for Andersen? What are you thinking? How can you survive?).

See in NYC, if you meet a lot of young Asian Am professionals you will meet so many of them who graduated Ivy League and are either a doctor, lawyer, programmer, accountant - or as a last resort - a consultant (I never understood that - what do consultants do? You mean that there are businesses out there that would pay money to have young arrogant brats come to their work site and tell them how to run their own business?) It's a little intimidating and even though you know full well the folly of their preassumed view of your career - and the folly of the preassumed smugness of their own condition.

I know a lot of Asian Ams in NYC may disagree with my observation, but this is what I have noticed. I am Chinese and it is predominantly young well educated professional Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans that make up the social circles I find myself within.

I am originally from Texas.
Asian Ams in NYC
   Friday, November 08, 2002 at 07:39:53 (PST)    [151.198.163.212]
Sublime,

i agree being from oz myself.....i think if anything Australia doesn't have this pressure to conform and assimilate that you find elsewhere.....there's no overt displays of patriotism and if you're part of an ethnic minority and want to live in a bubble then you can.....i know both asians who only hang with asians and those who "mix it up".....i think the main pressure in oz is to be ocker and spend half your life in the pub and the other half watching footy.....and this is easy enough to move beyond if you have half a brain!
maxdacat
   Friday, November 08, 2002 at 01:43:21 (PST)    [129.227.32.26]
Hey, what's wrong with "FOBS" anyways? At some point, our ancestors were immigrants. Sometimes I wish I wasn't born here because although I speak my native language and practice customs, I feel like such a sellout compared to them. I really resent it when I am labeled as a twinkie. I actually get along better with HK people than ABC's.
TSJ
Eric@KristinKreuk.net    Friday, November 08, 2002 at 00:37:59 (PST)    [67.116.231.150]
Well, u can't change what other people do, the only thing u can hope to do is to influence them through your own actions. If u want other AA's to be more proud of their culture and stop selling themselves short, then be a role model and show ppl that YOU are proud of being asian. Through ur own actions, u can influence others who in turn can influence even more ppl. That is the only way that this will ever change. So instead of complaining about it, do something! Start a culture club and teach ppl to appreciate the great eclectic mix of cultures, including Asian culture, that is in America. GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Kimchi
moxiezbug@yahoo.com    Thursday, November 07, 2002 at 21:04:06 (PST)    [66.27.81.202]
"Talks about the depths of AA self contempt. Another phenom: "You are really good looking - not like the typical Asian."

I've had women of all races describe me in that way. Most disheartening, though, is when AA women say same. "

I get a version of that, except throw in "Korean" for Asian. I do not only hang out in all Korean cliques, in fact I hang out with ppl from all backgrounds. I speak like a suburban white kid, I dress with a lot of color (red, green, blue, purple, white, whatever), and I am very friendly and out going, not stoic-looking like many Asians. It's irritating when a Korean girl goes "ur different from other Koreans", acts like she gave me compliment and then goes off to date some blonde-banged, slicked-hair Koreatown FOB.
Erg
   Thursday, November 07, 2002 at 19:47:59 (PST)    [128.253.186.46]
LSD - are you tripping ? - have you ever spent a significant amount of time in Aust, NZ or Europe ? the comment "Act collectively due to social limitations " is a pretty naive and ill informed statement.
i live in oz where asians abound, I know of them in every corner of society, they are not all doctors or engineers. My father is a school teacher, my girlfriend is an artist (shes asian too)...i know gay asians, asians in the army, "nerdy" (no offence) asians, Asians that are more Aussie than Crocodile Dundee, Asians that hate clubing with other Asians, Asians that hang out in Chinatown, Asians that had their own Big Fat Greek Weddings (i.e intermarriage)..the list goes on...the point is most Asians in Oz dont act collectively for any reason, they act collectively out of their own free will..the same goes for the uk, i have oz-asian friends doing the working holiday thing in the uk having the time of their life they live how they want , where they want and to nobody's rules but their own.
Sublime
   Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 19:48:55 (PST)    [203.47.209.4]
To those AAs who want to see Asians as being 'collective'...For me being a New Yorker, I would say 'Fugettaboutit'

There is no other country in the world except the US, where Asians are given the freedom to become something different, and most important, unique.

In Asia, people act in collective ways as society dictates. In European countries, Australia, and NZ Asians act collectively due to societal limitations, and perhaps discrimination. In 3rd world countries, Asians are nothing but merchants, and middlemen.

In America, freedom is granted to anyone who wants to be different, and much of it is cherished if the such differences will not intefere with civilian life. I say Asians should take this opportunity to its fullest...just like Jews have taken advantage of America because of her religious tolerance and capitalism!
LSD
   Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 11:49:47 (PST)    [66.212.81.229]
The most annoying are the F.O.B.ish Asians who somehow get it in their heads that they are more hip and americanized than you because they color their hair or are fashion victims and you aren't. There seems to be a lot of Koreans, Viets and Filipinos like that. Also a lot of those HK Chinese are like that too. It makes it hard to be nice to them.
Still I try to follow the golden rule: assume they're just as American as you, no matter how bad their fashion sense.
Nutmeg
   Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 07:09:22 (PST)    [202.162.17.88]
My problem isn't underestimating other Asian Americans, it's sometimes overestimating them. I tend to assume other Asians I meet are educated, successful, proud of their heritages and warmly disposed toward me because of our shared heritage. My expectations are usually borne out, but I have been disappoined on occasions. The ones who have disappointed me are those who tend to be less intelligent/educated and have a spotty knowledge of Asian American history and demographics.
Tri-Me
   Sunday, November 03, 2002 at 20:48:51 (PST)    [208.48.129.11]
ucsvt:

uhh...I know alot of Asians who:

Like America
Drink other beer other than Heineken
Drive Mustangs
Are NRA members
and have ABC girlfriends

You're not that different.
The carrot
   Sunday, November 03, 2002 at 17:45:55 (PST)    [65.69.8.54]

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