By Xiahui (Forest) Huang
Being a typical Chinese who immigrated to the “land of the free” two years ago and unable to speak English fluently, ignorance and isolation are what I usually experience from others.
I realize that most Asian American immigrants also have similar experiences , and the negative impressions of Asian Americans solidify society’s stereotypes. In order to alter this perception, we need to acquire a stronger presence and modify our cultural values.
Before tennis player Michael Chang and other Asian American pioneers, we were not recognized and treated as equally as the rest of society. From the Chinese Exclusions Act to the internment of Japanese Americans, Asian Americans were treated like those of a lower class.
Nowadays, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and other Asian Hollywood stars are more popular than ever. The discrimination against Asian Americans has lessened enormously.
However, there are still stereotypes. In pop culture, Asian Americans are usually recognized as hardworking and smart, but as having different cultural values and lacking the courage to become leaders.
Stereotypes can influence our careers, perspectives, and even our own community hierarchy. We can alter the stereotype by changing how we are perceived in society. A large number of Asian Americans need to embrace their uniqueness.
Minorities with adequate leadership skills who are quieter and exude less confidence in giving a speech are less likely to be elected as leaders. The reason is that they lack the uniqueness or presence to distinguish themselves from other candidates.
In order to gain that uniqueness within society, we need to be brave and try to be more confident in our capabilities.
In the United States, professional athletes are more esteemed than college professors because society respects physicality and competitiveness more than education. However, it is the opposite in Asia. The differing sense of worth is a factor that creates the Asian American stereotype. We need to modify our cultural understandings in order to blend with society. ♦
Xiahui (Forest) Huang can be reached at email@example.com.
(The stories in this issue are written by SYLP students, not Northwest Asian Weekly staff. Opinions herein do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the newspaper.)