By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
I am a superhero. I’ve always known there was something different about me but until recently I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I made this startling discovery after reading an article on Asian stereotypes and why, according to the author, all stereotypes, whether good or bad, are offensive. I’m not sure I agree with his point considering how many of the stereotypes he mentioned were just so, gosh darn complimentary. But particularly with the U.S. Supreme Court currently hearing arguments about whether affirmative action policies are creating disadvantages to Asian students in the country, I thought it might help to look at some of these stereotypes.
Let’s do a quick run through of the stereotypes in question:
Asians are smart! Ok, yes…me.
Asians are born with PhD-level math skills! Umm hmm…me again.
Asians are hard working! Again…me.
Asians are humble! Stop already! You’re embarrassing me!
The evidence is in. I am a superhero. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have these traits?
But because I’m a superhero by virtue of my Asian-ness, that also means the other billion or so Asians in this world are my fellow superheroes.
In fact, with so many of us around, we have formed an alliance. We’ve put together a kind of brainiac superhero organization dedicated to the pursuit of solving all mathematical equations with one slide rule tied behind our backs. A crack squad of overachievers that can leap tall physics equations in a single bound, be faster than a speeding calculator, and more powerful than a supercomputer.
Look! Up at the Pi! It’s a bird. It’s a plane! It’s Superasian!!!
We’ve already taken this to the next level – conventions, tupperware parties, the whole nine yards (or 8.2296 meters, in case you were wondering). We have an annual dinner and instead of a keynote speaker, we just pour out a box full of used vacuum cleaner parts, batteries, duct tape and other odds and ends on stage and see where our imagination leads us.
Last year, I lost to Bonnie Yurimoto who won in the “Most Innovative” category, but I still say my hovercraft was way better.
All right, enough. Let me just take a moment to forcefully unstick the tongue placed firmly against my cheek and state, obviously, that I am being facetious.
In point of fact, I am a living, breathing example of an Asian that dispels most Asian stereotypes. I don’t really fit most of the positive ones or the negative ones for that matter.
My math skills are beyond embarrassing. I routinely go to the “15 items or less” counter at the supermarket with 17 or more items. When I use a calculator, I do each calculation twice because I don’t trust my ability to type the right keys. I boast to my wife that I got a B+ in Advanced Calculus in college but I neglect to mention that I didn’t understand it even when I was taking the class. If I recall, my calculus finals used a multiple- choice format and I was on a hot streak that day (Let’s see…I chose answer “B” last time so this time I’ll go for a “D”…).
I do work hard but that has less to do with being Asian and more to do with having three kids, one dog, a big mortgage, and a steady craving for Krispy Kreme donuts.
As far as whether I match up with negative Asian stereotypes, let’s see. I’m six feet tall, have never owned a laundry, did not study to be an engineer, don’t know what a pocket protector looks like, and I was a running back on my high school football team. And while my math skills have never taken me very far, I’ve always had a knack for writing.
None of that makes me super, but it suits me just fine.
Wayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.