The Asian penalty

We all know that elite schools in the US discriminate against Asian applicants, essentially imposing a penalty for being Asian. And they have been rather pathetically pretending that such is not the case in spite of all the statistical evidence to the contrary. On this, people have said things like: where is affirmative action for Asians in the NBA/NFL? Well, today one of my colleagues who is a keen baseball fan, and probably also an NBA one, was talking about how there is even an Asian penalty in the NBA. Like, Asians are typically under-drafted, which means their number or rank in the draft is under commensurate with their actual ability and value at basketball. He says it’s due to the negative perception being Asian is for basketball in terms of how good one is yada yada yada. I haven’t paid attention to basketball for a long time, but I do remember the Linsanity several years ago, and when I was a kid, one who was a keen NBA fan, all the talk about Yao Ming. Last I checked Asians account for 0.2% of the NBA players, which means just a few names. Well, there is the height disadvantage after all. This was actually somewhat surprising to me, perhaps influenced by the fact that Yao Ming seemed to be overvalued due to the money he would bring from all the Chinese fans. So not only is there not affirmative action for Asians in the NBA, there is the same discrimination, the same penalty, the same stereotypes against Asians as in college admissions. Now that really sucks!

Now to something else that saddens me greatly that is a consequence of the current discriminatory policies against Asians in college admissions. Some Asian-Americans are afraid to check Asian and even afraid to engage in activities/pursuits they have gift and passion for, or at least some intrinsic interest in, under the fear that those are too Asian. Some are even afraid to show their Asian heritage and even reject their roots, which is quite sad, as you are who you are, in terms of your cultural background and denying it mostly makes you look quite pathetic. At least based on what I experienced growing up Asian in the states, many if not most Asian kids, even smart ones, try to distance themselves from their parents’ culture and are reluctant to learn or speak their parents’ native language, under social pressures osmosed in them by the whole American public school experience. Chinese culture is a pretty fucking cool and rich culture, with a beautiful language of artistic virtue that comes with a rich history. It is a pity that it is so misunderstood and that the American education system pressures against it in those from that cultural background. This is anti-intellectual in fact too, ironic as it is instigated partly by elite educational institutions, as reading multiple languages makes one’s mental world and whole spiritual existence a hell of a lot more interesting, an inevitable product of access of more diverse information.

To sum it up, it looks like all across the board America treats Asians as second class citizens. Yes, Asians are mostly new immigrants, but this is in fact overstated. As early as in the 19th century, Chinese in America were made to do much of the most dangerous work building the Transcontinental Railroad only to suffer the Chinese Exclusion Act. In the 20th century especially later on, Chinese as well as Indians, in addition to Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, have created tremendous wealth for America, largely in science and engineering fields. Asians in America have mostly been busy working, busy creating, and some in hard menial labor in wretched conditions, with such being a major contributor to Asians, as a group, being seen as passive and apolitical, creating a self-pertuating stereotype. On this, Steve Hsu has expressed on his blog how slow the Asian community has been to organize against the double standards imposed on them in college applications, relative to the what Jewish community had done when the same had been unjustly instituted against them. Given the voluminous extent to which Asians as a group have contributed to America in terms of innovation and value creation, Asians have every right to demand that they are fairly considered for all positions, and leadership positions in particular, based on merit, which is not happening right now. On this more Asian-Americans ought to muster the courage to speak up for what is right, as Steve Hsu, Yukong Zhao, and Jian Li, among many others, have done amidst resistance.

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