An individual case I was reminded of, that well illustrates the devaluation of talent (as well as lack of privilege for Asians in America)

I know of a guy (and know well someone who is familiar with him) with elite academic credentials at the high school level. They were elite and outstanding and rare enough to get him into top US school for undergrad as an international applicant. All three summers between his college years, he interned at [name of top big software company], and from what I heard, he worked his ass off there. But the offer he got for full time was basically the same as every other new grad, with the exception of some intern return offer bonus.

He was pissed and decided to try his chance at some startup. That startup was acquired by [name of well known but nowhere near as lucrative big company] before he was there for a year and he joined the acquiring large company. But not much more than a year there if not less, he, in order to increase his compensation, changed to the company he interned at three times, at the same level that a new grad would get there.

Basically, this is a big, rich software company and the industry at large taking advantage of a highly talented, eager, but socially clueless kid. The guy was used to being at the top of the academic meritocracy pecking order, and he expected the real world to be same, but was shocked and pissed to discover that he was not valued economically any more highly than all those mediocrities, despite his working harder and contributing more value to the company.

This kid was probably so busy and consumed with his studying and IQ and academic excellence that it never occurred to him to look a bit into a phenomenon that could be described as “rich, upper class white male privilege.” It probably never occurred to him that the end result of his excellence would likely be one of creating value for the benefit of that for a merely high but nothing to brag home about compensation.

I have in general less patience for some of the rather flawed social attitudes I see among Chinese in America. Some of them go there and think they’ll do so well, and when their result is mediocre or merely good, often below what their ability merits, they place some false hopes on their children. The statistical reality is that the kid of a Chinese STEM immigrant in America is more likely to do worse socioeconomically than his parents than to do better; the ones who were able to immigrate to US via the STEM route actually made it past a mostly meritocratic selection, and there kids more often than not regress a bit to the mean. As a yellow kid, they’re not likely to develop any real connections in America either, and on top of that, they lose the potential to develop meaningful or useful connections with other Chinese that their parents did.

Some may cite the few high up Chinese in America (mostly in STEM and even if they’re rich, almost always they don’t have much real power or social status either) as counterexample. Of course, they will exist. After all, there are 5 million Chinese in America, and a high density of extremely talented ones. It doesn’t change the reality that the proportion making it to the top is quite small relative to other groups.

In the meantime, those Chinese in America will continue to go on with their integrate into America, study hard, work hard, play fair mentality that is obviously very limited in what it can get them. They will complain and protest when the mayor suggests canceling the entrance exam at Stuyvesant upon discontent from other minorities at the hordes of Asians in those schools. It never occurs to most of them to ask, for instance, “why is this school called Stuyvesant?” Because some important Dutch guy by that name established a foothold there as early as the 17th century. It never occurs to most of them to ask the question of “why should America actually give them a fair shake?” America is a white country, and if one wants to get something in that country, chances are one has to bring something in return to those who already control it. Or you take over the place, by force. Winning politically is not fundamentally about getting the right answers, it’s about obtaining power, and as for how that’s done, it’s often NOT by playing fair. America was not founded on playing fair. It was founded on white supremacy and dispossession. Or if you judge by ability to win at group/racial conflict, to control resources, then it was a “fair” game. In any case, “fair” is about as subjective as good or evil.

People like Yukong Zhao indignant at the discrimination against their children in elite school admissions in America ought to be aware of and reflect more on examples similar to the one presented above. The reward for elite school admission for a Chinese-American male is likely merely the opportunity to be another high paid coolie for a US company, for some white or Indian or Jewish boss. Of course, many if not most elite school grads in China who stay in China also end up merely being a highly compensated workhorse, though the chance of going well beyond that would be higher, not to mention that in China one would regardless have social belonging as part of a nation instead of being perceived in a more negative light and rejected by default for reason of race.

Alas, you cannot stop hordes of Asians in America from pursuing their coolie dream.

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