|terriko (terriko) wrote,|
@ 2010-11-29 02:18 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||academia, meritocracy, race|
I only heard about it because I happened across an asian blog... and I don't normally read those, being not particularly strongly identified as asian. But I think it's worth sharing some quotes so you can get up to speed on this dubious piece of journalism and stereotypes:
Although university administrators here are loath to discuss the issue, students talk about it all the time. "Too Asian" is not about racism, say students like Alexandra: many white students simply believe that competing with Asians - both Asian Canadians and international students - requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they're not willing to make. They complain that they can't compete for spots in the best schools and can't party as much as they'd like (too bad for them, most will say). Asian kids, meanwhile, say they are resented for taking the spots of white kids. "At graduation a Canadian - i.e. 'white' - mother told me that I'm the reason her son didn't get a space in university and that all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots," says Frankie Mao, a 22-year-old arts student at the University of British Columbia. "I knew it was wrong, being generalized in this category," says Mao, "but f–k, I worked hard for it."
You can see the original article and some commentary here.
The commentary includes a succinct description of one big problem stereotype:
It's an interesting read, though I find myself completely annoyed by the part that makes Asian students sound like joyless, socially-isolated, singularly-focused drones under the command of overbearing immigrant parents. Not to say that there aren't Asian students like this, but there's definitely an underlying current of fear and concern in this ridiculous too-many-Asians anxiety.
Just how many Asians are "too many" Asians? It always seems like when you've got a lot of Asians gathered in one place, somebody finds this disruptive to their existence
Macleans made an apology... sort of. You can read commentary on their non-apology here.
For those concerned that the article was based on actual Canadian policy, one should note this:
The Macleans suggestion that there are private whispers or discussions of adopting race-based admissions for Asians in Canada is not only irresponsible journalism through unsubstantiated insinuation, but an outright lie.
They raise a red herring (Canadian universities considering U.S. policy) and then use the word "perhaps" to say we should “perhaps” not consider it, but there is nothing that is being considered (or dismissed) that they themelves have not invented out of fantasy.
I love the title of this related article, "Asian, whatever that means"
And there's some great thoughts about fitting in that I think people who aren't racial minorities maybe don't have to think about so much:
The other point being the question that everyone always asks: “Is everyone in the class Asian Canadian?” And it's almost exclusively “white” people who ask me that. It seems that to a lot of “white” people, what it means to be Asian Canadian is perfectly clear. It has to do with a phenotype. Is it that easy to tell? People could be biracial. There is such thing as “passing.” What's more, because because no one stops to question the category of asian, no one stops to question the fact that not even everyone in the class is Canadian.
Because everyone is so obsessed with the phenotypical questions about what it means to be “asian”, they don't ask questions about what it means to be Canadian, about citizenship itself, or writing as a practice.
Since people constantly ask me about being asian, I actually spend a lot of time thinking about what it's like to be Canadian. And ask me about how my haircut changed how I "pass" if you want to learn some about my experience being biracial.
Here's a piece that should sound a little familiar to some of my feminist friends:
He says, “If you don't work hard, the jobs that you were going to have are going to be off-shored to China.” It's hard not to see what Maclean's is saying in the article, when it cites a parent going up to an “asian” student and saying “You stole the spot of my kid.” And the student says, “I worked hard for it.”And finally, the succinct response I liked best:
In a sense Maclean's is saying, “It's a meritocracy and you should work hard, because there's this group that works harder than you and you will lose out to these people.” It's a xenophobic angle that's pointing to a kind of a crisis: “white” folks are worried that they're resting on their laurels and being too decadent, having too much fun. And at least, this is what this tone is speaking to, perhaps a “white” anxiety-- Are we having too much fun? Are we working hard enough?
Too competitive? Psshh. You need to put down that Jager shot, pick up a book, and suck it up.