Ahhh. Stereotypes. Most often the deciding factor on whether you like or dislike a
Stereotypes about Chinese people are often either overly positive or downright ridiculous. One stereotype common in Western countries is that the Chinese are only good at math,science, and music. Granted, many Chinese do excel in these areas, but some do not. Two popular Young Adult book series were written by a Chinese-American, Marie Lu. Rather than pursue a career in STEM, Lu wrote fantasy novels. Another example of a Chinese individual who is world famous for non-STEM accomplishments is Zhang Yimou, a film writer, director, producer, and actor.
Back in the day, when China still had emperors, the only way to rise to power was to be smart. This meant that you had to do lots of work, take lots of tests, and sacrifice social interaction for studying, all the time.
Many stereotypes focus on diet. Chinese people eat dogs. Why do so many non-Asian Americans believe this? While it may be true that some Chinese people ate dogs back in the 1700s, it was because they had nothing else to eat. Now, there really is no point in eating dogs! Associated with the myth of eating dogs is the myth that Chinese people do not like pets. The fact? There is the same number of people (if not more) in China who own cats and dogs as in America. Last summer, out of the fifteen households I visited, thirteen had at least one pet. Chinese people love both dogs and cats the same way that other Americans do.
Associated with the stereotype that all Chinese excel at STEM is the stereotype that all Chinese are academically centered and socially backward. A reason this stereotype exists is Chinese parents’ insistence that their children will have high paying jobs only if they excel in the most challenging academic classes. Chinese parents also feel that great success is only possible if their children attend the most prestigious colleges. But, as the acceptance rate of upper-level colleges steadily declines, most parents scramble to engage their children in activities that would make them stand out to colleges. But, while most American parents add 1-3 choice activities to their kid’s schedule, Asian parents would throw 3-5 different activities that require not only moretime, but more effort and dedication than any other normal outside-of-school activity would use. The result? Lower than 100% grades and over-the-roof stress levels. In fact, I can list my own schedule for example. In just one day, I would have school, then two hours of Java class, then an hour of piano practice, then another hour of math, then I would have writing class homework, then I would have regular homework, and then another hour of exercise.
Now, I’m not trying to say that all Asian parents are relentless on their kids. They, like any other parent, only want the best for their kids, and sometimes the best for their kids means doing everything in their power to get their kid into a good college. It just seems like Asian parents are the ones that will go anywhere, and everywhere just so their kids can live a good life.
But, hard work does sometimes benefit the young ones. If you ever look at any “academic” competition pictures, you can notice the majority of the competing body is Asian. Even if you look at the student name roster, I can guarantee you that at least 78% are Asian. Take Alice Liu for example. Alice Liu is a consecutive three-time spelling bee winner in the state of Missouri. She made it to 12th her first year and 34th her second year. She again has the privilege to compete in nationals this year.
With all these stereotypes about how “all Asians are smart,” you would think that maybe there would be some pretty well-known people out there. Do you know who Pichai Sundararajan is? If you have been keeping up with the most recent news, you wouldn’t find out anything about him. But, to 98,771 people, he is the most well-known person out there. Pichai Sundararajan is the CEO of Google.
Because of Pichai Sundararajan and several other Asians holding the top executive position, this fuels the Asian academic stereotype even more. Normal Asians who have blended in with America’s society are now looked upon as “inferior” while the so-called “upper-class” is looked upon as superior.