“Liberal” American institutions–whether it is schools, fashion, Hollywood, business, etc–love to brag about how “diverse” they are. And we, too, celebrate diversity. After all, being exposed to a variety of perspectives, worldviews, and experiences, is probably net good compared to being stuck in a bubble of regurgitated ideas.Continue reading “Representation, not Diversity”
As an extension to the debate around affirmative action and one of my latest posts, a key issue to address is how college admissions choose their minority students. Studies show that some admissions officers cherry pick how diversity is represented in their post-secondary institution. The main conclusion drawn is that admissions officers are more responsive and favor persons of color who are “deracialized and racially apolitical than they are to those who evince a commitment to antiracism and racial justice,” especially in favor of individuals interested in STEM.
While some would argue that favoring STEM is not a practice that is specific to students of color, that does not excuse admissions officers from dictating who is the right type of minority student.
Berkeley, California: a historically-known site of leftist thought and youth political engagement.
Yet now, during the information era, as a prestigious university just one hour north of Silicon Valley, revolutionary socialists are replaced by computer science geeks and prospective molecular biology majors. Artificial intelligence prototypes “run” on the streets, as if a glimpse into the dystopia of the future.
Nevertheless, as I roam around the UC Berkeley campus, I still catch traces of radical thought –
If you’re an avid user of social media, you’ve probably seen this tweet pop around:
Yet again, another post of a non-POC wearing ethnically significant clothing. However, while most would agree an action like non-black folk wearing dreads is not acceptable, this issue witnesses a split in Asian-Americans. There is both a large support for Keziah’s actions as cultural appreciation, but also fervent opposition that deems the dress as cultural appropriation.
In a nation with several significant minority populations, you would expect these marginalized groups to support each other and unite for their rights. However, America has long witnessed minority groups pitted against each other, division within the same demographic, and ethnic separation that take supreme court rulings to break apart.
A teacher of mine this year once said that each generation battles different social issues, and the prime issues that “Generation Z” faces are immigration policy, and equality for black folks. “Don’t worry,” he immediately addressed our largely-Asian class when he finished. “The day for Asian-American representation will eventually come.”
While I have no doubts that the two issues mentioned above are the most attention-worthy in the status quo, I (as someone very interested in Asian-American identity theory) did quite some thinking about how the model minority myth perpetuates these two issues. It was actually one day when an Asian-American friend of mine approached me and asked “what exactly is so bad about the model minority stereotype?” and I ranted for twenty minutes, that I realized how many underlying dangers the myth perpetrates.
Unless you’re living on a rock, or perhaps that rock is the burden of midterm exams (which is a more minor reason why I didn’t attend), you probably know what happened a few weekends ago.
I saw the several posts on Instagram, and I’m sure you did too — high school teenagers carrying signs that say “GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN–DAMENTAL RIGHTS“dressed in all pink with an intense expression plastered on their face. Or perhaps…I am describing you?
And isn’t it odd, as a social justice advocate, that I did not attend the march?
Here’s the caustic truth: it absolutely is not.
The first time I truly stopped to search “Asian-American” on Google Images was for a project in freshman year. We had to create a memoir, and I chose to draw a self-portrait, but ran out of ideas how to portray my “Asian-Americaness.” What I found was typical – the picture-perfect family, a few pictures of the legendary show Fresh Off the Boat, countless students with graduation caps and gear from prestigious universities, Whiz Kids, The Rise of Asian Americans – I know it all.