Racial profiling, mockery, and stereotypes against Asians have existed in the United States since the first immigrants arrived. Why is this issue still so overlooked?
In 2017, awareness and activism towards creating equality in society is becoming increasingly widespread. Change is happening, and that’s awesome−But it isn’t happening enough.
From my personal experience as a Chinese-American, I feel as if Asian racism is especially ignored in this country. In society, disrespecting us to our faces, blatantly stereotyping us, and mocking our facial features has almost become comical, and not enough people seem to bat an eye when it occurs.
Growing up, I have become accustomed to hearing giggles when someone tries to pronounce my last name. People have asked on numerous occasions, “Do you have strict Asian tiger parents?” without considering the stereotypes they have just said. My achievements are discredited time and time again because “you’re Asian and you’re supposed to be smart,” while I can’t even play tennis or a violin without someone making a remark that these are “typical Asian skills.” They complain that my food smells bad and that my language sounds funny, yet say that my culture is "cool" when it fits their aesthetic.
Even now, when some of my closest friends crack the occasional Asian joke (with no harmful intentions), I realize that this racism has become so tolerated because we never fight back. No one wants to be the lame, "butthurt" friend who can’t take a joke, so I often find myself laughing along or initiating the joke myself before someone else can.
From missing stories of Asian genocides in the history books to the lack of diversity in the Western entertainment industry, I know that this problem is larger than just myself and that inequality has affected Asian-Americans as a whole. I want to change that.
Before I go on, let me make it clear that I do recognize that Asians are not the only minorities to experience prejudice. Stereotypes against Muslim-Americans, especially after the September 11th attacks, remains prevalent. Too often, innocent black Americans are racially profiled by police officers. Gay marriage continues to be a controversial topic that some people are intolerant towards. Historically and in modern times, Jewish people are discriminated against for their religious beliefs.
However, powerful groups such as Black Lives Matter are tackling these issues, while informational documentaries such as The Secret Life of Muslims (which I highly recommend) are defying harmful generalizations. The annual Pride Parade in New York City serves as representation for the LGBTQ+ community, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is combating antisemitism.
This is why I have co-founded DeclarASIAN. It’s time for Asian-Americans to join the movement, as well.
Author: Claire Cao
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11/16/17- RepresentASIAN: Interview with Future Congresswoman Lindy Li
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