I sometimes feel that it is common opinion that the only problems Asians and Asian-Americans face are the “positive” stereotypes of intelligence and diligence – but those charges are far from the truth. While I, along with other Asians and Asian-Americans, are very conscious of the systemic racism and prejudice that operates on multiple levels, it can seem as though we are alone in our awareness.
First of all, Asians have most definitely faced injustice in the United States. Some well-known forms of oppression include abusive treatment of Asian railroad workers, bans on Asian immigration, unconstitutional detention of Japanese-Americans, hate crimes like that of Vincent Chin and rampant prostitution within predominantly Asian communities.
Still, this oppression is too often swept under the rug. It is commonly thought that injustices toward the Asian demographic are often compensated with good grades and the idea of the model minority. Prejudice targeted toward Asians is dismissed as nonexistent or trivial.
From my conversations with other Asian and Asian-American students and my personal experiences, I have also found that oppression often manifests itself in the form of micro-aggressions. Throughout my life, assumptions about my math abilities have too often been directed my way, and more than once has my outgoing personality been labeled as unconventionally social. Because I am Asian, it was truly a great feat that I was loud and voiced my opinions strongly. In addition, I have been applauded for my athleticism, which ran contrary to stereotypes since I did not just stay home and study.
I realize that I am not the first student to tackle the issues of stereotypes and oppression toward Asians and Asian-Americans. In the March 28, 2014 issue of The Phillipian, many Asian students like myself discussed their personal experiences with race in America. But, still, I too frequently hear stereotypes casually slip the tongue.
Asian-American oppression and subjugation is well and alive in the United States. But infrequently discussed are the life-threatening and violent situations that Asians and Asian-Americans also encounter every day, especially outside of the U.S. No person of any race should ever have to feel stereotyped or have his or her struggles remain belittled or ignored. To truly accept and celebrate diversity, people of all races, including Asians and Asian-Americans, should be empathized with in light of their oppression and supported in tackling these issues.