Time and time again, Asian Americans are left out of conversations regarding diversity. It’s not as if discrimination towards Asian Americans does not exist. It does, but they tend to be overshadowed by the stereotype that all Asian Americans are well-educated and successful, which somehow leads to the conclusion that Asian Americans are not discriminated against.
One bias that I have felt most personally is the notion that Asian Americans are not really American. For example, when my family and I were waiting in the American citizen line at the customs checkpoint, a security guard informed us that this line was for American citizens only. More frequently this belief appears in conversations that start with “where are you really from?” and continue to say “no, where is your family from?”
Another stereotype is that all Asian Americans look alike. On multiple occasions I have overheard or have been asked, “Wait, are you Chinese, Korean, or Japanese?” Though it is true that Asians’ appearances vary less than those of Americans (such as different hair color or eye color), it’s often used as an excuse to say, “I can’t tell; they all look the same.” Other remarks such as, “Do you eat pigs’ feet?” or “Are there squat toilets in China?” are often made with a tone of surprise or disgust at Asian culture.
Even worse, these biases of Asian Americans are conventionalized in humorous speeches and memes. This makes it all the more difficult for our society to view biases against Asian Americans with seriousness, rather than just treating it as a joke.
These stereotypes are often followed by conversations that focus on the cultural aspect of Asian diversity in America. However, in order to include cultural awareness, this tricky topic needs to be approached in ways that doesn’t encourage cultural appropriation and fetishization. In starting the Asian-American Student Association, I hope to make these types of conversations more frequent and further discussed in an open manner. The club will allow us to acknowledge our bias and acquire a nuanced understanding of the perspective of Asian Americans. It will also emphasize awareness of Asian Americans as not only of East-Asian descent but also of other regions of the Asia continent.