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Stereotype of Westernized Asian Minority

I returned to Toronto from NYC and I received an invitation from an Asian Pacific Community, featuring a panel of some very notable Asian Community leaders. The group is not for profit designed to target Asian and Pacific Asians with the goal of  career and professional development, and leadership development.

The undertone is they identify Asians have a shortcoming professionally and this is a community who will offer connections and lessons to level the playing field in the Western culture. While I’m not ignorant to say this struggle exists; I disagree with the platform approach. I’ll get to that point later. But here’s the story of this group.

The backstory

Years ago I attended two of the events hosted by the group. I had spoken to some of the leadership members and requested if I would be interested in a Board Advisory role. I kindly declined as I did not agree with the existing platform, which was offering soft skill lessons to act more personable and force out the inherent meek and shy demeanour that exist in some.

My personal perspective

As a generally confident person, I can pretty much tell when someone is truly confident and when it is an act. When I was simply observing the workshop lead by Asian comedians in the second event, I could tell the members were hanging on every word from speakers. I spoke to a few of them after the event and they were elated how they needed this workshop. They felt this workshop would essentially help lead to personal or professional success. One girl mentioned how she wanted to make friends with coworkers. Two guys wanted to improve how to keep women engaged in conversation.

The problem

I understand the group’s rationale with this approach as habitually that’s how Asians predominantly succeed – take a course, study the shit out of it, then apply. I feel this is completely not the approach to take. The result of following this method is the “confidence” becomes too mechanical. The attendees wouldn’t know better because they aren’t aware of the model minority that has repressed the idea they should be confident in an area western society dictated and stereotyped to be good at.

The suggested approach

Years ago, I read a Times article written by Jack Linshi (https://twitter.com/jacklinshi) titled, The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-American and in the article contained a graph of the largest tech firms comparing tech experts vs leadership roles by ethnicities. We need to be aware of these very important statistics. This should empower us to choose a path in what we need to do and give us the conviction on how we need to present ourselves. Call me a rebel but I don’t like conformity. If I give off the rebellious energy who is outside of the box thinker and a shot caller, that’s the type of people I’ll jive with. Any other people expressing interest will have an agenda. The key is to identify that agenda and give me the confidence in how to act.

 

asian american times

Years ago… they used to think you were Fu Manchu or Charlie Chan. Then they thought you must own a laundry or restaurant. Now they think all we know how to do is sit in front of a computer.

Virginia Kee, TIMES., Asian-American Whiz Kids. Aug. 31, 1987. 

Here is another source that shines a bit more attention on how the media plays a part in perpetuating the model minority stereotypes.

Writing this is more for me than anyone else. But as a reader, I hope you take something away from this. It serves as a reminder to stay aware of how the world works right now. I can only hope readers will take something away. Regardless of your cultural ethnicity, confidence comes from within. 

Some may have strong opinions about this subject and I welcome any feedback and criticism. Just make sure you come ready if you’re going to attack me on this matter. lol. There is some truth and farce to Asian stereotypes, prejudices, and favouritism. I post this to bring the awareness to those who lack the awareness.

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Erwin Lee © 2020. All Rights Reserved.