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Asian ceiling?
April 22, 2011 12:22 PM   Subscribe

High-achieving Asian-American students are being shut out of top schools around the country. Is this what diversity looks like now? "'There’s a form of redlining or holding Asian-American students to higher standards than any other group.' Although Asian-Americans represent less than 5 percent of the US population (and slightly more than 5 percent in Massachusetts), they make up as much as 20 percent of students at many highly selective private research universities – the kind of schools that make it into top 50 national rankings. But, critics charge, Asian-American students would constitute an even larger share if many weren’t being filtered out during the admissions process."

'High-achieving Asian-Americans may be running into obstacles precisely because they work so hard.' 'in researching their 2009 book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal, Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and researcher Alexandria Walton Radford examined data on students applying to college in 1997 and found what looks like different standards for different racial groups. They calculated that Asian-Americans needed nearly perfect SAT scores of 1550 to have the same chance of being accepted at a top private university as whites who scored 1410 and African-Americans who got 1100. Whites were three times, Hispanics six times, and blacks more than 15 times as likely to be accepted at a US university as Asian-Americans.'

'This issue has gotten some recent attention in the United States, but much more across the border in Canada, where it stirred a national controversy in the fall when students in a Maclean’s article asked whether Canadian universities were becoming, as the headline put it, “Too Asian?” With spiraling Asian enrollments, the magazine reported, Canadian universities were becoming “so academically focused that some [non-Asian] students feel they can no longer compete or have fun.” Some white students told Maclean’s they wouldn’t choose the University of Toronto because it has so many Asians.'

The backlash from white students, can take ugly forms, as it has recently in California.
posted by VikingSword (421 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Colleges are not meritocracies anymore, if they ever were. Admission counselors are charged with filling a class with bright, interesting, diverse people.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:26 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Ivies (and I assume hyper-competitive schools like UC Berkeley) could fill an entire class with valedictorians--but they don't. Top programs will always consider diversity factors for a given incoming class...especially now that some of them are able/have to reject more than 90% of their applicants.
posted by availablelight at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Affirmative Action for whites.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Colleges are not meritocracies anymore, if they ever were. Admission counselors are charged with filling a class with bright, interesting, diverse people.

Well that certainly is a positive spin on things.
posted by LordSludge at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


What's interesting is that this is exactly what elite colleges did to Jews a hundred years ago. And Jews are still way over-represented at those colleges, but nobody cares anymore, because Jews aren't defined by their Jewishness in the same way that they were a hundred years ago.
posted by craichead at 12:30 PM on April 22, 2011 [39 favorites]


Affirmative Action for whites.

And blacks, and Hispanics, and athletes, and first nations peoples, and the disabled, and folks who don't have top board scores but are going to be one of the next great American novelists....who are the folks who don't win the numbers game and shouldn't be admitted to make room for more Asians?
posted by availablelight at 12:32 PM on April 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


this is obviously true, and just as obviously wrong.

What I'm not sure of is the alternative.

Strictly merit based? By what determination of merit? I can envision a 'merit' based system producing a university comprised of dull grinding gunners of all ethnicities. Surely that wouldn't improve things.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:33 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, there are definite parallels with Jews, as craichead points out. And regarding considering other factors for admissions, there's this from the article:

"By contrast, at California’s competitive – and race-blind – state schools, Asian-Americans are much better represented: 52 percent of the student population at the University of California at Irvine, 40 percent at Berkeley, and 37 percent at UCLA. (The ban on admissions committees considering race was upheld by a federal judge in December.)

The difference suggests that, where considering race is allowed, elite universities may be handicapping Asian-American applicants. “They just all sort of magically end up with under 20 percent Asian students,” Hsu says. One Princeton lecturer has asked if that number represents the “Asian ceiling.”"

posted by VikingSword at 12:34 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


who are the folks who don't win the numbers game and shouldn't be admitted to make room for more Asians?

The wealthy. Let them buy their way in if they think they're so great.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:34 PM on April 22, 2011


The wealthy. Let them buy their way in if they think they're so great.

*facepalm*
posted by eugenen at 12:35 PM on April 22, 2011


The wealthy. Let them buy their way in if they think they're so great.

Who do you think is paying for the scholarships for folks like us?
posted by availablelight at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's affirmative action for whites so much as it's just affirmative action, full stop.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Faint, the wealthy most certainly DO win the numbers game, they can afford the private schools with generous grading and the months of test prep with private tutors.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


This came up in the Tiger Mother thread. From the university's perspective the problem with all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same; they've been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything including career choice and absolute loyalty, they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them by ferocious pressures that would be considered child abuse in other cultures. The school needs the occasional musician who can play something other than the piano or violin, etc.
posted by localroger at 12:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Something needs to be done about this because your life is pretty much over if you don't get into your first-choice school.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:40 PM on April 22, 2011 [61 favorites]


Yes, the definition of "merit" has a lot to do with this. I fully support standardized testing - as a part of a much larger methodology. And Asians tend to excel in standardized testing, often due to a study culture that promotes that type of performance (and continues throughout life). But it's true that a college class is engineered for diversity, not just of skin color or origin, but cultural diversity, something that starts getting scarce when you start only admitting people who get perfect SATs. Perfect SATs are the result of a culture that has a place, a limited place, in an academic environment.

But considering all the other things wrong with the educational system from cradle to PhD, I think this issue is not really worth looking too closely at. The car's on fire and we're complaining about the A/C.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the university's perspective the problem with all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same;

they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them by ferocious pressures that would be considered child abuse in other cultures


A bit of stereotyping going on here. But you know, they all look the same, yellow peril.
posted by VikingSword at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2011 [27 favorites]


For goodness sake, please don't bring up the Tiger Mother thread. That was on a completely separate topic, and applying that in here is complete bullshit.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:43 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unless you believe that Asians are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent and hardworking - and you better have a shit-ton of peer reviewed evidence for that - they should occupy the same percentage of admissions as they occupy in applications. That's affirmative action - it does it's best to negate any group from putting a thumb on the scales at the expense of others.

Studying at the expense of extracurricular activities and socialization is gaming the system, and is more likely to hurt than help at the top schools - the "Tiger Mother" b.s. isn't helping, in other words.

While I won't shed any bitter tears over a white kid having to go to State instead of an Ivy because she decided to play soccer instead of cramming for extra AP classes, there's a creepy insinuation that Black and Latino applicants should be shoved aside as well, and I'm not comfortable with that at all.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Faint, the wealthy most certainly DO win the numbers game, they can afford the private schools with generous grading and the months of test prep with private tutors.

So let's ignore the rich kids' test scores altogether. They've got money; they don't need merit.

(I realize what I'm saying is preposterously stupid. I'm just dreaming of a situation in which we could actually formally discriminate against rich people just because they're rich.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the university's perspective the problem with all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same; they've been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything including career choice and absolute loyalty, they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them by ferocious pressures that would be considered child abuse in other cultures. The school needs the occasional musician who can play something other than the piano or violin, etc.

I mostly didn't read the Tiger Mother thread, but as an Asian-American I gotta say, your generalization sucks.
posted by Vibrissa at 12:45 PM on April 22, 2011 [23 favorites]


@jabberjaw, the Tiger Mother thread was brought up only because this topic was mentioned tangentially within it. Chill out.
posted by me3dia at 12:45 PM on April 22, 2011


Hsu and others allege that universities are more concerned about boosting black and Hispanic enrollment than admitting qualified Asian-Americans

Is the insinuation here that these black and Hispanic students are not "qualified?"
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them by ferocious pressures that would be considered child abuse in other cultures

A bit of stereotyping going on here. But you know, they all look the same, yellow peril.

By stereotype, do you mean statistically significant correlation?
posted by blargerz at 12:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Something needs to be done about this because your life is pretty much over if you don't get into your first-choice school.

Eh, this is sort of a weird red herring. I mean, compared to what? Having to go to Lehigh instead of Princeton obviously isn't the end of the world, but it's not trivial either. Picking and getting into college is important and hard. And it sucks to be pigeonholed in that process because of your last name. How do you expect people to react?
posted by eugenen at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is the insinuation here that these black and Hispanic students are not "qualified?"

Not sure it's even an insinuation.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My friends of Indian and Pakistani descent tell me it's much harder for them to get into medical school because South Asians are overrepresented in medical schools, so it seems like this reverse-discrimination or affirmative action or whatever you call it extends beyond college. That kinda sucks - they're some of the brightest, smartest, and most creative people I know.
posted by exhilaration at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was in a conversation about this with a bunch of people in a highly-ranked mathematics program, which in recent years went from incoming classes being nearly all Asian students, to a greater percentage of non-Asian students.

Reportedly, the director of graduate studies said that while Asian students make excellent applicants because of some cultural and educational standards they grew up with, many lack a sense of creativity which can be very valuable in developing later work. So, by late in a graduate program, the Asian students and the non-Asian are much more even.

This whole isn't about "ability," it seems to me - it's about what is measured, and how, and what is valuable, and why.
posted by entropone at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Affirmative Action for whites

That's pretty much it. I know I'd be pissed off if I were admitted based on my skin color; if I can't keep up with the competition, I don't want any special treatment because I'm in a disadvantaged class. Either I'm good enough or I'm not, full stop.

I have no problem with programs that focus on poverty or other situational factors (ie, no good schools in an area, that kind of thing), but I remain absolutely convinced that selecting people based on skin color makes skin color important. It reinforces racism, it doesn't diminish it. It's using gasoline to try to put out a fire.

If the Asians are the most qualified, then goddammit, admit the Asians. The fact that they are Asian is irrelevant. They are the qualified candidates. Everyone else is going to have to adapt. If the whites aren't keeping up, then send them to second-tier schools.

If you truly believe that skin color doesn't matter, then have the courage of your convictions, and make skin color irrelevant. Choosing anyone for a job based on their ethnic background, with some exceptions for jobs where ethnicity actually does matter (modeling, say, beauty products comes to mind, or perhaps reporting/newscasts aimed at specific cultural groups), is just racism with a genteel accent.

In this case, it's saying that whites and blacks need extra help because they're white or black, and that's just absolute bullshit. If they need extra help, it's because they were poor or came from single-parent families or had horrible schools. It's not because of their goddamn skin color. Making this kind of decision based on skin color is absolutely and always a mistake.
posted by Malor at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2011 [40 favorites]


Here's my question for all the folks who advocate cutting the numbers of Asians for the sake of more "diversity" because it's bad to have monoculture: I guess it isn't monoculture, when the majority is white. How were white students picked? That's right - using the same criteria, which now favor Asians, but now there's an outcry whereas there's none in the case of whites. How many whites get rejected on the same grounds as Asians?
posted by VikingSword at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


Please reference the study, where p<.05, that demonstrates a statistically significant correlation between Asian academic success and Asians having creativity and originality beaten out of them. Please demonstrate the metrics by which you have evaluated the lack of Asian soul.

Otherwise, can we please stop this shit? It's so fucking old, this factory-assembled cookie-cutter Asian nonsense, they all play the violin and need to impress their mothers. We're better than this.
posted by Errant at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2011 [83 favorites]


And I mean to write about "some" or "many" Asian students, in a way that doesn't mean that any and all have that experience or the vague background I hint at.
posted by entropone at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2011


Life's a bitch. I went to a NYC private school full of wealthy, very smart people, and the Ivies and others would only take a certain number each year, no matter how many qualified people there were. Admissions focuses on diversity--if you want to get into Harvard, better to be a smart kid from Alabama than the Upper West Side.
posted by oneironaut at 12:54 PM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Encouraging top grades at the expense of extracurricular activities isn't child abuse, just as encouraging a kid to play sports at the expense of grades isn't child abuse. Neither will produce a kid who's going to a top school unless they get really lucky. I know more Italian families than Asian families who have their kids cram for school, and do only one rote outside activity for application-fodder, tho. They generally wind up going to PC or RWU instead of Dartmouth, so I don't think it's an Asian-only thing by any means, but it is tied into family and local culture.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:55 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1999 I was faced with the daunting task of picking a university to attend. As everyone in my highschool was eagerly filling out applications I turned to a fellow classmate and what she has said has never left me.

I asked her: "Where are you applying and what are your chances?" To this she replied: "I'm an african american woman who comes from a single mother household. It doesn't matter where I apply, I can get in EVERYWHERE!"
posted by Fizz at 12:56 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


localroger: "This came up in the Tiger Mother thread. From the university's perspective the problem with all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same; they've been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything including career choice and absolute loyalty, they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them by ferocious pressures that would be considered child abuse in other cultures. The school needs the occasional musician who can play something other than the piano or violin, etc."

I've literally sat here dumbfounded for the last 15 minutes trying to come up with a response that isn't simply "are you fucking kidding me with this bullshit" and, failing.

There is literally half a dozen different things wrong about what you said, which is essentially: "we need to keep Asians out because they're all the same". That you can't see any of them, I... think this is another race thread I'm going to have to stay out of.
posted by danny the boy at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [40 favorites]


The article points out that the Ivies have less Asian-Americans than the UC schools.

I've taught at one of each. This is true.

But I would laugh in the faces of my intro statistics students if they pointed to this as evidence that different policies have different effects. There are more Asian- Americans in California (where most UC students come from) than in the geographical region the Ivies are drawing from.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:59 PM on April 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


How much of this is about Asian Americans, and by that I mean people who basically grew up here, and Asian students who are coming here after growing up in China or Korea, or wherever and then applying to American schools?

At least in the graduate program I'm in out in the midwest, there are lots of Asian folks, but there's only a couple of people who grew up in America. As a nerdy kid from the West coast, it's honestly kind of weird.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:59 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


but now there's an outcry whereas there's none in the case of whites. How many whites get rejected on the same grounds as Asians?

Some of our grandparents created a lasting prejudiced situation for other races so it's okay to discriminate against us.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:00 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


in some important ways they're all the same

Wow.

[4 favorites +] [!]

WOW.
posted by LordSludge at 1:00 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


The problem of the asian ceiling is that it highlights that college is neither a meritocracy nor is it actually concerned with literal diversity as much as as Ironmouth put it- "white affirmative action".

If it was actually about meritocracy, not only would there be a good number of asians, there'd also be more people of color in general. For some time, Texas had a thing going where the top 15% of kids from each high school got first shot and scholarships towards colleges- which ended up being really diverse because despite defacto segregation in schools, mean the that everyone at the top levels of their schools got ahead. (Naturally, this sort of meritocracy left things... too brown and they cut that a couple of years back).

If it were about diversity, even then, the primary issue would be about getting more people of color in (California is many things, but it is not all white, that's for sure). Mind you, the racist assumption that has been going on for decades now is that unqualified students of color are "taking" white students' spots at college (note the similarity to "taking our country back" logic there).

Whether we're talking about "fair shot" meaning by raw school stats or by ethnic grouping, the asian ceiling highlights the fact that neither one is in operation.

In other words, bust your ass, assimilate, work as hard as you can and no, the American Dream isn't available to you if there's "too many of you". The kids who suffer more racism are sadly proven right in the fact that hard work doesn't always pay off, and especially if you're not the right color.
posted by yeloson at 1:00 PM on April 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


I asked her: "Where are you applying and what are your chances?" To this she replied: "I'm an african american woman who comes from a single mother household. It doesn't matter where I apply, I can get in EVERYWHERE!"


So not sure why that would leave such a great impression of you, obviously she is taking advantage of affirmative action, perhaps her only problem was telling you this. Because see, even with the attitude she exhibited in the vast majority of colleges blacks are usually less than 10% of the school population.....so why would you be impressed? Obviously the numbers say that even though SHE had that attitude for the majority of African Americans the process does not work nearly as well as it does for other minority groups...
posted by The1andonly at 1:01 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is unconscionable. Have we so quickly forgotten Martin Luther King's dream of a racially diverse plutocracy?
posted by AlsoMike at 1:01 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


I can't favorite Errant's comment enough times. Hard work, academic acheivement and creativity do not constitute a zero sum game. So please stop assuming that if someone is driven and high achieving they must automatically be automatons.
posted by synapse at 1:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Please reference the study, where p.05, that demonstrates a statistically significant correlation between Asian academic success and Asians having creativity and originality beaten out of them.

Just because such a study doesn't exist mean it's not a hypothesis worthy of discussion and consideration, considering the wealth of anecdotal evidence. I'm not sure its reasonable to automatically discount the experiences and folk wisdom of the crowd on this.
posted by blargerz at 1:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I asked her: "Where are you applying and what are your chances?" To this she replied: "I'm an african american woman who comes from a single mother household. It doesn't matter where I apply, I can get in EVERYWHERE!"


So not sure why that would leave such a great impression of you, obviously she is taking advantage of affirmative action, perhaps her only problem was telling you this. Because see, even with the attitude she exhibited in the vast majority of colleges blacks are usually less than 10% of the school population.....so why would you be impressed? Obviously the numbers say that even though SHE had that attitude for the majority of African Americans the process does not work nearly as well as it does for other minority groups...


It left an impression because I felt insulted. I'm of Asian-Indian heritage. I worked hard and studied hard all through my high-school education. And she flaunts her advantage in my face in such a way, it upset met. I know that the university system of applications and acceptance is not easy or simple, so many things to consider: cultural diversity, academic diversity, business, perception and prestige, scholarships, financing, sports, etc.

Maybe there is no simple solution for who should get in and who should not. But to slap my face in such a way (so to speak) it left an impression and soured me.
posted by Fizz at 1:04 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The fact is that there are way more qualified applicants than there are slots available at the ultra competitive schools. It seems like the absolute fairest method would be to take the entire pool of applicants that meet the baseline qualifications, and admit a random selection of them.

And do you know who would be happy about that methodology?

Absolutely nobody.
posted by COD at 1:06 PM on April 22, 2011 [18 favorites]


I hope people aren't forgetting here that the Ivies aren't always what they're cracked up to be. I grew up next to Harvard University and constantly heard complaints about professors who knew how to represent Harvard, but not how to teach.
posted by Melismata at 1:07 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me tell you about the high school I went to in NYC. Admission is test-based, and as far as I know, race-blind. When I attended 15 years ago it was 50% Asian. Today it is about 75% Asian. This is in a school system that is today 40 percent Hispanic, 31 percent black, 15 percent white and 14 percent Asian.

Get the picture? Now replace Asian with Jewish, and you've pretty much got the same story, 50 or 60 years ago. Including the same racist hand wringing.
posted by danny the boy at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


The fact is that there are way more qualified applicants than there are slots available at the ultra competitive schools. It seems like the absolute fairest method would be to take the entire pool of applicants that meet the baseline qualifications, and admit a random selection of them.


I like this plan so much.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure its reasonable to automatically discount the experiences and folk wisdom of the crowd on this.

Yeah, because when it comes to issues of race and discrimination, you can never go wrong with the "folk wisdom of the crowd." I can't think of a single time that's ended badly.
posted by decagon at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2011 [40 favorites]


The value of the ivies is mostly about networking and prestige, Melismata. You can get amazing job opportunities out of the deal.
posted by callmejay at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2011


If it was actually about meritocracy, not only would there be a good number of asians, there'd also be more people of color in general. For some time, Texas had a thing going where the top 15% of kids from each high school got first shot and scholarships towards colleges- which ended up being really diverse because despite defacto segregation in schools, mean the that everyone at the top levels of their schools got ahead. (Naturally, this sort of meritocracy left things... too brown and they cut that a couple of years back).

I like that 15% plan, but that is not the only way to run a meritocracy. The idea that there is this one concrete thing called "merit" that we can reliably, objectively measure is just plain not true. You could just as easily craft a merit-based system that disproportionately favored wealthy people (e.g. an entrance exam filled with questions on the sort of cultural capital that upper-middle class people from the mainstream would be familiar with).

But I would laugh in the faces of my intro statistics students if they pointed to this as evidence that different policies have different effects. There are more Asian- Americans in California (where most UC students come from) than in the geographical region the Ivies are drawing from.

Right. There was also the apples to oranges comparison in acceptance rates at Ivies to enrollment rates at UCs. This is especially strange since the better UCs are just as good as any Ivy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2011


Maybe there is no simple solution for who should get in and who should not. But to slap my face in such a way (so to speak) it left an impression and soured me.

Good as long as you have a problem with HER, otherwise, as a minority myself who is usually the ONLY person of my racial group in graduate school, I wish others would take her stance.
posted by The1andonly at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2011


Just because such a study doesn't exist mean it's not a hypothesis worthy of discussion and consideration, considering the wealth of anecdotal evidence. I'm not sure its reasonable to automatically discount the experiences and folk wisdom of the crowd on this.

You claimed a statistically significant correlation. I want you to show it to me. If you don't have one, don't dress up your anecdotally-informed prejudice with the trappings of scientific language.
posted by Errant at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2011 [20 favorites]


I'm not sure its reasonable to automatically discount the experiences and folk wisdom of the crowd on this.

I'm sure that it's not reasonable to assume that all Asians are mindless homework robots. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence for a lot of crap.

Look, I think probably most people can agree that working 27 hours a day and spending all your time on homework (or whatever the dumb stereotype is) are necessarily good qualifications to go to a really good school. But I think that saying "Oh, all Asians are the same (look at all my anecdata!) and that's why they aren't being admitted in the numbers you would expect" is not at all helpful.
posted by Vibrissa at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm amazed that this degree of blatant racism being exhibited here - I can't think of many other groups that anybody would think it's acceptable to break out such vicious stereotypes about.

I went to one of the most selective public high schools in the US, and yeah, there were way more Asian-Americans than in the population of its catchment area. Yeah, some of them were driven extremely hard by the high expectations of their parents. Some of them were stoners or drunks who happened to also be naturally brilliant enough that they could get away with blowing off class. Some of them played violin, others were metal-heads or techno DJs. None of them, even the ones with super-strict parents, struck me as having the "creativity and originality [...] beaten out of them" - if anything, the trend I noticed among the friends I kept up with who had parents like that was that once they got out of high school they tended to throw off their parents completely and go try their hands at something completely outside the ivory tower. On the other hand, a couple of the stoners have PhDs now.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [44 favorites]


So please stop assuming that if someone is driven and high achieving they must automatically be automatons.

Exactly. You never hear this applied to driven and high achieving white people.
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [35 favorites]


And she flaunts her advantage in my face in such a way, it upset met.

Umm. Whoa. I knoiw there are some obstacles to being an Asian in this country, but you really need to look into what it's like for black women.

This thread is now nuts. I'm out, kids.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [18 favorites]


Oh Jesus. There are more Asians in California, and, at least when I was applying to schools, the UCs cared about your grades and ... your grades. If I recall correctly, the essay was even optional.

The Ivies, one of which I attended (because I am smart and went to a tiny but well-regarded high school and not because I am the brown daughter of a single mom, fuck-you-very-much), carefully craft their classes for balance: geographic, intended major, extracurricular, etc. They aren't comparable.
posted by dame at 1:12 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dilbert Creator Defends Gwyneth Paltrow From Privileged Black Woman.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


You claimed a statistically significant correlation. I want you to show it to me. If you don't have one, don't dress up your anecdotally-informed prejudice with the trappings of scientific language.

You are right, I can't prove a statistically significant correlation -- just like you can't prove that someone you don't know is stereotyping! That is the point! People are so eager to find persecution wherever they turn, and reflexively defend their special snowflake status, it boggles my mind.
posted by blargerz at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2011


Umm. Whoa. I knoiw there are some obstacles to being an Asian in this country, but you really need to look into what it's like for black women.

She may have legitimately had some genuine obstacles being an african american woman in the last 90s applying to a university. But that doesn't mean she should throw on an arrogant attitude as if she deserves to get into university. I don't because I happen to have more privilege, what kind of standard does that set. Also, I agree, this thread is nuts. I'm out.
posted by Fizz at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2011


Just because such a study doesn't exist mean it's not a hypothesis worthy of discussion and consideration, considering the wealth of anecdotal evidence. I'm not sure its reasonable to automatically discount the experiences and folk wisdom of the crowd on this.

Wha?!

Circa 1851: "Just because such a study of all slaves being intellectually inferior doesn't exist doesn't mean it's not a hypothesis worthy of discussion and consideration, considering the wealth of anecdotal evidence. . ."

Circa 1891: "Just because such a study of women lacking the clearheaded logical mindset needed to vote doesn't exist doesn't mean it's not a hypothesis worthy of. . ."

Circa 1931: "Just because such a study of the mercenary and avaricious nature of the Jewish people doesn't exist doesn't mean it's not a. . ."

Circa 1971: "Just because such a study of the inherent moral degeneracy of homosexuals doesn't exist. . ."

Etc.
posted by Ndwright at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2011 [28 favorites]


Want your daughter to get into very good school? let her learn oboe.
There are students getting into good schools because of "special" extras--sports etc that a school looks for and needs.

There are also many students getting into good school because of heritage--parents had gone there. This is often denied by the schools but it is in operation. Why? Because at an elite school
after you have gone you will probably make lots of money so when your kid wants to go you will feel a strong desire to give back to the school that helped you and now might also helped your child. How else explain George W. Bush going to Yale?

Asians usually get in on the basis of grades. But then schools sometimes worry about diversity. But then, that so, they use that excuse also to bring in 20 percent or more from out of state (folr higher tuition) and sure, your state school in New England needs to have kids from S. Dakota because the net and tv and globalization etc not like the real thing: having the kid actually on your campus so you can see what he is like.
posted by Postroad at 1:16 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a data point (ok, an anecdote, but an interesting one), my white female friend talked to me about Asian students when she was applying to get into a PhD program in physics. She studied hard for her GREs and did well and got into a good program. She told me that if she'd been applying from Asia (not Asian American, but Asian), she would have needed a perfect score to get in. So yes, this institutional attitude does go on up into the graduate ranks.

And as to the statement that Asian Americans do not have the creativity necessary for these schools, I propose an experiment, one which I, by dint of not being at an academic institution and honestly, not having the time or energy for, will not do. Take a look at all the last names in the prominent journals in the hard sciences, mathematics, engineering and computer science. See how many of the names are Asian. A bit of creativity is needed to write a paper and do research. See how this checks proportionally to the number of Asians in academia. I would bet you two things would be the case: 1.) the proportions would not be terribly different 2.) people with Asian last names would be more prevalent in these academic fields than the proportion of Asian Americans in the US. (Although the last one could easily be ascribed to importing professors from various Asian countries to the US.)
posted by Hactar at 1:17 PM on April 22, 2011


Circa 1851: "Just because such a study of all slaves being intellectually inferior doesn't exist doesn't mean it's not a hypothesis worthy of discussion and consideration, considering the wealth of anecdotal evidence. . ."

Those topics were discussed at the time, and its clear who won the argument. What is your point? That new topics should not be discussed?
posted by blargerz at 1:17 PM on April 22, 2011


Just a data point for the discussion: Asian-Americans consist of 42% of the undergrad population at UC Berkeley. I think if you factor in graduate students they are shy of 50% – way ahead of any other race/ethnicity. If that is a portrait of racism or bias then color me surprised.
posted by quadog at 1:19 PM on April 22, 2011


strangely stunted trees: "I went to one of the most selective public high schools in the US"

Color me ignorant, but aren't public high schools required by definition to accept anyone living within a given boundary?
posted by pwnguin at 1:20 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, this explains why so many of the Internet Billionaires are Asian-American... there's the guy from Yahoo, and... uh... oh, nevermind...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2011


She told me that if she'd been applying from Asia (not Asian American, but Asian), she would have needed a perfect score to get in.

Is this a bad thing? I personally am fine with American universities being for the benefit of American citizens, as long as Americans aren't getting the shaft because of their race.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


blargerz: the premise of the topic is flawed, and the point is that we should learn from our history that entertaining such ideas is nonsense. What's next, should we discuss whether blacks are intrinsically more violent?
posted by desjardins at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


To clarify, I did not mean to imply in the post to which Danny the Boy took such umbrage, that the impression I was describing is correct. It is, however, very obviously widespread and I am very certain that it is the actual reason the universities are implementing the policy.

For myself, I do not have kids and am not trying to get into college so I have no dog in this hunt. But the stereotype, whether you think it valid or not, is the elephant in the room which fully explains the OP.
posted by localroger at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2011


If it was actually about meritocracy, not only would there be a good number of asians, there'd also be more people of color in general. For some time, Texas had a thing going where the top 15% of kids from each high school got first shot and scholarships towards colleges- which ended up being really diverse because despite defacto segregation in schools, mean the that everyone at the top levels of their schools got ahead. (Naturally, this sort of meritocracy left things... too brown and they cut that a couple of years back).

You have your facts wrong. The Top 10% Rule is still in effect at Texas public universities. Since 2009, admissions under this rule to the University of Texas have been capped because since the rule was enacted, an overwhelming percentage of each freshman class was admitted based on high school rank only, and diversity at UT decreased instead of increased. It turns out that we need to have more than one criteria for admission to create a diverse campus.

Full disclosure: I was admitted to UT under the 10% rule.
posted by donajo at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


You are right, I can't prove a statistically significant correlation -- just like you can't prove that someone you don't know is stereotyping! That is the point! People are so eager to find persecution wherever they turn, and reflexively defend their special snowflake status, it boggles my mind.

I'm pretty sure I can prove that.

From the university's perspective the problem with all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same; they've been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything including career choice and absolute loyalty, they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them by ferocious pressures that would be considered child abuse in other cultures. The school needs the occasional musician who can play something other than the piano or violin, etc.


Tell me which part of this whole fetid paragraph is not a stereotype, please. Then tell me why you think someone offended by this rank offal is "defending special snowflake status". Because we actually are the same and we don't like to admit it? Because we're so lacking in creativity we can only do whatever our parents tell us? Because we only know how to play the violin or piano? Because we have, every one of us, been subjected to child abuse that other cultures rightly demonize? Tell me which part of this hill of rotting corpses you wish to die defending.
posted by Errant at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


I am astonished that people are still honestly trying to claim that Asians aren't creative or they have the creativity broken out of them or they sell their creativity at the brain store to buy more brains or they use their cunning to trade spices and silks for an inordinate amount of gems or god knows what else.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:22 PM on April 22, 2011 [34 favorites]


:walks into thread:

Whoa, this is officially a crapsack* thread. I have too many personal characteristics that would make all of the *ist anecdata/comments personally aimed at me. So I'll leave and do some real-world work.

But I would like to nth the people saying that the current yellow-menace thread just mimics the old quotas against Jewish people in the early 20th century. Also, please give Tiger Moms and Dads more credit in chasing down the next set of college admissions trends: they'll also send their children to unusual sports camps and "character building" trips overseas or make the kids study the didgeridoo.

Also, some of us Asian menace children did not grow up with Tiger Moms and Dads but rather in poor and abusive environments. These stereotypes hurt us doubly.

*See TV Tropes
posted by ntartifex at 1:23 PM on April 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Pwnguin, it's a magnet school, entrance is by competitive application and exam, but it's publicly funded with no tuition. Applications were race-blind when I want there but I recall hearing that they've since added affirmative action criteria.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2011


Color me ignorant, but aren't public high schools required by definition to accept anyone living within a given boundary?

No, definitely not in NYC.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2011


The article is pretty silly, though this thread is more serious. Obviously the admissions procedures at highly selective private universities like Harvard and MIT are going to be different from those at highly selective public universities like Berkeley and UCLA. Big public universities have to use more strictly quantitative measures. But there is no meaningful difference between 1500 and 1600 on the SATs. Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc. aren't very interested in SAT scores and GPAs because everyone they accept, and an even greater number that they reject, are so strong by those measures that they can't be distinguished from each other. So they pay attention to other less quantitative measures such as special activities, leadership, and exceptionally strong letters from people whom they trust to be able to detect exceptional potential. Also, don't forget that the sports teams, and few other groups sometimes such as the orchestra, get a certain number of admissions of applicants with much lower, though still very good, quantitative measures. THIS IS NOT TO SAY that there isn't invidious discrimination against Asian-American students! But it has its effect earlier, when the white kids are elected student body president, and impress the principal and the university's interviewer, and so on. And then legacy admissions work to favor populations who look like the people who were attending these schools 30 years prior. So, while there almost surely is unfair stereotyping against Asian-American applicants, it's quite wrong to point to SAT scores or Berkeley vs Harvard to prove it or explain how it works.
posted by GentleReader at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2011


Essay Question:

Although Asian-Americans represent less than 5 percent of the US population (and slightly more than 5 percent in Massachusetts), they make up as much as 20 percent of students at many highly selective private research universities – the kind of schools that make it into top 50 national rankings. But, critics charge, Asian-American students would constitute an even larger share if many weren’t being filtered out during the admissions process

Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups. Are there any negative consequences to this success?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the Seth Mnookin thread:

Anti-drug user hatred: The last acceptable bigotry?
posted by docgonzo at 12:44 PM on April 22 [has favorites +] [!]


Nope.
posted by invitapriore at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Small side point. I quickly perused through the article and noticed that every source and name used was Chinese. Chinese DO NOT represent all Asians. Asian-Americans are still a very heterogeneous group. There are some represented quite well (Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese) and some severely under-represented (Cambodian and a lot of other SE Asian and some Pacific Islander's come to mind).

I think there's actually a case that can be made to break down Asian-Americans into regions or countries for the admissions process because of significant socio-economic differences between them.
posted by FJT at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


She told me that if she'd been applying from Asia (not Asian American, but Asian), she would have needed a perfect score to get in.

That seems like an importance difference. It's one thing to set standards higher for people coming from another country and another to set standards higher for Americans with a certain ethnic background.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2011


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?
posted by KokuRyu at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2011


if you want to get into Harvard, better to be a smart kid from Alabama than the Upper West Side.

Heh. Guess I won that lottery.

♫ Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee...
To thy Northern vale where floweth
Deep and blue thy Tennessee. ♬

posted by ocherdraco at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

I means he should check the "white" box on his Harvard app.
posted by JPD at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups. Are there any negative consequences to this success?

And after you've done that, do the same except with Jews, both today, and back when it was common to keep them out of all sorts of "clubs", in addition to universities, trade associations etc.
posted by VikingSword at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

Yes?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2011


Man African American women get all the breaks in American Society. Just look at Oprah!

In this case, it's saying that whites and blacks need extra help because they're white or black, and that's just absolute bullshit. If they need extra help, it's because they were poor or came from single-parent families or had horrible schools. It's not because of their goddamn skin color. Making this kind of decision based on skin color is absolutely and always a mistake.

You're close, but incorrect. In this case it's saying that American society treats you a certain way because of your skin color. That's why it is based on skin color. It's not based on the person's skin color, it's based on the responses of American society when their eyes perceive that person's skin color.
posted by cashman at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]



Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups.

Because we are AWESOME.
posted by cazoo at 1:29 PM on April 22, 2011 [20 favorites]


*See TV Tropes

And a thousand academic hopefuls miss their application deadlines after becoming mired for weeks in the world's stickiest website.

Don't think I didn't see what you did there. Mean, but clever.
posted by loquacious at 1:32 PM on April 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

Depends? My mom's side of the family is Japanese (by way of Hawaii); Dad's is mostly Danish. I always checked the "Asian/Pacific Islander" box when I filled out forms, and growing up in mostly-white rural Oregon, other people certainly thought of me and my brothers as Asian, but I could see that being less true in places with more diverse populations.
posted by Vibrissa at 1:33 PM on April 22, 2011


if you want to get into Harvard, better to be a smart kid from Alabama than the Upper West Side.

LOL!
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:33 PM on April 22, 2011


explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups.

Isn't the argument that the sort of educational success that the cohort has at the secondary level does not correlate as well into academic success at the tertiary level as it does for other cohorts? I'm not saying I agree with that, but that's what is being asserted if you believe that it is reasonable to expect a higher academic threshold for Asian admits then it is for other groups.
posted by JPD at 1:33 PM on April 22, 2011


if you want to get into Harvard, better to be a smart kid from Alabama than the Upper West Side.

I am so not moving from the Upper West Side to Alabama.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:34 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is what I tell students: If you go to an accredited college/university in the US (say, a land grant), work hard, get good grades, stay out of trouble and show some initiative, you'll be fine and perhaps better than fine. You don't need the Ivies; you need to work hard and be responsible.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

It would make him a mutt. Like most other Americans (assuming he is one). Which is why the idea of admitting people or not based on "race" is getting more and more ridiculous by the hour. People are tending not to divide themselves up into such easily defined groups anymore, so it's a system that will need to go sooner or later, and when it does, hopefully attention will begin being paid to things that matter like socioeconomics and the deplorable state of education in this country before college.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

He's whatever he decides he wants to be. This is one of those things you'll probably have little to no say.

If he wants to be Asian, American, Asian-American, White, Japanese, half-White, half-Asian, mixed, hapa, or Kermit the Frog, it's his choice.

If Tiger Woods can get away with calling himself Cablinasian, then identity is pretty much self-defined.
posted by FJT at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2011


Yeah, you can self-define if you're a millionaire without consequences. Otherwise, most of the time it's just what people see or what boxes they put in front of you to check.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


vikingsword: How many whites get rejected on the same grounds as Asians?

I did. Got turned down for med school entry three years running, despite having an MCAT in the 96th percentile and a 4.0 for all my prerequisite classes. The reason? Too many white and Indian males.

Just sayin'. It may not be as common, but it does happen. And it still sucks.
posted by kaseijin at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2011


Tell me which part of this whole fetid paragraph is not a stereotype, please. Then tell me why you think someone offended by this rank offal is "defending special snowflake status". Because we actually are the same and we don't like to admit it? Because we're so lacking in creativity we can only do whatever our parents tell us? Because we only know how to play the violin or piano? Because we have, every one of us, been subjected to child abuse that other cultures rightly demonize? Tell me which part of this hill of rotting corpses you wish to die defending.

If that poster is wrong, it is better to presume ignorance and correct the poster with an intelligent counterpoint, rather than presume bad intent and prejudice, and morally denigrate them, absent further evidence about their character.
posted by blargerz at 1:41 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those topics were discussed at the time, and its clear who won the argument. What is your point? That new topics should not be discussed?

His point is that you're not bringing up a new topic. You're asserting there's truth in stereotypes, which is a pretty worn subject across history and the internets.
posted by mnemonic at 1:41 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The reason? Too many white and Indian males.

Ooh, elaborate on how you found out that was the reason.
posted by cashman at 1:42 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the docs on the admissions board for my first choice school was a family friend.
posted by kaseijin at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2011


I was all ready to enter with a rejoinder about how some rich kids have ability and get full rides based on that, and then I realized:

Metafilter doesn't do college well.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


His point is that you're not bringing up a new topic. You're asserting there's truth in stereotypes, which is a pretty worn subject across history and the internets.

Are you saying all stereotypes are the same? Dude, you are stereotyping stereotypes!
posted by blargerz at 1:47 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

Seems like that would depend on whether either one of you is American, or if he was born in America.

... and then I think he could decide to be whatever he wants, regardless.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:47 PM on April 22, 2011


... and then I think he could decide to be whatever he wants, regardless.

THEY TOLD ME I COULD BE ANYTHING
SO I BECAME A GOD
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Are you saying all stereotypes are the same?

All racial stereotypes are the same in that they are all harmful. Like the ones you posted.
posted by VikingSword at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you can self-define if you're a millionaire without consequences. Otherwise, most of the time it's just what people see or what boxes they put in front of you to check.

You're wrong MCMikeNamara:

[ ] Yes, I am.

[ ] FJT is right.
posted by FJT at 1:50 PM on April 22, 2011


Just sayin'. It may not be as common, but it does happen. And it still sucks.

Yeah, but there is a small possibility your great-great grandfather may have owned a slave, so therefore it is okay to revisit this discrimination based on your race. Unlike, with Asians, admitting other races over whites when their qualifications are otherwise the same is not "invidious discrimination." As we are all aware, social engineering is okay when directed at whites and males because they are all rich and have good parents.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


You don't need the Ivies; you need to work hard and be responsible.

You don't need to go to college at all, but that's not really the point. Top tier university education is one of the most valuable resources available for a human being, going to a top college opens up doors that State University just cannot access. Sure, if you do great at any decent college you have a great chance a a good career. But if you do well at an Ivy you have a decent shot at a stellar career. If this resource is not being equitably distributed, it's not something to dismiss as much ado about nothing.
posted by skewed at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2011


This is what I tell students: If you go to an accredited college/university in the US (say, a land grant), work hard, get good grades, stay out of trouble and show some initiative, you'll be fine and perhaps better than fine.

Is it the 1960s where you are?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Clearly, the solution is to assign every inner-city Black/Latino youth an Asian parent.
posted by Eideteker at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


The only argument in favor of judging applicants by their ethnicity is that white people have non-merit-based privileges that other ethnicities lack. There is no justification for a system that privileges white candidates over other ethnicities, even if those ethnicities make up the bulk of quality applicants.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2011


Um do asians write good personal statements?

Let's say e.g. Harvard went to purely numbers-based admissions. In such a circumstance I think I've seen numbers cited saying Jews/Asians would then compose like 80-90% of the entire student body. Is that an awkward situation or not? I honestly dont know. What about for public schools?
posted by norabarnacl3 at 1:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


The same issue is being grappled with in New York City's specialized public high schools, admission to which is based solely on the scores of a standardized test administered citywide in the fall. Of the 937 students offered admission to the most competitive school, Stuyvesant, for 2011, 569 (61%) were Asian, compared to 12 black and 13 Hispanic kids. This in a city whose public school student body is 70% black or hispanic.
posted by stargell at 1:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no way to address ethnic diversity without taking ethnicity into account.
posted by Xoebe at 1:55 PM on April 22, 2011


There is no way to address ethnic diversity without taking ethnicity into account.

Care to elaborate on this point?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:57 PM on April 22, 2011


Perfect SATs are the result of a culture that has a place, a limited place, in an academic environment.

I know plenty of non-Asians who got perfect SATs (especially after the mid-90's change to the SATs which basically inflated scores up). It's hardly limited to a particular culture.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:57 PM on April 22, 2011


Well, if I can get the fat to hatin' the lean
That'd tickle me more than anything I've seen,
Then get the colors to fightin' one another,
And friend against friend, and brother... and sister against brother,
That'll be just it.
Everybody's brains a-boilin' in turpentine,
And their teeth fallin' out all up and down the streets,
That'll just suit me fine.
-- Woody Guthrie, "Mean Talking Blues"
posted by benzenedream at 1:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sure, if you do great at any decent college you have a great chance a a good career. But if you do well at an Ivy you have a decent shot at a stellar career.

Spoken like a true Ive League (or Stanford) graduate! I actually have what I consider "a stellar career," and went to a mid-tier state college where I did nothing but get high all day. Look at the biographies of the members of the boards of directors of Fortune 500 companies. I think you'll be surprised how many times the millionaires club is full of people from Rutgers and Seton Hall. It really doesn't take much more work. You can network from any decent school. Sure not some crap-town community college, but most anywhere else. Ivy Leagues just tend to come in being high achievers, so many of them go out the same way. I don't think an Ivy League Education has as much to do with success as people think. But that's just my anecdotal experience.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it is important to remember that affirmative action for some groups is well-warranted. For schools that admit a significant number of legacy students, without affirmative action admissions would be quite discriminatory against an applicant who's grandfather couldn't have gotten into a school because they didn't accept African-Americans then.

I think it is also reasonable to accept students from different areas and educational backgrounds. An applicant from public school in Alabama or wherever may actually do better in college than a student from a New England prep-school, even if they had slightly lower test scores. It would be unfair if a supposed meritocracy ignored the educational resources available to the applicants.

The discrimination against Asians, however, is truly unfortunate and seems clearly intentional and unrelated to simply giving other deserving applicants a chance. I remember an interview with an admissions officer from a few years ago where they said something like, if we admitted based on merit, the whole incoming class would be Asian women who play violin, and nobody wants that. The amazing thing is that people can get away with saying stuff like this in this day and age.
posted by snofoam at 1:59 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no way to address ethnic diversity without taking ethnicity into account.
posted by Xoebe at 1:55 PM on April 22 [+] [!]


I bet basing affirmative action entirely on economic status would still help out a lot of traditionally disadvantaged minorities and let us turn a blind eye to ethnicity. I'd feel a lot better if a kid who grew up on foodstamps but got 1500 on his SATs got into Harvard over a kid the same scores who grew up upper middle class but had great-grandparents who were slaves.
posted by skewed at 2:00 PM on April 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


All racial stereotypes are the same in that they are all harmful. Like the ones you posted.

That's a mighty broad brush you are painting with there. ALL racial stereotypes are "harmful"? Please explain how the untrue stereotype that "All Chinese people like rice" is harmful.
posted by blargerz at 2:00 PM on April 22, 2011


Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups. Are there any negative consequences to this success?

I wonder... if many of the smartest Asians are coming to America to become engineers and doctors and stuff, wouldn't it make sense that their kids are pretty sharp too?

Maybe we're just stealing all the smart Asians. And since there's a fair degree of heritability for academic success...
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:01 PM on April 22, 2011


People keep pointing out that Asians now are where Jews were at some time in the past, and that at some time in the future Asians will likely be where Jews are now -- overrepresented in the elite schools, but nobody will care.

So who will be the next group to play that role? I'm kind of betting on immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


blargerz: I don't care whether you or him are actually a racist in your secret heart of hearts. First, I have no way of knowing, second, I don't care. But you are trying to tell us that a mess of stereotypes which serve to alienate and other a people have a provable foundation in statistics, implying that they should be accepted as valid truths about our world. Except they don't have that foundation, and they shouldn't be accepted as valid truths, and your argument that they're true because everyone says they are, which is exactly like correlation, is nonsense.

I assume bad intent because rather than saying, "you know, there aren't actually statistics that support my assertion, so I shouldn't have said there were," you said, "there aren't statistics, but it's still interesting to think about how these stereotypes are pretty accurate, and lots of people say so, so I was basically correct". You appear to believe that constructing a hypothesis about correlation is exactly the same as proving that correlation, and you also appear to believe that you're perfectly justified in considering seriously whether all Asians are abused automatons. That's bad intent, and that's prejudice. I'm not presuming it, you're demonstrating it. You can stop anytime you want.

Or, the tl;dr version: I couldn't give two shits about presuming the best in people parroting racist stereotypes and defending them vigorously.
posted by Errant at 2:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


white people have non-merit-based privileges that other ethnicities lack

I like how this "stereotype" or generalization or whatever you want to call it can get trotted out every fucking time in the AA debate and goes unquestioned. Most of the black kids I went to law school with were had parents who were richer than mine and many had boarding school / Ive League college pedigrees. Yet, I guarantee their LSAT's were substantially lower. I think applying "diversity" to admissions processes based on race is utterly misguided. It should be be based solely on other factors, socioeconomic class being the most important.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can network

Ah. There you go. Network. To me, that was always code. A big system of handoffs, all of which are navigable by the right sort of candidate. "Networking" always seemed like a clever way to keep resources (jobs, board positions, resources) "in the family" so to speak.
posted by cashman at 2:02 PM on April 22, 2011 [15 favorites]


Please explain how the untrue stereotype that "All Chinese people like rice" is harmful.

I guess it's harmful if you're an Asian person who doesn't like rice. And, yeah, what's harmful about assuming that certain people like any food, such as watermelon, or fried chicken?
posted by snofoam at 2:03 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

First of all, I'm pretty sure this was a rhetorical question. In response to that rhetorical question,

YES! YES! You understand how utterly superficial this all is, don't you!? What difference does it make if you are Asian-American, or if you're Caucasian? None! Your kid is both, he is either, and he is neither! He is an individual that should not be marked by ethnic differences, and if he ever is categorized, then it is only for the convenience of other people who seek to stereotype, and it is wrong.

Your boy is wonderful, and he should be able to choose his fucking destiny without the chains thrown on him by people who don't want "too many of them or more of them or better ones of them" dragging him down!

There should be no box to check off!
posted by jabberjaw at 2:04 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


It should be be based solely on other factors, socioeconomic class being the most important.

Following up, this kills two birds with one stone. Many more poor people tend to be minorities.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:05 PM on April 22, 2011


I guess it's harmful if you're an Asian person who doesn't like rice. And, yeah, what's harmful about assuming that certain people like any food, such as watermelon, or fried chicken?

Or pasta? Or rice and beans? Or lox and bagels?

(These are all foods I like; my mother's Italian-American and my father's a Cuban Jew. And yeah, I know bagels were not brought to this country by my people but rather by Eastern European Jews. Screw you.)
posted by madcaptenor at 2:06 PM on April 22, 2011


Well, this explains why so many of the Internet Billionaires are Asian-American... there's the guy from Yahoo, and... uh... oh, nevermind...

There are several on this list. Less than 50%, sure.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:06 PM on April 22, 2011


Please explain how the untrue stereotype that "All Chinese people like rice" is harmful.

Oh? How about my own grandfather? This is what he told me, when I was about 5, in the course of a "yellow peril" tale of how the world would one day be overwhelmed by the Chinese: "you just give them a bowl of rice and they'll march all day". Fuck that shit. It's othering a whole racial or national group. How long do you want to play this game? You're digging and digging that hole of yours, ever deeper. Soon you'll come out the other side - maybe in China. You can have some rice.
posted by VikingSword at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Please explain how the untrue stereotype that "All Chinese people like rice" is harmful.

Because stupid things are inherently harmful, and that statement is stupid (and untrue).
posted by rtha at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


King of the Hill addressed this issue in 2004.
posted by domnit at 2:08 PM on April 22, 2011


I wanted to separate my pithy but useless comment from this one. The unsaid issues are complex. Of what value is diversity? How much diversity is good? Can the value of diversity be balanced with the value of pure merit? What is defines merit? What defines an ethnicity?

Should levels of diversity be based on the ethnic percentages of applicants, or of the population as a whole? Which whole population? National, state, regional? What is an applicant? Should clearly unqualified applicants be included in the base percentages of ethnicities from which the subsequent ranges are derived? Does eliminating clearly unqualified applicants skew the percentages in a meaningful way? Is this bad or good?

What about international students? Should ethnicities of foreign applicants be included with non-foreign ones? What about non-minority disadvantaged students? What about diversity within the foreign applicant population? What about other subgroups within ethnic populations? Are gay Asian Americans a subgroup of Asian Americans or a subgroup of gay applicants? Does this affect the quantification of diversity?

It's Pandora's box, folks. The answers to these questions aren't absolute, either. The university that has to decide these issues really has to examine it's own role as an academic institution in order to understand how much weight to give to dealing with diversity issues.
posted by Xoebe at 2:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]



Don't think I didn't see what you did there. Mean, but clever.


Loquacious, I'm actually graduating next month, so I'll never get to unleash the nuclear option. After 12 years of struggle, I'm almost there. I broke down crying like a baby today while buying my regalia. :)
posted by ntartifex at 2:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let's review:

100 students -- 80 white, 10 asian, 5 black, 5 hispanic = DIVERSE
100 students -- 40 white, 50 asian, 5 black, 5 hispanic = NOT DIVERSE
posted by overeducated_alligator at 2:11 PM on April 22, 2011 [28 favorites]


This pisses me off so much its hard to post a coherent comment, so I'll try and keep it simple.

Asians are all individuals - they are as diverse and different from each other as any other group. Stereotypes are as useless in this discussion as they are anywhere else.

Diversity does not come from different skin tones, it comes from different individuals who happen to have whatever skin tone they have.

You can't eliminate racism by being racist. If we truly believe we're all created equal then nothing on the college application form should consider the immutable characteristics we were born with. As soon as we consider race we're buying into the idea that skin color tells us something real about an individual other than the color of their skin. You can't get lazy and try to use skin color as a proxy for a host of other things like economic background. This is fundamentally racist, it just is and there should be no place for it in this society.

I'm find with considering anything else to fill a freshman class with diverse individuals.

Lastly my (Asian) kid tells me the 4.0 she gets is because she's Asian not Bsian, so she buys into the stereotype of inherent Asian academic superiority. I'll have to give her a stern talking to on the topic.
posted by Long Way To Go at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't forget -- 100 students -- 10 white, 90 black = MOST DIVERSE
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:15 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The same issue is being grappled with in New York City's specialized public high schools

If you go to a crappy JHS they don't exactly encourage you to even take the test,. I went to a JHS that was primarily 2nd generation immigrants and there were only 20-30 people to take the test out of hundreds in my grade, primarily the kids who's parents knew the test existed and made sure the kids took it.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:16 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm of the opinion that universities should set standards by which to screen applicants and then indicate how much influence those standards individually affect the decision:

1 - academic performance (Grades, SATs): X%
2 - Academic extracurricular activities ("well-rounded education" i.e. cultural clubs, math clubs, musical skills etc.): Y%
3 - Non-academic extracurricular activities (sports, social clubs): Z%
4 - Multiplier for Disadvantaged backgrounds (STRICTLY related to school quality, parents' socio-economic level, but EXCLUDING race): W%

And let the chips fall where they may. Doing this would mean that the perfect SAT-scoring 4.0 GPA salutatorian (who might be asian) could be rejected in favor of a 3.5 GPA African American athlete from the debate team raised by a single mother in a poor-ass school district. And you know what? It might also mean the Asian is rejected in favor of a White kid with a 3.8 GPA with stellar Music skills and is the Entrepreneur Club president whose parents never got past high school and was raised in a lower-middle class distrcit. And I'm OK with that.

Diversity in areas that are entirely decoupled from one's race is a good thing and ought to be encouraged. It's not likely the Asian kid who didn't get into Harvard is going to also be rejected by Cornell or Duke.
posted by chimaera at 2:16 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Have to get the fuck out of town but let me just leave with a quote by my favorite Supreme Court (Chief) Justice:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:17 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


gagglezoomer: "I like how this "stereotype" or generalization or whatever you want to call it can get trotted out every fucking time in the AA debate and goes unquestioned. Most of the black kids I went to law school with were had parents who were richer than mine and many had boarding school / Ive League college pedigrees. Yet, I guarantee their LSAT's were substantially lower. I think applying "diversity" to admissions processes based on race is utterly misguided. It should be be based solely on other factors, socioeconomic class being the most important."

Well I'll speak for myself, but I was ignoring your comment the first time around because I was hoping someone else (with a lot of patience) would come along and give you the whole racism/invisible privilege 101 talk. But you say you're tired of these kinds of threads, which indicates to me that you don't really have an excuse not to know this stuff--because it's the same basic shit every single time. We try to have a conversation about the topic and it always gets dragged down into an explanation of the basics, c.f. every feminism thread.

But you've been around right? So I'd be wasting my breath, because you know this isn't about punishing you because there was a "slight chance your great great grandfather owned slaves". It gets addressed every single time, so you're ignoring it or you don't agree. Fine. But that means you're arguing disingenuously and I've already wasted too much of my time.

Multiply this interaction by every other day of your entire goddamn life and maybe you can understand why the attitude I've mostly got these days is one of exhausted resignation.
posted by danny the boy at 2:17 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Please explain how the untrue stereotype that "All Chinese people like rice" is harmful.

Even if it isn't bad to like rice, statements like this imply that the Chinese are some monolithic whole, rather than individuals. It's dehumanizing. This is an excellent example of how discrimination against asians has been so successful. People start by saying "All asians are smart." Who can complain about that? Being smart is good. But of course, once that is internalized, then why should asians get credit for what they do or be admitted to top schools. The individual students aren't necessarily deserving, they're just smart because they are asian. And besides, they'll be fine if they don't get into a top school, because they're so hard working!

And, of course, once we've established that all asians are smart and hard working, then we can go ahead and assume that they aren't creative. It's okay to have a couple bad stereotypes about asians, because we already have so many good ones.
posted by snofoam at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2011 [38 favorites]


You appear to believe that constructing a hypothesis about correlation is exactly the same as proving that correlation, and you also appear to believe that you're perfectly justified in considering seriously whether all Asians are abused automatons. That's bad intent, and that's prejudice. I'm not presuming it, you're demonstrating it. You can stop anytime you want.


You've seem to know a lot about my intent without asking me, and you seem very eager to justify your indignation. Here's what I believe: I believe that if a stereotype exists, it is always a worthwhile question to ask, "Why does the stereotype exist?", and subsequently, to investigate it. Perhaps it has some grounding in fact, perhaps it doesn't. Should I hypothesize that it does, I present my evidence, and if you disagree, you present yours. That is how dialogue is supposed to work. It is not conducive to dialogue to apply negative labels to others and their statements as soon as a point is raised.
posted by blargerz at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2011



Well I'll speak for myself, but I was ignoring your comment the first time around because I was hoping someone else (with a lot of patience) would come along and give you the whole racism/invisible privilege 101 talk.


We've all heard it, the point is it is a stereotype when actually applied. In general it may be true, just like it is true Asians are over-represented compared to their population, but there will be many cases on the individual level where the backpack of advantages is greater for people of other races and genders, ESPECIALLY when we are talking about college admissions.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:21 PM on April 22, 2011


Should I hypothesize that it does, I present my evidence

Yes, this is the part you haven't done yet...
posted by wildcrdj at 2:21 PM on April 22, 2011


artificial scarcity has such wonderful effects on a society, doesn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:22 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


There is no way to address ethnic diversity without taking ethnicity into account.
"Care to elaborate on this point?"
----

I think what I got from it is diversity is a factor that plays into college admissions. The question then is, is it right for colleges to handpick applicants such that the freshman class meets the college's idea of a diverse freshman class?

The problem with this is Asian-Americans from a range of ethnic backgrounds are potentially being grouped into one large category, while the same isn't being done for Caucasian-Americans. If 50% of a college's students are "white", you probably would feel that the college is fairly diverse. However, I'm sure a number of people reacted with surprise upon reading that 52% of UC-Irvine students are "asian".

I think if you're going to let ethnicity play a part in the college admission process then, at the very least, hold all ethnicities to the same standard.

This gets closer to the problem. What defines an ethnicity: What's "white"? what's "asian"? The notion of using ethnicity as a basis for diversity in college is a flawed one in an increasingly interracial society.

There is merit, however, in creating a freshman class with students from a wide range of intellectual, social, and cultural backgrounds. Colleges -should not- be allowed to reject applicants based on the idea that they're "asian". That's racism. I do think that it should be their right, however, to reject applications on the basis of similarities not rooted in ethnicity.
posted by lemuring at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


skewed, you have a very good point. The fundamental expression of ethnic imbalance can be found in the socioeconomic status of individual members of the group. African Americans have suffered greatly from historic and current disparities. Nevertheless, not all of them are suffering equally, and there are white Americans who are suffering worse than the average African American.

That's another one of those questions to take into account. And it can get more complicated. Should the child of a successful, extraordinarily wealthy African American rap artist be considered disadvantaged to some extent because of the nature of the parent's success? How much does the parent's culture of origination affect the child? Should certain cultures be considered "disadvantaged" just because they are wildly different from the "norm"? In other words, are the nouveau riche different from the old moneyed? :)

Socioeconomic status obviously connotes more than just purely economic.
posted by Xoebe at 2:24 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


what chimaera said.
posted by lemuring at 2:26 PM on April 22, 2011


Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups.

Asking why Asians in general enjoy greater academic success is asking to make racial or cultural generalizations, which makes it pretty hard to avoid "offensive cultural stereotypes" unless you are willing to go off the racial superiority deep end. Nevertheless, I'll risk my privileged white male ass and venture a guess based on anecdata as to why this is.

I have always been a bookish sort. I've been perceived as a nerd from pretty much the very start of my school life. I remember being teased about this as far back as grade 2. I spent half of grade 3 and grades 4 and 5 in a school that was almost 80% Chinese, mostly from Hong Kong and Taiwan. My best friend was from Macau. The entire time I was there, I can't remember a single instance of being bullied or teased for being a geek, except for two intolerable and unpopular white kids in my grade who would accuse me of "acting like a chink". I remember spending my lunch hours with Andre drawing isometric views of spaceships we dreamed up or crawling through interesting reference books in the library. It didn't seem strange to me at the time that my peers didn't find this contemptible.

This experience has lead me to believe that what makes East Asians on average more academically successful than students of other backgrounds is what their culture lacks: a pervasive anti-intellectualism and contempt for anyone who enjoys learning for its own sake.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:26 PM on April 22, 2011 [33 favorites]


I will now return to my original request: please demonstrate your evidence for the following assertions, which you claim have some basis in fact and may well be provable statistically:

1. In some important ways, Asians are all the same. The following ways are important.
2. All Asians have been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything, including career choice and absolute loyalty.
3. All Asians will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to do.
4. All Asians have had creativity and originality beaten out of them by child abuse.
5. All Asians play the piano and violin, and no Asian can play anything else.
6. It is reasonable to consider that these stereotypes have grounding in fact, because many people believe them.

Let's have that rich intellectual dialogue, then. Tell me why you think these things are true.
posted by Errant at 2:30 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


White people are historically privileged. Poor white people have privilege over poor black people. Rich white people have privilege over rich black people.

White people should be given a slight handicap to reduce their continued privilege. Poor people should be given a slight boost to help get themselves out of poverty. Beyond that, we shouldn't get into the business of judging non-white candidates unequally, or having quotas for individual races. And we certainly shouldn't be privileging white people to fulfil a white quota. "Ethnic Diversity" is really a misnomer: this should be about reducing white privilege and helping poor individuals.

gagglezoomer: I agree that economic factors are important. A rich black kid should not be given an easier ride than a poor white kid. But we also shouldn't pretend that without affirmative action, a poor black kid has it as easy as a poor white kid.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well I'll speak for myself, but I was ignoring your comment the first time around because I was hoping someone else (with a lot of patience) would come along and give you the whole racism/invisible privilege 101 talk.

You can't just say "privilege! now quit complaining." The system as it is set up now is makes a gross caricature of diversity and it's hard to find much evidence that it's accomplishing anything since the benefits largely go to the portion of the minority community that are already economically successful. This is even more true of graduate schools. It's perverse and rightly criticized. I teach test prep classes, my classes are mostly whites and asians, mostly from upper middle class backgrounds. The few minority students I have are also almost entirely from upper middle class backgrounds. I'll admit I get annoyed knowing that the latter will get into better schools than I was able to, even though I grew up on welfare and got my great scores without the benefit of an expensive test prep class. I bear no ill will toward my rich minority students, but to the system that rewards them and offers no boost to whites or asians who grew up poor.
posted by skewed at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


In how many fields does it really matter whether or not you went to a fancy school? 'cause I've gotten a hell of a lot more out of my CS degree from a lowly state school than many of my friends got out of their Ivy League liberal arts degree.

I mean business or law, sure, you want the connections. But in most industries, I don't really think it matters much where you went to school, except for maybe your first job out of college.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:34 PM on April 22, 2011


For goodness sake, please don't bring up the Tiger Mother thread. That was on a completely separate topic, and applying that in here is complete bullshit.

I'm not sure that's entirely true.

We're talking about two things here. The first is that Asian-American students are apparently being judged on a harsher, or at least different (maybe?) curve from students of other races.

The second is that Asian-American kids are apparently "highly qualified" for top-tier higher education WAY out of proportion to students of other races.

So is this second effect purely a racial matter? Do Asians get an automatic +2 to their INT scores? Or is it cultural, i.e. "they tend, by and large and compared to the general U.S. population, to work their asses off at school and in other activities specifically aimed at getting into the best college"?

If it's the former, we've got a different kind of thread on our hands. If it's the latter, then the "Tiger Mother" bullshit, though not fully representative of the Asian-American experience, is at least somewhat relevant.

Now, I'm sure all of us can remember tons of white kids from high school/college/grad school who were very good at getting good grades but flat-out dumb whenever you'd have a conversation with them. These kids get into good schools because they were led there by parents who understood what is necessary to succeed and pushed their kids to do so. I think we can agree, though, that this is not an exclusively white thing.

I have a ton of Asian friends, and none of them are "the same." Some of them grew up in Queens, went to Stuy High, and are just now in their early thirties getting out from under their parents' thumb. Some were born in China but grew up in the states, while some were born in the states but spent their formative years in China. My Freshman roommate was gay and out to everyone but his family, because what's accepted in NY wouldn't be accepted in a first-gen family from India. I could go on and on. Most are highly creative, and all of them show the desire to be. A few, sadly, seem to have had the creative skill "beaten out of them" from a young age, but not the drive. But I could say the same about many, many people I know from any race in America.

But there are definitely some who exhibit the same traits I've seen in those book-smart, world-dumb white kids I mentioned above. Maybe in about the same proportion, maybe not. In general I don't run in the same circles as the Asian students who choose to interact mostly with other Asian kids, for obvious reasons.

All cultural policy will come down to the question of the individual versus the group. If Asian parents are pushing their kids to excel at the things which will hopefully get them into the best school, and the kids excel at those things, are they wrong to do so? My thought would be "probably not," but I'd also want to look into what the kids from other groups have to offer, and whether it is different and valuable to society or to the university.

Basically I don't have an answer to this, but I'm pretty certain that being able to rock the socks off of a probably broken admissions system isn't "meritocracy," and I'm pretty sure that denying qualified kids based on race isn't either, and I'll leave my thousand remaining conflicted thoughts at that.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:34 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Afroblanco: in academia it matters whether or not you went to a fancy grad school. (I don't know if it matters if you went to a fancy undergrad school, except that that makes it easier to get into a fancy grad school.)
posted by madcaptenor at 2:35 PM on April 22, 2011


I guess it's harmful if you're an Asian person who doesn't like rice. And, yeah, what's harmful about assuming that certain people like any food, such as watermelon, or fried chicken? ...

Oh? How about my own grandfather? ... Fuck that shit. It's othering a whole racial or national group. ...

Because stupid things are inherently harmful, and that statement is stupid (and untrue). ...


No, you all misunderstood my question, which is HOW is the statement harmful? In other words, how can the statement "All Chinese like rice", which everyone knows is untrue, actually CAUSE HARM? E.g., if we are both outside on a sunny day, and I say to you, "It is raining", how are you adversely affected? The point is that not ALL stereotypes are NECESSARILY harmful, like the poster asserted.
posted by blargerz at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2011


No, you all misunderstood my question, which is HOW is the statement harmful?

I think that this:

It's othering a whole racial or national group.

was a pretty good response to that question.
posted by Vibrissa at 2:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


In how many fields does it really matter whether or not you went to a fancy school?

I don't think that this is relevant to the topic being discussed. In a way it implies that discrimination against asians in college admissions isn't important because they can just go to another school. Although this is true, it doesn't change the fact that there is discrimination or that it is unfair. I'm not saying that's what you said, but part of why people think this kind of discrimination is okay is because the people being discriminated against may be successful despite the discrimination.
posted by snofoam at 2:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe that if a stereotype exists, it is always a worthwhile question to ask, "Why does the stereotype exist?"

Oh well in that case...

Stereotypes are a tool used to justify discrimination. Their purpose is not to reveal some truth, but to justify treating others as inferior, less human in some way, which helps the majority/most privileged group hold onto valuable resources.

So if you're interested in exploring a particular stereotype, ask how it benefits the majority.
posted by Danila at 2:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh! I'll also add, in the interest of anecdata, that at NYU, there was a fairly large Asian-American population, as one might expect, but it was mostly (not entirely by any means) concentrated into the business, pre-med, and science majors. Given that NYU would accept people largely based on which school they were trying for (I went to Tisch, for instance, which had a much smaller Asian population) how much of this effect is perpetuated by some degree of "opt-out status."

That is to say, if the Asian-American applicants aren't going (as much) for degrees in philosophy and film and other studies as much, but the school is filling slots based upon filling the individual schools, what effect that could have on the broader numbers.

Though of course the somewhat general 20% thing is definitely troubling, and works against that hypothesis.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The value of the ivies is mostly about networking and prestige, Melismata. You can get amazing job opportunities out of the deal.

I don't know about "mostly," but I have to admit that I got my dream job thanks in no small part to one year (of failed grad school) at an Ivy that was heavily represented among management. It certainly helped to have that name on the resume—it had nothing to do with the job and and made me no more qualified for it, but it gave me a critical point of connection with several people in on the hiring decision.
posted by stargell at 2:40 PM on April 22, 2011


HOW is the statement harmful?

I already explained that.
posted by snofoam at 2:41 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


HOW is the statement harmful?

Are you thick? I've already told you - othering. You make a claim that all people of a certain race like rice - it makes it seem as if these Chinese are all the same; while "we" know that us white folks are not all robots like that, because not all white people like staples that are associated with their culture. Makes the Chinese seem monolithic in ways in which whites are not - don't you see the harm in this? The next step is immediately to think that since they're monolithic in this way, they are likely monolithic in other ways - they are not creative, over-achievers, backstabbing yellow peril. Got it? I'm done with you.
posted by VikingSword at 2:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The point is that not ALL stereotypes are NECESSARILY harmful, like the poster asserted.

Depends on what you define as "harmful," doesn't it? In any case, your statement is logically ambiguous. Not ALL stereotypes are NECESSARILY harmless, either.
posted by blucevalo at 2:47 PM on April 22, 2011


cashman's post got me thinking:
Ah. There you go. Network. To me, that was always code. A big system of handoffs, all of which are navigable by the right sort of candidate. "Networking" always seemed like a clever way to keep resources (jobs, board positions, resources) "in the family" so to speak.
I am a manager and I work in technology, and sometimes I make decisions about passing along various opportunities and resources. The fact that I sometimes alert people I know who went to UC Berkeley or Columbia University with me is never consciously about keeping those opportunities secret or scarce. It's more that these are people I already know and trust, and they're talented and ambitious and accountable. Humans naturally look to the people and institutions they already know and trust when trying to solve new problems.

It's never consciously an elitist decision. But the natural effect of many people making this easy, natural decision -- the consequence of this UI affordance -- indeed can be elitist. This is why many institutions have those open hiring policies, in which they have to post the job openings publicly for some set period of time -- (modern banns?) -- even if they already favor an internal candidate. And this is why I try to do outreach when I hear about these opportunities, so I can network with talented, accountable, ambitious people I don't already know, who haven't had the lucky breaks I've had. I am glad technology gives us better UIs for this.
posted by brainwane at 2:47 PM on April 22, 2011


I teach test prep classes, my classes are mostly whites and asians, mostly from upper middle class backgrounds. The few minority students I have are also almost entirely from upper middle class backgrounds. I'll admit I get annoyed knowing that the latter will get into better schools than I was able to, even though I grew up on welfare and got my great scores without the benefit of an expensive test prep class. I bear no ill will toward my rich minority students, but to the system that rewards them and offers no boost to whites or asians who grew up poor.

I really, really don't understand this, but I'd like to. Obviously black kids aren't benefiting too much because there are still so few of them in this position. Black people as a class are still clearly underprivileged in relation to white students and students from an Asian background. The poor whites and Asians are down here with the myriad of poor blacks and Native Americans and Latinos. So you don't get mad at the fact that your classes are overwhelmingly white and Asian, but at the few black kids who got in? The fact that there are so few (even though there are far more black kids in America than Asian kids), this tells you nothing?

I don't understand why black kids keep coming up in this thread at all. If Harvard and Yale were to become 70% Asian I think that would be interesting for once. They've been 80% white and we're not supposed to bat an eye, but now we're supposed to be worried? Whatever. Either way, it's irrelevant to the black kids, few of whom have a shot and few dare to dream of Harvard anyway. What's this topic got to do with us? The panic over the "glut" of Asian students isn't for our benefit. It's the overwhelmingly white authorities that are wringing their hands.
posted by Danila at 2:50 PM on April 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


So you don't get mad at the fact that your classes are overwhelmingly white and Asian, but at the few black kids who got in? The fact that there are so few (even though there are far more black kids in America than Asian kids), this tells you nothing?

I do note with regret how un-diverse my expensive prep classes are. But I mostly wish they were economically diverse. I'd feel great if my classes had their proper share of students from poor backgrounds but were ethnically skewed toward whatever demographic. And I specifically said I don't bear any ill will toward my students who benefit from ethnic affirmative action, so please don't suggest that I get mad at the black kids who get in.
posted by skewed at 3:00 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. In some important ways, Asians are all the same. The following ways are important.
This statement is too general to even attend to, let's move on to the meat. I believe the poster is focusing on east asians, because the below statements are most consistent with the stereotypes associated with that cultural family.

2. All Asians have been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything, including career choice and absolute loyalty.
I know 30+ asians, all of whom were raised with this attitude.

3. All Asians will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to do.
I know 30+ asians, all of whom are very given to supervision, from teachers, parents, and bosses.

4. All Asians have had creativity and originality beaten out of them by child abuse.
None of the asians I know are particularly creative, which I believe is largely due to their respect for the rails which adults have set them on. Although their parents were very strict -- the use of the term "beaten" is a transparent metaphor.

5. All Asians play the piano and violin, and no Asian can play anything else.
I think you need to be better at sensing exaggeration, because clearly some do play something else, but of all the asians I know who play instruments, ALL play violin or piano.

6. It is reasonable to consider that these stereotypes have grounding in fact, because many people believe them.
By "reasonable to consider", I mean reasonable to discuss, not blindly accept as truth.


This is my anecdotal evidence. If you were to perform a statistical analysis on my small sample size, you very well may reach the same conclusions I do -- that these stereotypes highly significantly correlate with this population. Since you imply that your sample size is bigger, I am curious what you estimate the statistical breakdowns would be for each of the above issues.
posted by blargerz at 3:02 PM on April 22, 2011


I really, really don't understand this, but I'd like to. Obviously black kids aren't benefiting too much because there are still so few of them in this position.

It is not a logical statement, but an emotional one. I hate to say it comes from a post-racial (ew, gross term) standpoint, but it really does.

The color of their skin doesn't mean anything, suddenly they're another rich kid going to a rich kid school.

I mean I think it is something that we can say that now. I doubt even 30 years ago you would have seen a black kid in a wealthy test prep and thought, "His dad is just probably a rich lawyer/doctor/banker." It is sort of like watching "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and thinking, wow a rich girl brought home a guy who has the credentials to be Yale Man of the Year? Big fucking deal.

if you want to get into Harvard, better to be a smart kid from Alabama than the Upper West Side.

This hasn't been directly addressed: but your school had so many kids going to the Ivies, they had to cap it. I doubt there's one school in Alabama or even the entire South they have to cap admissions. There's probably more than a dozen like that in the Boston-NYC megalopolis.

I would be interested in taking race out of the equation and simply looking at how many people are admitted by state or by city. I have a feeling that kid from Boringsville Suburbia is going to be much more disadvantaged then someone with the opportunities in a big city. Furthermore, I have a feeling that middle middle class is probably way under represented, regardless of race.

As someone said upthread, the only fair way to do this is cut off test scores by a certain amount and have a lottery.
posted by geoff. at 3:06 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new Asian overlords. (They are hella smart and their food is tasty.)
posted by Jacqueline at 3:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm an Asian-American who went to an unremarkable state school so I have no horse in this race. But when people speak of schools limiting admissions to Asians, what's actually happening? Is it:

1. The schools base admissions criteria on more than just grades, and as a result less Asians with good grades get in than would have been expected (because many Asian applicants happen to lack whatever other criteria are selected for), e.g. we want students who play sports, so if you don't play any sports, then you need a 1600 SAT, but if you play 2+ sports, the bar is 1400 SAT

2. The schools intentionally select for certain criteria that will end up excluding a large proportion of Asian applicants, but do not discriminate against Asians directly, e.g. we notice a large proportion of Asian applicants with high grades don't play rugby, so next year let's lower the SAT bar for rugby players and raise it for those who don't

3. The schools actively exclude people who have checked "Asian" in the ethnicity box or have an Asian-sounding name, who they would have otherwise admitted, e.g. our selection process ended up with a class of 50% Asians, so let's go through the pool of Asians and cull 50% of those to bring the numbers down.

Has anyone here been involved in admissions who can comment?

Like many other posters here I think admissions should be race-blind. It's one thing to select for objective criteria that could make the class more diverse or "fair" (e.g. select for artists, musicians, first in the family to go to college, low socioeconomic status) and another thing entirely to use race as some sort of meaningful proxy. Selecting for ethnic diversity for its own sake means you think ethnicity is meaningful in of itself; that you can infer someone's personal attributes from their ethnicity. It's the definition of racism.
posted by pravit at 3:14 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Asian" and "Black" and "White" and "Latino" are such broad, weird categories...I'm not sure who benefits when we keep the categories so sweeping, outside of making things more efficient for a giant bureaucracy.

"Diversity" to me would mean having lots different age groups, plenty of international students from several different continents, sexual orientations, religious and atheist students, and people from working class, poor, and wealthy families, and students with different artistic and technical skills and ambitions. And so forth.

I guess if I have one suggestion for people playing the problematic college admissions game, it's:

DON'T BE BORING. Specific instructions:

1. Go steal a car (this shows cunning, mechanical inclination)
2. Get caught ('cause nobody likes a freeloader)
3. Spend some time in juvenile hall/prison (people like to hear about others "paying their dues")
4. Rescue a corrections officer during prison riot. Start riot if things are slow. (Plan ahead...lots of easy ways this can go wrong)
5. Before you get released, finish your GED and study for your SATs with all that free time on your hands. Read a lot. After you don't have video games to distract you.
6. Take your SAT. Apply for college. Write out everything that happened from your carjacking with minor embellishments. Make sure you seem humble and that you've learned from your mistakes. Discuss how you and the corrections officer will forward funny emails to one another every week, now that you're the best of buds.
7. This may not get into you Harvard, but perhaps one of the lesser Ivies.

Good luck!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:19 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


blargerz: "This is my anecdotal evidence. If you were to perform a statistical analysis on my small sample size, you very well may reach the same conclusions I do -- that these stereotypes highly significantly correlate with this population."

You forgot:
7. Some of my best friends are souless Asian automatons


I mean... seriously. I don't know thirty people of any race that I could fit together so neatly as you do with all of your "Asian friends".
posted by danny the boy at 3:20 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


I know 30+ asians,

Ooh, is this an anecdata fight? Because I know a bunch of (South and East) Asians who were not raised this way!

Who wins? Do I win? I hope I win!

If you were to perform a statistical analysis on my small sample size, you very well may reach the same conclusions I do

Given the small and non-random sample size, that would be a bad conclusion to reach and a bad way to go about reaching it.

One thing you may not have considered is that one of the ways stereotypes cause harm is by making the people who repeat them and defend them look like ignorant fools.
posted by rtha at 3:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Are you thick? I've already told you - othering. ...

Even if it isn't bad to like rice, statements like this imply that the Chinese are some monolithic whole, rather than individuals. ....


The issue is the apparent implication that context is irrelevant. E.g., that one is justified in being equally offended by written statements on the internet on an intellectual forum in an intellectual thread as if people were pointing and laughing on the street, chanting "Ling Likes Lice". In this sense, you are asserting that "statements in themselves" are bad, and the intent of the speaker and the context in which they are used is irrelevant.
posted by blargerz at 3:22 PM on April 22, 2011


If you were to perform a statistical analysis on my small sample size, you very well may reach the same conclusions I do -- that these stereotypes highly significantly correlate with this population.

I'm pretty sure "30+" is very small sample size for a demographic that takes up more than 5% of our total population. Your so-called "statistical analysis" is more likely just a result of confirmation bias/racism, but what do I know?

P.S. I myself am Asian and find myself quite offended by some of what you've posted, if that helps. Not only that, I grew up in Orange County, which is, if I say so myself, overflowing with Asians, and while I have definitely met Asians who display some of the characteristics you talk about, I've met Asians that totally go against that, and I've met people of many ethnicities who match and don't match these Asian stereotypes. And I go to a mid-tier state university, so there.
posted by hempgranola at 3:24 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


The color of their skin doesn't mean anything, suddenly they're another rich kid going to a rich kid school.

Except that's not true and post-racial isn't true (I'm not saying you believe in this, just arguing with the point). White person doesn't look at the white kids and think "another privileged rich kid who will get better than I get" but sees someone with black skin and assumes that kid had extraordinary advantages. The black people get singled out which puts the lie to "post-racial".

Rich black people still have to deal with racism. Educated black people still have to deal with anti-black racism. This may be why those West Indian and African blacks who come to America highly educated and with a middle/upper class background see their grandchildren struggling just like the descendants of American slaves. They actually are not advancing with each generation in the same way other ethnic groups advanced, because America has a problem with black people. But I actually don't want to talk about black people anymore.

This hasn't been directly addressed: but your school had so many kids going to the Ivies, they had to cap it.

LOL exactly! No, a kid from Alabama doesn't have a better chance than a kid from the West Side. I guess those country kids must stand out more. Maybe because they "don't belong" so people assume they must have had some advantages. But all those advantages do is try to bring them up to an equal level.

It's one thing to select for objective criteria that could make the class more diverse or "fair" (e.g. select for artists, musicians, first in the family to go to college, low socioeconomic status) and another thing entirely to use race as some sort of meaningful proxy.

They're devious about it. The schools do not want all of those Asian kids, just like they didn't want all of those Jewish kids. So they refer to "leadership qualities" and "creativity", but define those things in such a way as to exclude as many Asians as possible. That is discrimination based on race, but they can try to claim otherwise. There isn't anything about being Asian that makes a person unable to be a leader or uncreative, so why would emphasizing those criteria make it so much harder for otherwise qualified Asian kids to get in?
posted by Danila at 3:26 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Previously: Malcolm Gladwell on Ivy League admissions and me ranting about UC Berkeley spending years insisting state law tied their hands regarding racial diversity on campus, but suddenly getting creative and figuring out a way to admit more whites and fewer Asians as whites became a decreasing minority on campus.

As for Asians being uncreative? Good grief. If you are saying this, you are a stupid ignorant bigot and should slap yourself in the face. It's true: I have a statistically significant correlation. I know over 30 people who think Asian people are uncreative, and they are stupid ignorant bigots, and should slap themselves in the face.
posted by Zed at 3:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Whoah, this thread got along. Blagerz, to address your response to my comment:

Those topics were discussed at the time, and its clear who won the argument. What is your point? That new topics should not be discussed?


In response to my statement. You are correct. All of the attitudes I brought up were actual beliefs the proponents of which believed to be supported by anecdata that later were disregarded (ignoring the fact that these arguments weren't entirely 'won' by controlled scientific studies, they were mostly won by long, protracted political struggles and in many cases, bloodshed).

The point I was trying to make is that categorically denying a subset of people some aspect of their humanity has been hugely problematic in the past, and usually turns out to be dead wrong. We can certainly make statements about categories of people, but there's a huge difference between "African-Americans have higher susceptibility to sickle-cell anemia" and "All Asians have had creativity and originality beaten out of them by child abuse."

Ignoring the absurdity of any sentence that begins with "all Asians" (all 3-4 billion of them?), you're making what, on the surface, appears to be an incredibly bigoted statement. I mean, you could have phrased it, "there seems to exist a common Asian-American parenting style that rewards rote behavior and punishes creativity. This is an upbringing that excels at meeting college admission criteria, but may not be the best fit for a university as a whole," and engaged with people from there, but that's not what you said. You phrased your opinions in such an absolute and incendiary fashion that it greatly hindered any attempt at rational discussion.

I suppose the takeaway here is that when you state things in the manner of "All (ethnic group) lack (human quality)", there's really only two possible replies: 1.) Nuh-uh! and 2.) Screw you, racist!, both of which you've encountered by now in the thread.
posted by Ndwright at 3:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


The issue is the apparent implication that context is irrelevant...

Regardless of the context, stereotypes are harmful because they are dehumanizing. I'm not sure why you think it is okay as long as it doesn't cross the line into juvenile taunting, but you're wrong. There is no context in which perpetuating a stereotype about a racial group is a positive thing.
posted by snofoam at 3:38 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are you under the impression that 30 Asians you know = sample size conforming in validity to the global Asian population? I think it's possible that you don't really understand statistics. But ok, you've demonstrated that you know 30 Asians who conform to those stereotypes. Let's find out a few things:

1. Do you know, or are you aware of, other Asians who don't conform to those stereotypes?
1a. If so, how many of those individuals are there in your sphere of perception?
1b. If not, is it possible that you only become aware of Asians who conform to those stereotypes?
2. Is it possible that your assessments of those Asians are due to their display of the characteristics to you that you expect (cf. assimilation, code-switching, passing)?
3. What is your metric for determining the creativity of the Asians you know?
4. Would the Asians you know agree with your assessments of them?
5. What is the context under which you know these Asians? Are they friends, co-workers, service employees with whom you have a relationship, something else?
posted by Errant at 3:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Danila: "It's the overwhelmingly white authorities that are wringing their hands."

What is a "white authority"?
posted by norabarnacl3 at 3:39 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm from Seattle, where Asians are basically "the other white meat," so I find it really perplexing that some people think "too many" Asians = lack of "diversity."

There's such a huge difference amongst Japanese, Koreans, Thai, Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, etc. -- and that's before we even get started on the vast regional cultural differences and sub-ethnicities within China and India (each having their own internal diversity equivalent to that of Europe, at least). Then there's the diversity of backgrounds and mindsets relating to how recently one or one's ancestors immigrated here -- there's a huge difference amongst first-, second-, and later-generation immigrants.

So how does having an incoming class of mostly Asian Americans make that class not "diverse" enough? Unless the argument is that the competitive Asian American applicants are almost all second-generation immigrants of Cantonese heritage or something very specific like that, I bet that the group Asian Americans applicants is probably genuinely more diverse than the group of European Americans applicants, especially given how well-blended the latter tends to be ethnically and culturally.

Sounds like admissions committees are assuming that because "all look same" to them, all must be same. Foolishness.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:40 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have already disclaimed the Horribly Offensive Paragraph, since I was simply describing a common attitude and linking to a good example. But having read this thread I would say there is a good reason for the specific people involved with the specific policies here to have this stereotype and act on it.

The Tiger Mothers do exist. Of course it is likely that they represent only a small minority of the entire Asian population, but as the existence of the Tiger Mother book and many of the comments that followed on it show, it is a very real phenomenon and much more common in that culture than in others (and I say that as having a Southern Baptist Tiger Father myself).

However, if you are in charge of admissions at a top university, you're not seeing the general population. You're seeing people who have the top grades and test scores. If the incidence of Asian Tiger Parents is 1% versus 0.1% for other cultures, you will see ten times as many of these kids who were in fact raised in a rigid stereotypical way.

It is not at all a comment on the general population. It's an idiosyncratic minority which is concentrated into certain situations. I would be fairly sure this is the reason for blargerz 's anecdata; he probably travels in similar circles.

I realize on second reading that I made this point poorly in the post everyone is harping on but I wasn't saying that all Asians are alike at all; it's more that if you are in college admissions and you are filtering for high scores first, you are going to see an awful lot of these aggressively stage-parented children. You'll see them of other races too; I was one of them. But you won't see as many and they won't be as consistent about the Parental Success Formula (tm).

And the reason I brought it up in the first place is that I think parents who raise their children this way should be horse whipped. I left college in my junior year and never returned and didn't speak to my parents for 17 years after the conflict between their rails and my own desire became impossible to resolve. If you are 24 years old and you're in Medical school because Mom would be so disappointed if you followed your calling to be a physicist, then there is something wrong in your life that the college admissions process can't fix. That is true whether you are Asian, White Southern Baptist, or Martian.
posted by localroger at 3:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Franklin Roosevelt, now a lawyer in New York City, noticed that Jews made up one-third of the freshman class at Harvard. He talked the problem over with Henry Morgenthau Sr., and he went to the Harvard Board of Overseers, of which he was a member. 'It was decided,' Roosevelt later explained, 'that over a period of years the number of Jews should be reduced one or two per cent a year until it was down to 15%.' It was about 1922."

Human Smoke - Nicholas Baker , p54.
posted by stratastar at 3:52 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, if you are in charge of admissions at a top university, you're not seeing the general population. You're seeing people who have the top grades and test scores. If the incidence of Asian Tiger Parents is 1% versus 0.1% for other cultures, you will see ten times as many of these kids who were in fact raised in a rigid stereotypical way.

Fantastic. Let us then allow admission officers at these universities employ their extrasensory psychic powers to identify and then root out the demon spawn of Asian Tiger Parents, for the benefit of all, especially the kids in question, because it's all for the children you see, won't somebody please think of the children ("I think parents who raise their children this way should be horse whipped").

What other pretzel positions are we going to twist ourselves into, so we can justify rank racism?
posted by VikingSword at 4:00 PM on April 22, 2011


If Tiger Woods can get away with calling himself Cablinasian, then identity is pretty much self-defined.

Tiger Woods may define himself that way, but everyone else seems to define him as "black" despite his bi-cultural heritage. Same goes for Barack Obama.

In an increasingly homogenized world, people pretty much define themselves to gain the greatest advantage in competitions such as university admission and presidential elections.
posted by fairmettle at 4:00 PM on April 22, 2011


Regarding the last link in the FPP about the UCLA Ching Chong rant, I encountered that story a while after it happened and was shocked it hadn't been posted here. I meant to, largely to highlight this wonderful reply to it. Jimmy Wong is a rock star.
posted by Zed at 4:00 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


blargerz, I am truly staggered. Here, off the top of my head, are the first 10 Asian people I know, with brief bio. I can do 20 more, shit, I could do this all day but I'm getting bored:

0. Me. I went to that 50% Asian magnet math & science high school in NYC. I played guitar, spent a lot of time on my photography hobby. For much of my adolescence, directly contradicted everything my parents asked of me. I went to art school. I am a designer.

1. B., who I went to HS with. Both his parents are divorced and remarried. His dad is what I would call an Asian redneck, shoots guns, rides motorcycles, does dangerous stuff with axes. B designs video games for a living.

2. My sister J., graduated 2nd in her HS class, went to an Ivy. She's a music therapist now. Plays pretty much every instrument, currently enamored with traditional African instruments.

3. My other sister, A. went to a small school, is now a lawyer for the city. Has screaming fights with my mom. Has begun making and selling children's clothing & accessories on the side.

4. M., my ex. Went to a 3rd tier State school, studied fashion design. Worked for a large cosmetics company until recently, now works for a well known French fashion house. Plays the Ukelele (don't hate).

5. S., went to Cal, was a sorority girl, now works for a publisher in marketing. Sells clothing that she makes on Etsy.

6. D., works in tech, and is in an indie rock band that has been the subject of a FPP here.

7. K. went to art school with me, then went onto Media Lab. Now a technologist and entrepreneur, she had her wedding on a farm with hay rides and a petting zoo.

8. S. my college roommate. Studied chemistry, but was a dancer all through school. Was a backup dancer in a bollywood movie, hung out with models, now works at a biotech firm.

9. My cousin A., he's a radiologist. He's probably the only person that fits your stereotype on this list, but only if you ignore pretty much every other detail in his life.

And that's my point here. I'm going to be charitable and assume you actually do know (of) 30 Asian people. But the way they neatly fit into that stereotype says more about you, and your relationship with them, than it does about them as people. If you give even the slightest fuck, no one reduces that neatly.

tl:dr, so hard to tell asians apart amirite?
posted by danny the boy at 4:06 PM on April 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


Wow. It's rare to see Derailing for Dummies so perfectly reproduced on Metafilter. See below. Also please note that you may feel free not to reproduce the other techniques, people arguing for racist stereotypes:

But It's True
Simply trivialise your opponents argument by pointing out to them that whatever offensive/bigoted/ignorant/stereotyped thing you said or did that targeted a Marginalised Person: "but it's true!"

This is a one-size-fits-all retort that is very effective in how it redirects any argument into a neverending circular loop. You don't have to take on any of the points the Marginalised Person may raise, nor do you have to concede offence and apologise - you can disavow all responsibility by simply repeating, over and over, to any counter-claim or attempted correction and reasoning: "but it's true!"

"But it's true! Asian people DO talk funny! But it's true! Black men are all criminals because they're arrested more often! But it's true! Women are irrational during their periods because of their hormones! But it's true! But it's true! But it's true!"

You can even go so far as to appear exasperated with the Marginalised Person for denying the 'truth' of the situation, pretending obliviousness to why anything you have said could possibly be hurtful when "it's true!".
posted by jaduncan at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, and also:

Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!
This one is fantastic to bring out if you feel at all backed into a corner. If, for example, the Marginalised Person™ is making sense and you’re beginning to get the unpleasant feeling that you were wrong about something, just whip up your friend - your black friend, or your trans friend, your friend with a mental illness, or your friend who is a sex worker, and vehemently express how they completely and stridently support your opinions on these issues.

Of course, you must make out as though you are entirely oblivious to internalised stigma and how your friends may have been adversely affected by discrimination wielded by the Privileged®. And, as established by the steps above, it is imperative that you discount the diversity of experience whilst seeming to support it. After all, your friend is proof that there are different opinions amongst this Marginalised Group™ but the fact they agree with you means you don’t have to in the least give credence to ideas alternative to your own, and certainly not from the Marginalised Person™ in question.

Plus it gives you that handy progressive veneer - see, all their accusations of racism/sexism/ableism/what have you are totally groundless because you have friends who are representatives from that group which shows how open-minded and awesomely cool you really are!

You know what the best part about this step is?

The friend doesn’t even have to exist!

That’s right, the friend can be nothing more than a figment of your imagination, conjured up to provide you with vicarious backup in your hour of need! How is the Marginalised Person™ going to prove it, after all! They can have their suspicions but that’s hardly hard evidence.
posted by jaduncan at 4:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap I don't even know whether I should wander into this thread but I'm going to try and navigate around the whole race issue entirely...

First of all, for many years it was well understood that college acceptance was heavily weighted on grade point average and test scores. The higher the better. So a lot of parents decided that if their kids were going to a good college, they needed the best grades and the best scores. A solid process for turning out a kid with good grades and good test scores is to make sure the kid is constantly studying and taking test prep classes. Mileage may vary, of course, but this was an approach that produced enough positive results that it became accepted.

Now, some cultures emphasize a family structure where parents are strict about enforcing the rules, and children are supposed to follow them. We can even leave race out of this: I lived in a military family and saw this same type of culture in other military families who were of a different race than mine. When you adhere to this culture in your household and place a priority on the kids going to college, then you follow the approach outlined above.

At some point colleges noticed that there were too many applicants who had obviously focused on the academic aspect of the application process; in some respects this could be seen as "gaming the system." The set of applicants who appeared to be focusing strictly on the academic aspects were disproportionately of asian descent, which is causing this whole racial kerfluffle. However, the problem isn't due to race, it's that a certain cultural trait that many asian families exhibited was being exploited in order to achieve a specific result.

Later on, colleges decided that they wanted more "well-rounded" individuals so they started requiring extracurricular activity. And I hypothesize that some success in the arts could be routinely achieved through discipline: namely, being able to play an instrument. Piano and violin are pretty forgiving, because you can go a long way on technique alone. So now the script is: study, test prep, and practicing an instrument.

So again: the problem is not race. It's having an acceptance policy that relies on standardized tests, and not being able to establish requirements on non-quantifiable, desirable traits. This will always be a problem, but it's only made worse if race is dragged into it.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Folks, "go fuck yourself" is not an acceptable conversational gambit here.]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:09 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


First poster got it right on the head, this ain't a land of merit based success anymore. Did you stumble into the right set of circumstances or were you blessed with the right connections? No? Then it's going to be a damn hard slog for you.

On the actual topic at hand, I can believe it. People will fit 'fairness' or some such thing in to justify a certain level (no more or less) of minority X.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:09 PM on April 22, 2011


I wonder if part of the vitriol on this thread arises from the original article itself. It seems like it pedals pretty hard on typical high achieving Asian stereotypes and draws on a few anecdotes and statistics that lump all Asian Americans into one group. It's basically perfectly crafted for everyone to project their opinions onto. There's very little investigation into why this might be happening and whether certain groups are being affected more than others (would being Samoan American be as much of a disadvantage as being Korean American?). So basically everyone can take away whatever they want.

Overall I'd say that making admission decisions based on criteria of ethnic and socio-economic diversity is always going to cause some head scratching (what criteria to use, how to classify people into groups, etc.), but not doing this can lead to worse results. To my knowledge Oxford and Cambridge claim to be strictly academic in their admission criteria. It's all test scores, essays and interviews. And as a result top colleges like Christ Church are nearly 50% students from Eton and Eton look-a-likes where they teach students how to succeed on just these criteria.
posted by nangua at 4:15 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


One other theory that I've heard (no data behind this!): Legacy / White acceptees and their parents donate more money to universities that they have relationships with than other races.
posted by stratastar at 4:16 PM on April 22, 2011


I was not aware that calling people racists for criticizing parenting was an acceptable conversational gambit here.
posted by localroger at 4:16 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


At some point colleges noticed that there were too many applicants who had obviously focused on the academic aspect of the application process; in some respects this could be seen as "gaming the system."

How is that gaming the system? If you tell me, that knowledge is most important, and you measure that knowledge by testing and assigning grades, and I then study hard to gain the knowledge and get good grades, how have I gamed the system? Am I not simply doing what is requested of me, am I not playing by the rules of the game?

Later on, colleges decided that they wanted more "well-rounded" individuals so they started requiring extracurricular activity. And I hypothesize that some success in the arts could be routinely achieved through discipline: namely, being able to play an instrument. Piano and violin are pretty forgiving, because you can go a long way on technique alone. So now the script is: study, test prep, and practicing an instrument.

Err, you are sadly mistaken about piano and violin being "pretty forgiving" - compared to what? Drums? The flute? Guitar? Anyhow, the point is that you can set up any selection criteria you wish, but don't be surprised if ambitious or hard-working or tigery or whatever individuals find a way to play by those rules, and there we are again.
posted by VikingSword at 4:16 PM on April 22, 2011


How is inappropriate (in some people's opinion) parenting fixed by discriminating against ALL members of a given ethnic group in admissions to top universities? Sounds stupid to me, as a remedy; or maybe it's not a remedy but another way to play the same old game that was played against the Jews back in the day.
posted by VikingSword at 4:21 PM on April 22, 2011


Here, off the top of my head, are the first 10 Asian people I know, with brief bio. I can do 20 more, shit, I could do this all day but I'm getting bored:

That was by far the most interesting and useful post so far, thank you. To settle it once and for all: Do you believe that east asian Americans (assuming you are American and live here) play violin and piano at a rate any higher than the non-east asian American population of similar socio-economic background? If so, how much higher? Because I am really wondering why this stereotype exists.
posted by blargerz at 4:23 PM on April 22, 2011


It would also probably be helpful not to assume that because y'all disagree on the underlying mechanism of discrimination that the other person supports that discrimination. VikingSword, I'm aiming that at you particularly at this moment in the conversation but it's a good overall principle.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


First poster got it right on the head, this ain't a land of merit based success anymore.
Are you implying that it ever was? Because if so, that would be silly.
posted by craichead at 4:26 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


VikingSword: I wouldn't personally refer to it as "gaming the system" hence the scare quotes, but I think that's what's raising peoples fur - that the applicants who focus on the academic aspect at the (perceived) expense of other criteria are doing something unfair. I actually agree with you - if the admission criteria tell me to focus on something, why should I bother focusing on anything else if admission is my only goal?

As far as instruments being "forgiving," my hypothesis follows that for those two instruments in particular, there is an established method (Suzuki) that you can adhere to and achieve a certain degree of proficiency.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:28 PM on April 22, 2011


Thanks, restless_nomad, I'm glad not to have accused anyone in this thread of being a racist themselves. I did make a statement that implied that I think there's racism - rank racism - in the admissions process that's justified by faulty logic. And I'll continue to keep in mind these distinctions!
posted by VikingSword at 4:30 PM on April 22, 2011


Take it from someone whose parents tried it: brainwashing your child into spending every waking moment working toward your goal is not just gaming the system, it is very unfair to everyone involved, starting with your child.

It's unfair to the guy who didn't get the scholarship I got because he might have finished college, not having the inevitable parental war in his future. Or he might have majored in philosophy or art instead of engineering, because he wouldn't have been driven by his parents' desire for him to make a lot of money.

If I had been Asian it would have been doubly unfair to everyone else who checked "Asian" in the race box, because for reasons like the OP it makes it even harder for your own people who are (for reasons that aren't fair or legitimate, but very humanly understandable) stereotyped by my unnaturally high performance.

And it's unfair to the people who hire me if they expect me to be a leader one day, because all I'd ever been taught how to do was follow. I have a problem asserting myself to this day, and I'm 47. Fortunately I work with people who've learned that "I really don't think this is a good idea" is Rogerspeak for "holy hell we better run from this job Roger says it'll be a disaster."

This is about a small group of people, parents, whose fetish for winning has poisoned the way they raise their children. That they exist sickens me, that they are apparently quite a bit more common in Asian circles makes me very sad for the children of those parents.

What I wish would happen is that some scientist would invent the Magic Helicopter Parent Detector and bar all children whose parents are like that from attending college at all until they have been emancipated and had no communication from their parents for at least five years. That would give them time to find themselves and disincentivize the control freak parents from making their childrens' lives hell.

But in reality no such device does or can exist. I don't think making the bar higher for kids who mark "Asian" in the race tick box is at all fair. The problem is I don't think there is a fair solution.

My solution was I never went back to college. I found a niche for myself and did OK. Given what college costs nowadays and the uncertain prospects of getting a return on that investment, I think a lot of people should consider doing what I should have done a few years earlier and go out into the real world first. You might find that after four years your apprenticeship to a plumber was worth more than for years of tuition.

P.S. Anyone who calls me a racist gets a free "go to hell, go directly to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect your soul" card. I have worked too hard to undo the prejudices my parents tried to instill in me to put up with that shit.
posted by localroger at 4:33 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a perfectly reasonable argument to be made for (some of) these policies. The easily quantified metrics, if you think mean something, only do so in a context. The GRE verbal is a pretty meaningless comparison across cultural groups because it's essentially a vocabulary test. If you think of the SAT as reflecting a correlate of whatever personal traits you're interested in, you might not want to make cross-cultural SAT comparisons; the SAT might mean less in some contexts, or might reflect something different.

She told me that if she'd been applying from Asia (not Asian American, but Asian), she would have needed a perfect score to get in.

That's a perfect example: major Chinese universities have a completely different pedagogic approach to western ones. Even aside from rampant cheating during the 90s and early 2000s, thier teaching structre makes people better at the GRE more than it makes them better at the tasks of a graduate student. I'm not saying that they have the creativity beaten out of them or some such nonsense, just that the number becomes incomparable.

I absolutely do not believe that these concerns motivate the current racist policies. I think it's about not wanting a riot over "unfair" distribution of scarce resources. Similarly "diversity" strikes me as bogus. SE Asia and the Pacific rim have abundant cultural diversity; you would probably make the ivies more diverse by having only Asians.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:35 PM on April 22, 2011


Because I am really wondering why this stereotype exists.

Seriously, it's been explained so many times now. I'll take localroger's word that he was just parroting the common stereotypes, although I don't think he phrased it particularly well and it was pretty fucking offensive.

But it's right in there: they all play piano and violin, because they're:
- too uncreative to do anything other than what their parents tell them
- drawn to instruments that require rigorous and rote memorization because they don't know how to think for themselves
- think they're so much more cultured than other people, so they play hoity-toity instruments
- think they're so much better, so they play instruments other people find difficult and love to show off how good they are

Stereotypes exist to reduce, to alienate, to other, above all to justify marginalization, prejudice, and hatred. That is their purpose. That is why they exist. This is true for all of them. They take the form of "folk wisdom" and "everyone knows that" so that they can go uninterrogated, because obviously some people do do those things, so there's some basis in fact, so repeating those stereotypes is just "telling the truth". Who could argue with that?
posted by Errant at 4:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is nuts. You all need to look at data. If I have two relatively large cohorts of the same socio-economic cohort taking the same standardized test and I see that one group is biased higher then there are three assumptions I must make - 1)the higher scoring group is inherently smarter 2)The test itself is flawed (in a different way from how I already know it doesn't correlate well with academic success in a tertiary educational environment 3)The higher scoring cohort is being coached to succeed at a greater rater than my control group. If you think its 3, then you control for that. AFAIK that's what these schools do. If you think its 2, then throw the test out totally - but that weakens the argument about Asians being discriminated against, and if you believe it is 1) I look forward to you defending yourself here.

As far as complaining about soft factors - that's been going on for decades, and its one of the things that benefits the upper middle class the most. I'd be interested in seeing what admit rates are like for upper middle class 3rd generation asians at the Ivies once you control for the issue above. I'd be quite surprised if the issue is as glaring. That's not to say this isn't wrong, but then you know they aren't getting in because of the skin, but because their backgrounds prevented them from putting together the sort of portfolio that is going to differentiate yourself against an insane pool of applicants. I mean some of the resumes I see coming through admissions processes from friends active in their schools alumni interviewing programs make me thank god I was applying to schools 15 years ago.
posted by JPD at 4:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My father (white, nominally Christian) went to a fancy name brand college and graduated in the mid-60s. I can remember him telling me about the quotas they had back then for Jews. I remember being astonished that this sort of thing had happened. He told me that the Jewish students he knew back then were the smartest guys he'd ever met - they were the best of the best, the ones who made it there in that era of quotas.

These quotas are movable fences - they move from one academically strong ethnic/racial group to another. I would really like to see a time line of these groups done for multiple countries.

When I was growing up I lived near a college which, at that time, was one of the most selective in the US. The students were known for their academic excellence and not being very interesting - they were so well rounded as to be Jacks of all trades and masters of none. They seldom went on to do anything interesting. I have no idea what criteria were used to select these students.

I don't think that the concept of racial/economic/geographic other quotas in college admissions are in any way new or unusual. Need blind admission is not the norm. Evaluating a large group of students for admission to college has to be hard: you can't base everything on grades - an A in one school is completely different than another; you can't base everything on scores from standardized tests: those are intrinsically biased as well; you can't base everything on an 18 year old's resume: those are biased for kids who have parents who can help them.

We should be astonished that Asian kids are being subjected to a quota system.

We should also consider how college admissions work - do they work? How do we determine that they worked? What criteria should they use? Is diversity something that a college should try to impose?
posted by sciencegeek at 4:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups.

Whatever else, this is a test skewed in its initial conditions. Asian American students start out in households with the highest incomes in the US (65,637). White households, in turn, have a sizable advantage (52312) over Latino (37913) and Black (34218) households. Compared with all households, Asian American students are looking at a 30+ percentile advantage; Black students at a 30+ percent handicap.

The leap from raw purchasing power to seats in the institutions of your choice requires some explanation, but (I think) little recourse to cultural stereotypes or Bell Curve neo-phrenology, or to privileges sly or sublime. Wealth is its own culture. Money is privilege in its most solid form and present tense.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


As far as instruments being "forgiving," my hypothesis follows that for those two instruments in particular, there is an established method (Suzuki) that you can adhere to and achieve a certain degree of proficiency.

For sure. Not only are asians genetically predisposed to success at following a rote system for learning an instrument, they are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to learning the more soulful instruments (bass, drums, horns) that blacks can easily master.

Seriously, though, I would guess that piano is one of the most common instruments for anyone to learn. And any children learning a bowed instrument would probably start on violin rather than a larger instrument like a cello.
posted by snofoam at 4:38 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think a single person in this thread has suggested genetic differences, am I wrong?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:40 PM on April 22, 2011


And stop comparing this to the Jews. Its a very different situation. Back then you didn't even have standardized testing and there were actual entrance exams. The process was very different, and much less soft, and therefore the racism was much harder. And access to tertiary education was much less availabe.

And the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin are still thanking the Ivies for their racism today.
posted by JPD at 4:40 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm glad not to have accused anyone in this thread of being a racist themselves. I did make a statement that implied that I think there's racism - rank racism - in the admissions process that's justified by faulty logic. And I'll continue to keep in mind these distinctions!

Fantastic. Let us then allow admission officers at these universities employ their extrasensory psychic powers to identify and then root out the demon spawn of Asian Tiger Parents, for the benefit of all, especially the kids in question, because it's all for the children you see, won't somebody please think of the children ("I think parents who raise their children this way should be horse whipped").

What other pretzel positions are we going to twist ourselves into, so we can justify rank racism?


Viking, you make it sound like localroger thinks that the kids are demon spawn, and you said he was taking a position to justify racism. You went past criticizing the system. Given his experience I think you should be a bit more careful here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:40 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm an actual Asian person who plays the piano, and got near perfect SAT's. I have also done a whole bunch of Judo, thus completing the whole stereotype trifecta, and am a graduate of some pretty fancy schools.

I've also been doing stand-up comedy for a few yeras. I write my own jokes, and people keep asking me to do shows, so I guess I'm OK at it. I figure that's pretty creative.

Oh, and while I did learn the piano, I didn't use the Suzuki method -- we went with method where a burly Russian man yells at you every week for not practicing enough.

I'm glad I could finally settle this for all of you.

Love,

CR
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:41 PM on April 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


P.S. Anyone who calls me a racist gets a free "go to hell, go directly to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect your soul" card. I have worked too hard to undo the prejudices my parents tried to instill in me to put up with that shit.

The above sounds to me, like you've licked this problem: "I have a problem asserting myself to this day, and I'm 47."

Ignoring the "who called whom what" derail, unfortunately, you have still not explained how you think the university is supposed to fix whatever parenting problems you identify. You outlined a fantasy, which you admitted is unrealistic, but if there is no solution you think is fair, well then, perhaps we should very simply admit, that the admissions system as it is today is indeed unfair - and unfair to Asians as well.
posted by VikingSword at 4:41 PM on April 22, 2011


Also anyone claiming that they weren't told soft factors mattered for college applications hasn't being paying attention for at least 30 years.
posted by JPD at 4:42 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


we went with method where a burly Russian man yells at you every week for not practicing enough.

This sounds like a handy method for learning a great many things.
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


But it's right in there: they all play piano and violin, because they're:
- too uncreative to do anything other than what their parents tell them
- drawn to instruments that require rigorous and rote memorization because they don't know how to think for themselves
- think they're so much more cultured than other people, so they play hoity-toity instruments
- think they're so much better, so they play instruments other people find difficult and love to show off how good they are


Whoa whoa, what if I think that "all asians play violin and piano", and I think that's because asians are fucking awesome? Why won't you consider that the stereotyper has a positive impression?


I don't care who someone is in their soul, I care about what they do.

In other words, you don't care about the full story, you care about how YOU feel.
posted by blargerz at 4:46 PM on April 22, 2011


And stop comparing this to the Jews. Its a very different situation.

No. No, I won't. The "there are too many of those people and we will now show the naked hypocrisy of our claims to meritocracy by figuring out a way to reduce their number" part has too much in common between the two.
posted by Zed at 4:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


snofoam: I never attributed piano/violin playing to asians in my comments, I'm still working on the premise that if if you pursue a certain goal that there are often processes you can follow. I thought the Suzuki method example was interesting because it faces a peculiarly familiar criticism: that its practitioners are only learning by rote and that they lack creativity and hey look, it's a Japanese thing.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:51 PM on April 22, 2011


The above sounds to me, like you've licked this problem

I've had 25 years to work on the problem.

you have still not explained how you think the university is supposed to fix whatever parenting problems you identify

I don't think the university can fix them. I don't think the problem has a solution. How's that for a kick in the pants? If having to pluck the knife handle with my parents' name on it out of my own back taught me one thing, it's that there are some problems you can't fix.

If they erect objective standards, the control freak parents will adjust their brainwashing techniques to adapt to them. (The bias toward piano and violin, BTW, isn't because they're easy to master; it's because they are "respectable." This is one my parents missed, they tried to teach me the accordion because it's what my Dad played LOL. Sadly, I had no aptitude for music at all.)

And all soft standards are going to seem inherently arbitrary and unfair. Actually, "seem" isn't the right word there; they will "be" arbitrary and unfair. Rejecting a student who has worked hard because of his race is a knife to the heart. And it hurts more when you know your parents stand ready to twist it.
posted by localroger at 4:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Viking, you make it sound like localroger thinks that the kids are demon spawn, and you said he was taking a position to justify racism.

Nope. I ridiculed the idea that somehow admissions officers would magically ferret out badly parented kids as if those kids were demon-spawn (race-neutral demons, natch), and I lampooned that position by drawing out what the implications would be. Never once did I reference anybody on this board as a racist in the process. Anyhow, this is a derail - if you want to somehow wrench me into a position of having accused a poster in this thread of racism, take it to memail.
posted by VikingSword at 4:51 PM on April 22, 2011


Until you find evidence that someone is saying "We need to bring the number of Asians down" as opposed to saying "we need to curve SAT scores by race" its a very very different thing. One is indefensible, the other is defensible, assuming you can prove that SAT means vary in a way you can't explain via other factors.

Unless you're saying Asians are just smarter.
posted by JPD at 4:52 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think a single person in this thread has suggested genetic differences, am I wrong?

Perhaps not, but plenty of people have generalized about asians. It's not like all asian cultures share the same values, much less all asian-americans. People seem to be generalizing about a race of people, which defined by genetic differences from other races.
posted by snofoam at 4:53 PM on April 22, 2011


So what physical, genetic characteristics would define the "Asian race" that both Japanese and Indians supposedly belong to? Because I'm not seeing the resemblance.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:55 PM on April 22, 2011


race of people, which defined by genetic differences from other races

There are Asian races and Asian cultures. For the record I have been talking about a specific cultural idiosyncrasy which is by no means universal within that culture.
posted by localroger at 4:56 PM on April 22, 2011


So what physical, genetic characteristics would define the "Asian race" that both Japanese and Indians supposedly belong to? Because I'm not seeing the resemblance.

They are genetically required to tick the "Asian" race box on their college admission form, which lumps them together no matter how much their ancestors have hated one another since the dawn of time.
posted by localroger at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2011


naked hypocrisy of our claims to meritocracy see I agree with this, but I don't think its race so much as socio-economic issues. The classic example is the high-achieving student who didn't know he was supposed to build a well rounded portfolio for his application - because his parents didn't know that, and he wasn't surrounded by people who knew that. So when he's being compared with another kid from a fancy public school that pumps out good candidates he's at a huge disadvantage - whether that kid is black, white, or asian, it doesn't matter. Its not really about race.
posted by JPD at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa whoa, what if I think that "all asians play violin and piano", and I think that's because asians are fucking awesome? Why won't you consider that the stereotyper has a positive impression?

Even a "positive" stereotype is still reductive, in that it erases the experience of those who don't conform to it. I'm an Asian who doesn't play the violin or the piano; does that make me not fucking awesome? Does that make me less Asian? Why should I have to either be an ambassador for my race's best qualities or an emblem of its worst failings? Why should I always have to be a flag?

In other words, you don't care about the full story, you care about how YOU feel.

I'm saying I can't know what is in someone's heart, I can only know what they express. I therefore don't find it useful to say "that person is a racist", but it's plenty useful to say, "dude, you're acting racist". The former is a brand that may not reflect the full story and may not allow for the possibility of improvement, while the latter attaches just to a specific behavior that can be changed.
posted by Errant at 4:58 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


People seem to be generalizing about a race of people, which defined by genetic differences from other races.

So what? We have as a fact numbers that say, in general, Asian kids do very well in school. We can talk about how, in general, that happens and what to do with those facts without getting in to territory where we have to suggest it's about racism.

VS, you're being disingenuous there, if you want to deny what can be read in plain type it's your own business, there isn't anything to take to mail.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:58 PM on April 22, 2011


Until you find evidence that someone is saying "We need to bring the number of Asians down" as opposed to saying "we need to curve SAT scores by race" its a very very different thing.

Of course. Policies whose enactment will predictably bring the number of Asians down could only possibly have anything to do wanting to bring the number of Asians down if I can produce videotape of a bunch of old white guys smoking cigars and cackling "ha ha! Now we are bringing the number of Asians down!"
posted by Zed at 5:01 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


My son's mother is from Japan, and I am a "Caucasian". Would this make him an "Asian-American"?

Ten yard penalty for stirring the pot. You know as well as I do that he is 'Canadian'. And at least to some extent, at least, Canadians still care less about this stupid shit than their neighbours to the south.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


blargerz: "That was by far the most interesting and useful post so far, thank you. To settle it once and for all: Do you believe that east asian Americans (assuming you are American and live here) play violin and piano at a rate any higher than the non-east asian American population of similar socio-economic background? If so, how much higher? Because I am really wondering why this stereotype exists."

Look, I know (most) people here aren't actively trying to be antagonistic, and it's good to be reminded that we all (mostly) have good intentions. I try, often unsuccessfully, to recuse myself from threads that hit too close to home, because it gets emotional--for many of us, this isn't just some intellectual exercise. This is about our status in a society that doesn't treat its citizens equitably. We deal with it, actively or not, every single day. And yeah, I don't even got it that bad.

Anyway, as for the violin playing business. My cousin A., the radiologist, he's got a bunch of kids. His wife is also a doctor. From a casual look at their lives, she would qualify as a "Tiger Mother". I was over for Thanksgiving and she was delighted to hear me say I regret not learning more Chinese when I was younger, and wanted me to tell her kids that. One of whom, got up in the middle of T-day dinner to go do his weekly web Chinese language tutoring session. Horrifying for many readers here, I'm sure. But like with any story, there is more to it than what fits the stereotype. It's not that one of the kids plays violin, it's the motivations and significance assigned to that one thing that enforces whatever narrative you're interested in pursuing, rather than what is actually there. I mean of course it is, because what's really there is complicated. They played a little for me, the little brother on the violin, and the older brother on the trumpet, playing Seven Nation Army.

So what's the story here? That their parents forced them to learn an instrument, and one that emphasizes success through brutal discipline, rather than one that encourages creativity? Or is it two brothers enjoying the shit out of a song, and coming up with their own take on the White Stripes? My parents tried to make me take piano lessons. It lasted for two weeks before I said "fuck this" and I ended up learning the guitar instead. How does that fit into things?

I can't tell you what the numbers are, and I'm not sure anyone can. But I think that's the least important part of the issue. The way this particularly stereotype has been wielded (in conversations, here, on Metafilter!) wouldn't cease to be offensive or hurtful even if every single god-damned one of us was required to play the piano as an entry requirement into the country.
posted by danny the boy at 5:04 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


My kid is half Japanese. She is in her last year at a performing arts school in California. All of her friends at school are Asian. Yes, that means they are all creative. There is the Chinese boy who is a Graphic artist. The Korean girl who is a singer. The Filipino who plays guitar. The Indian girl who is an actress. They are all there by merit and had to out-sing, out-act, or out-draw other students who applied. My daughter is not academically driven but she sure as hell can sing. It's a shame that should she want to attend college she will be discriminated against because she has Asian features and a Japanese last name.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:06 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


no that's not the point. The reason why you are curving the scores is because you can't explain why Asians score higher on a standardized test. What's your explanation? Its either inherently racist, or its an acknowledgment that the population has been better coached. Take your pick.
posted by JPD at 5:07 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


As we are all aware, social engineering is okay when directed at whites and males because they are all rich and have good parents.

Won't anyone think of the white dudes?!
posted by ServSci at 5:11 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what physical, genetic characteristics would define the "Asian race" that both Japanese and Indians supposedly belong to?

South Asians are genetically Caucasian. The fact that they get lumped in with asians has more to do with geography.

I have been talking about a specific cultural idiosyncrasy which is by no means universal within that culture.

I think this is exactly the problem. There are many asian cultures that are all different from each other. Supposed "specific cultural idiosyncrasies" don't really exist, and aren't specifically asian. If you're going to believe in some sort of monolithic asian parenting style, then surely you would also believe in the archetype of the jewish mother.

This whole concept is bogus because it clearly depends on some kind of shared asian-ness that doesn't exist.
posted by snofoam at 5:11 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its either inherently racist, or its an acknowledgment that the population has been better coached.

Coached? It couldn't be they were hard workers on their own? Or that their cultural background was such that they and their peers were steeped in certain areas of intellectual pursuit, without a parental Svengali in the background? One poster here intimated as much from his observations going to school in Asia - the kids simply had different interests, compared to the American kids there.
posted by VikingSword at 5:13 PM on April 22, 2011


My parents tried to make me take piano lessons. It lasted for two weeks before I said "fuck this" and I ended up learning the guitar instead. How does that fit into things?

Congratulations are in order. I stuck with the accordion for about six years longer than I should have.

This is all about a very small minority of both parents and students. It is really about the relative smallness of that minority, and the ruthlessness and consistency of its techniques, in several different cultures. But when you're Harvard you're looking for a very small minority, and what is really a small bias can start to look like a very weird and disconcerting trend.

The fundamental problem is that testing doesn't work out at these standard deviations. It is possible to study to the tests however the tests are structured, and out on the bleeding edge a student who has studied how to take the test can outscore a student who just has strong general knowledge and skill very often.

There is no solution to this that won't arbitrarily hurt innocent people.
posted by localroger at 5:14 PM on April 22, 2011


monolithic asian parenting style

Since you seem to have trouble reading let me cap a few words for you:

SMALL IDIOSYNCRATIC MINORITY

Which of those words did you read as "monolithic?"
posted by localroger at 5:17 PM on April 22, 2011


Hi there. I'm an Asian-American who graduated from Berkeley in '07, having not gotten into my first choice school, Yale. It feels like many of you are talking about me, but getting the details wrong, so I feel like I should introduce myself. Allow me share a few factoids with you.

1. I am of Japanese descent and a third-generation American, thanks to my intrepid great-grandparents. I don't speak Japanese, and I grew up in a suburban neighborhood that was overwhelmingly Hispanic and Chinese. I was also one of the only non-white students attending my very unusual high school.

2. My grade school experience was probably more screwed up than you can imagine. From kindergarten through high school, I attended a very small private school with creepy high-profile cult affiliations. I was one of the only students in my graduating class of 9 to attend college at all, and I figured it might have been a fluke, but my younger brother got into Berkeley the following year. To this day, I'm not entirely sure how admissions officers made heads or tails of our applications, but I was and remain eternally grateful that they let us in anyway.

3. I do not have Tiger Parents. They generally loved me and encouraged me to do well, but they've never had the time or energy to micromanage the lives of me and my siblings. To that end, I was a good student, but not valedictorian, and my SAT scores were good, but not great. I also do not play the violin, piano, or any other musical instrument, but I was a drama geek and liked to read.

4. I was an English major and graduated with decent, but not stellar grades. When I was in school, I knew Asians in just about every major, all with different goals and interests, from wannabe doctors to William Hung (Oh, sweet Jesus, the stories I could tell...). One friend had been a professional fashion photographer since high school, another was extremely enthusiastic about medieval French, and yet another was a major pothead who worried about being drafted into military service if he ever went home.

5. I too have been frustrated and intimidated in mostly Asian classes before. I have also been frustrated and intimidated by mostly Caucasian classes. It's just intense when you realize you're in a room full of hyper-dedicated gunners and you're mostly average.

Bottom line, broad generalizations kinda suck when it comes to race, even when you think it's a compliment. They make you sound tone-deaf at best or a bigoted asshat at worst. If you want to start making the world better as a whole, please stop making it an issue of "us" versus "them" while detailing how your friend is a walking, talking stereotype. It's been my experience that people of all races can be both utterly unremarkable or far stranger than you could possibly imagine, and higher education in North America has enough issues without you fouling it up with a load of casual racism.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:17 PM on April 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


VikingSword - ideally a test like the SAT is meant to be taken totally blind, never having seen the questions or format before. Test prep and the like just muddle the results - that's the point. I'm not arguing that there is something wrong about getting a high score on your SATs, or that there is some value judgment in that statement about coaching.

In a perfect world everyone would take their SAT exam without having an idea whatsoever about the exam.
posted by JPD at 5:20 PM on April 22, 2011


I don't have time to read this whole thread but I do want to say that I also know 30+ Asians, in case anyone has any questions.
posted by escabeche at 5:20 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Coached? It couldn't be they were hard workers on their own? Or that their cultural background was such that they and their peers were steeped in certain areas of intellectual pursuit, without a parental Svengali in the background?

Why, in general, is there a greater chance Asian American kids will be hard working? What aspect of Asian American culture leads them to, in general, be less anti-intelectual than the rest of the population?

In the long term, we should work on spreading these qualities instead of curving tests.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:22 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Should I ask my classes about this on Monday? I have maybe sixty or seventy Asian students.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:23 PM on April 22, 2011


Well JPD, what if engaging in certain intellectual pursuits predisposes you to do better on SAT exams, and a given group is culturally more likely to do so? What then? It can be anything - Russians are fond of chess in numbers greater than Americans by percentage, and so on.

My point being, that if Asian kids tend to - for cultural reasons - pursue more nerdy interests, it may develop intellectual skills that translate to better SAT scores. That's all that's necessary to explain certain statistics, with no parents in the background at all. And again, that's what the poster reported as his experience in an Asian school.

I bring it up, because it's quite outside of the "only choices" you outlined. You are quite clearly wrong about your outlined choices being "the only ones".
posted by VikingSword at 5:25 PM on April 22, 2011


In a perfect world everyone would take their SAT exam without having an idea whatsoever about the exam.

And the same for IQ tests. "Test wiseness" is especially perfidious at the high end, because a somewhat smart student is more likely to be able to leverage it against smarter students than a somewhat stupid student will against less stupid students.

My parents piously refused to let my IQ be tested but of course in the course of the whole admissions thing you take a number of tests which can be converted to Z-score if you know the statistics. I have never in my life been less than five standard deviations out on a standardized test. (I probably wouldn't do so well today. I can almost feel the brain cells dying.)

Is this because I'm really that much smarter than everyone else? Or is it because one of my hobbies as a preteen was taking Tiger Dad's tests (he was a college physics professor) and regularly making higher scores on them than his real students could? It didn't hurt that he used a multiple choice format very similar to the SAT/ACT/etc and used a very similar logic to formulate his questions.

Oh, and you know that gal Marilyn Vos-Savant with the super high IQ? She has a hobby too. It's taking IQ tests. That can't have anything to do with her fantastically high scores, since the tests are designed to account for that, right?
posted by localroger at 5:26 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well JPD, what if engaging in certain intellectual pursuits predisposes you to do better on SAT exams
nice response: then the test design is flawed.

meaner response: this a more nuanced version of saying Asians are smarter
posted by JPD at 5:28 PM on April 22, 2011


I would also like to point out, that research shows that very early - very early - parenting has a profound impact on how well kids do academically. Early enough, that the question of school does not enter into it - were are talking infants and toddlers. Perhaps (I don't know) perhaps some cultural parenting practices this early are advantageous? These may hold some of the explanation for the differences. The point is, there may be many, many factors, and we don't need to bring it down to "race".
posted by VikingSword at 5:30 PM on April 22, 2011


"Should I ask my classes about this on Monday? I have maybe sixty or seventy Asian students."

What do you teach, how engaged are your students, and how do they handle controversial topics?
posted by stratastar at 5:34 PM on April 22, 2011


this a more nuanced version of saying Asians are smarter

Nope. It means that certain activities make you better at similar activities. Nothing to do with smarts. Like the research showing the surprising advantages of playing video games for other activities which involve hand-eye coordination. It stands to reason, that if you do a lot of cross-word puzzles, play go, have to speak more than one language from a very early age, and so on, you may simply be better at taking tests that measure that. Doesn't make them "smarter".

And is the test flawed? Well, no academic test is perfect as far as I know, so that's a given. But a more interesting question is what does that test measure? If it measures how well you'll do as a student, and it's statistically accurate within some margin of error, then why is it flawed?
posted by VikingSword at 5:36 PM on April 22, 2011


JPD: nice response: then the test design is flawed.

All tests are flawed in this way. All of them. It is not possible to design a test that does not have this flaw, although it has been a fairy tale / holy grail of the eugenics community for a long, long time.
posted by localroger at 5:36 PM on April 22, 2011


The point is, there may be many, many factors, and we don't need to bring it down to "race".

By attributing the differences to early parenting or culture of intellectualism you aren't doing any less attribution to race than anyone else here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:36 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even a "positive" stereotype is still reductive, in that it erases the experience of those who don't conform to it. I'm an Asian who doesn't play the violin or the piano; does that make me not fucking awesome? Does that make me less Asian? Why should I have to either be an ambassador for my race's best qualities or an emblem of its worst failings? Why should I always have to be a flag?

If you have the time and energy to get worked up about positive stereotypes, well... it is what it is. You and all people everywhere are an individual, I get it. But enough people of east asian heritage play piano and violin to make it an interesting phenomenon, worthy of comment, and hopefully, elucidation by people here of said background.
posted by blargerz at 5:37 PM on April 22, 2011


stratastar: I wasn't serious. But since you asked: to be honest I'm not sure how they handle controversial topics. One of my classes is basically all technical stuff, and in the other one they don't show up because it's nine in the morning and they don't want to be there because it's just required for their major but they don't see how it's relevant. Which is, I suppose, partially my fault, but I'm new to this whole "teaching" thing and still figuring things out.

(I teach college statistics, at one of the colleges mentioned in the article that has a lot of Asian students. So I suppose this article is actually something I could legitimately mention in class...)
posted by madcaptenor at 5:38 PM on April 22, 2011


By attributing the differences to early parenting or culture of intellectualism you aren't doing any less attribution to race than anyone else here.

How so? Asians are a racially very disparate group - but they may share certain cultural characteristics due to history - that has nothing to do with race... characteristics they may share, for example, with Jews. Or group X. Culture does not equal race.
posted by VikingSword at 5:39 PM on April 22, 2011


FYI: What SAT scores actually predict
posted by Jacqueline at 5:43 PM on April 22, 2011


If you have the time and energy to get worked up about positive stereotypes, well... it is what it is.

Yeah, you're right, buddy, I choose to get worked up over things, because I have absolutely nothing better to do than experience hurt, outrage, and anger. Seriously, it's my second-favoritest thing, after calling my parents.

At some point I would like you to consider that some of the things you've said here have been fairly problematic and painful, and I would like you to consider what, if anything, you'd like to do about that. I don't think you will, because I don't think you're interested in dialogue that doesn't confirm your biases, but I hope that you will. We're probably done here until then, yes? Or did you have more?
posted by Errant at 5:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


No one can seriously argue that early childhood education and parental involvement isn't a major predictor of success.

So the remaining question in that part of the debate is whether there is any statistical correlation between Asians and more involvement in their child's early education. I have no idea if thats true or not. But if there was, it would explain "overrepresentation" of Asians relative to another group with a much lower amount of involvement.

Just as you can _easily_ demonstrate that wealth correlates with early childhood education/involvement.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]



By attributing the differences to early parenting or culture of intellectualism you aren't doing any less attribution to race than anyone else here.

How so? Asians are a racially very disparate group - but they may share certain cultural characteristics due to history - that has nothing to do with race... characteristics they may share, for example, with Jews. Or group X. Culture does not equal race.


You may have missed the point.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:48 PM on April 22, 2011


If you have the time and energy to get worked up about positive stereotypes, well... it is what it is.

Positive stereotypes just as racist as negative stereotypes.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:50 PM on April 22, 2011


Like the research showing the surprising advantages of playing video games for other activities which involve hand-eye coordination. It stands to reason, that if you do a lot of cross-word puzzles, play go, have to speak more than one language from a very early age, and so on, you may simply be better at taking tests that measure that. Doesn't make them "smarter".

Why do you presume Asians as a population do this at a greater rate then other groups? Last I checked there were a few folks in the Hispanic cohort that speak a second language at home and they as a group score worse than whites. This form of argument on your point is inherently racist. I mean only the most unreconstructed bigot attempts to blame issues in african american communities on some lower level of natural intelligence, instead most of them claim something like "their culture just doesn't embrace xxxx" or some bullshit.

Also again, its meant to be an exam that is neutral with regard to your set of experiences. In theory, I a child who grew up in upper middle class suburbia in a part of the country that churns out kids who go to Ivies and other highly selective schools should be just as likely to score in the k-th percentile of the exam as is some kid who grew up in rural eastern kentucky where the a good outcome for a kid is graduating from high school. The reality is that this is not the case, so the people fiddle with the outcome of the exam to make it like for like.
posted by JPD at 5:52 PM on April 22, 2011


The reason why you are curving the scores is because you can't explain why Asians score higher on a standardized test. What's your explanation?
Obviously, this is complicated, tricky terrain, but I could hazard some guesses.

First of all, "Asians" don't score well on standardized tests. There are some Asian groups that are among the most educationally disadvantaged populations in the US. When we talk about "Asians," we are mostly talking about Chinese, Japanese and Korean-Americans, not about Hmong, Vietnamese or Filipino-Americans, and I suspect that you could find other distinctions that would be important. "Asian" is a weird, misleading category that lumps together people with very different backgrounds and experiences.

Second of all, the "high achieving Asian" groups tend to be fairly recent immigrants, because most Asians were kept out of the US by racist immigration policies until the 1960s. Members of "high achieving Asian" groups tend to have come to the US using visas that were reserved for people with skills or education. (This is different from non "high-achieving Asian" Asian groups, who were more likely to have come as refugees, for instance.) In general, people whose parents are educated tend to do better on standardized tests than people whose parents aren't. US immigration policy means that Asian-Americans are disproportionately well-educated.

Third of all, many "high achieving Asian" groups are comprised of fairly-recent immigrants (and their children) who come from countries where tests matter a lot. They tend to focus on tests, which can advantage their kids in some ways and not in others. I think you'd probably find that the same thing was true of non-Asian immigrants who come from exam cultures.

And finally, historians who have researched immigrants' social mobility have found a lot of instances of ethnic groups succeeding wildly in one society and failing badly in another. So, for instance, Southern Italians who went to New York at the turn of the century tended to stay poor for several generations, while their cousins who went to San Francisco did ok, and their cousins who went to Argentina did great. In New York, people believed that Italians were culturally programmed to fail, and in Argentina people believed that Italians were culturally programmed to succeed. The same point has been made about Jamaicans in the modern era: in Canada and Britain their low rates of economic and academic success are attributed to their culture, and in the US their high rates of economic and academic success are attributed to their culture. When you do cross-destination comparisons, you definitely get the impression that their are factors other than culture that determine whether ethnic groups succeed or not in a given locale.
posted by craichead at 5:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [51 favorites]


Having thought about it a bit more, this may be obvious but even if you did find a correlation between "Asians" ( a problematic term, I agree ) and educational involvement, it could be a side effect of a different correlation (such as higher median income). Correlation != causation, and all that.

The correlation between wealth and early childhood education / involvement is so strong (measured by things like PTA involvement, preschool attendance, etc) that anything that also correlates with wealth will probably show a correlation here.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:59 PM on April 22, 2011


We're probably done here until then, yes? Or did you have more?

May the force be with you.
posted by blargerz at 6:00 PM on April 22, 2011


That's why social scientists use multiple regression analysis -- to control for factors like wealth and income and isolate the factors they want to measure the impact of.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:02 PM on April 22, 2011


Why do you presume Asians as a population do this at a greater rate then other groups? Last I checked there were a few folks in the Hispanic cohort that speak a second language at home and they as a group score worse than whites. This form of argument on your point is inherently racist. I mean only the most unreconstructed bigot attempts to blame issues in african american communities on some lower level of natural intelligence, instead most of them claim something like "their culture just doesn't embrace xxxx" or some bullshit.

Nice - you quoted me out of context. My post which lead to the early parenting one is this:

"Perhaps (I don't know) perhaps some cultural parenting practices this early are advantageous? These may hold some of the explanation for the differences. The point is, there may be many, many factors, and we don't need to bring it down to "race"."

Did you notice the part where I say "perhaps" (twice) followed by question mark, then the emphasis, that if so, then these "may" (with emphasis on may) "hold some of the explanation". Pretty damn tentative. And absolutely nothing to do with racism. It is unquestionable, that certain cultural practices may have certain results - for example, the famous "emphasis on education" for many Jewish families. That's not racism. Saying that there are cultural differences is racist? Nowhere sane. Any group that adopts these practices would see similar results. Why are cultures different? Cultural differences spring not from race, as you seem to assume for the sake of accusing me of racism, but from history (which I did point out). Again, there may be many factors. Some may be cultural - I don't know - but if so, that's a reason outside of race.
posted by VikingSword at 6:04 PM on April 22, 2011


To defend myself, I didn't frame the article in terms of Asians, and certainly your point is fair. to your second point, people who sit the SAT from any racial cohort tend to be the children of the more educated and better off. I'd be interested in seeing information on the parental educational backgrounds of the different cohorts - certainly that would be an argument that curving the tests downwards without considering this fact is incorrect. The third point is the one most commonly used by the admissions committees at these schools when they curve the exams downward.

That's why social scientists use multiple regression analysis -- to control for factors like wealth and income and isolate the factors they want to measure the impact of.

Yes exactly. Do you have a study that shows SAT scores regressed on race and income? I can only find them separately.
posted by JPD at 6:04 PM on April 22, 2011


"Do you have a study that shows SAT scores regressed on race and income? I can only find them separately."

I'm too lazy to dig for studies right now but the data sets are out there if you want to run the regressions yourself.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:10 PM on April 22, 2011


You can't substitute culture and race. Is it somehow less offensive if I say "White culture is anti-intellectual" rather than "White people are anti-intellectual"

I don't seriously think you're racist by the way, I do think you sort of jumped all over people for saying a less nuanced version of what you are attempting to say now though.

No matter what, my point is that even if your assertion is correct, where really I'm sort of agnostic personally, then it is really just showcasing the flaws in standardized aptitude testing of the sort that college admissions use.
posted by JPD at 6:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I too am too lazy.
posted by JPD at 6:15 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Colleges are not meritocracies anymore, if they ever were. Admission counselors are charged with filling a class with bright, interesting, diverse people.

So what are you saying? It's not as if, like, Asia is a single country, right?
posted by polymodus at 6:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This has been bothering me for a few hours now so I just want to get this out. I really appreciate the stories and experiences shared by the Asian and Asian-American Mefites. I still don't think anyone should have to share their biography or the biographies of their acquaintances in order to establish their humanity. "I'm Asian-American, I had loving parents/got mediocre grades/went to a state school/play guitar, I exist!" Not fair, not right. Folks think they can look at you or hear of your ancestry and now they know you, because your people are not a varied, complex, human group of people.
posted by Danila at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [27 favorites]


I go into threads like these with two rules.

1. Don't use the word all in reference to any group.
2. Assume people don't mean it when they do use the word all, or we just end up arguing about it when no one actually means all.

And somehow we end up with the "ALL 30" guy. Sigh.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for that, Danila.
posted by Errant at 6:59 PM on April 22, 2011


Hey, ASIAN here, just trying to help out with your questions!

QUESTION: Why do Asians play the piano and violin?

WELL: I played the piano first since it has a pretty big tonal range, I got to learn to read treble and bass clef, and finally, the layout of the instrument made it easier to learn the theory and general musicality of- JUST KIDDING! I'm Asian, of COURSE I went with the piano! Here it is, in our big monthly newsletter, "Rules: 1) Asians play the Piano, and maybe the violin. 2) Deviation from these rules will be seen as a feeble attempt at creativity, and will be punished accordingly, via Suppressive Parenting."

See, it's helpful because I don't have to think up anything on my own.

Lacking any verve or imagination really puts a damper on things like that, though luckily, the same handicap reduces awareness of how empty and soulless my life is. Thank god for that!

I don't really get how some people in this thread are getting angry on my behalf and calling such stereotypes "dehumanizing" and "negative." It's actually a positive thing to be called coldly logical and devoid of empathy. I'm sure you're all dying to be called this too. Who HASN'T shared the experience of staring wistfully outside, thinking "man, I wish someone would call me an empty husk capable of only rote memorization and recollection, an automaton incapable of compassion, caring, or original thought." You know what though, I'm really living the dream, because lots of people just automatically assume that I'm an unblinking, unsmiling android, sight unseen! You know, random, highly-expert internet people (that may know upwards of 10 Asians!).

Yesss.

So that's cool. What else? What... the fuck else... right, the anecdotes. This is the absolute best way you can make all kinds of conclusions about Asians in general. This is because the Asian population is so homogenous it actually makes a lot of sense to list ten samples out of hundreds of millions to draw valid conclusions - I know, I know, some of you more scientifically-minded might say, "how could such a small sample POSSIBLY say anything with even an iota of validity in a population so large?"

To you I say, "WHOA WHOA, hold up there! That sounds suspiciously like a course of action where I can't just regurgitate some stories that I rote-memorized!"

"Independent thought frightens me!"

Hope this helped! I'm sure you will sleep better at night now, what with this burning mystery being solved and all.
posted by Tikirific at 7:18 PM on April 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


The school needs the occasional musician who can play something other than the piano or violin, etc.

Angular banjos sound good to me, yo.
posted by pressF1 at 7:27 PM on April 22, 2011


pressF1: While your comment is cute, it betrays a startling ignorance of the rest of the thread. As have a lot of other posts. I'm just picking on you because you were at the end of the line.
posted by localroger at 7:28 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm amazed that this degree of blatant racism being exhibited here - I can't think of many other groups that anybody would think it's acceptable to break out such vicious stereotypes about.

Teenagers.
posted by pressF1 at 7:33 PM on April 22, 2011


In Britain, they are always worried about class an admissions to elite universities, especially Oxbridge. In the United States, it's race and admission that are the big concern.

I always figured we had this problem licked in Canada, because we have no elite universities. (the Maclean's article suggests we have a different problem). It's one way to stop fighting over who gets the advantages.

And there are real and serious advantages to going to a selective university. A friend of mine and I had just about the same grade point average, and were accepted to the same graduate school. But she was recruited to a prestigious consulting firm (before grad school) which never would have set foot on the campus of my not-unrigorous but decidedly non-elite university. Our job fairs had more grad schools selling expensive professional masters than they had employers recruiting people. When you have big divisions in the prestige of your educational institutions, you will continue to promore inequality.

Of course, the very idea of meritocracy promotes inequality.
posted by jb at 7:36 PM on April 22, 2011


Wow. What a thread. How about we call it a day, grab some burgers, and watch Harold and Kumar? (Not the sequel.)
posted by mariokrat at 7:47 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't substitute culture and race. Is it somehow less offensive if I say "White culture is anti-intellectual" rather than "White people are anti-intellectual"

Of course you can't - that's exactly my argument. Trying to paint is as anything else is simply not going to work. Culture is not race. It is quite possible to have cultural differences, with differential outcome along some axis, without reducing it to race at all. For example, if it is observed that the mediterranean diet of the 50's, had healthier cardio-vascular outcomes than, f.ex. the typical Finnish diet from the 50's, nobody is going to cry "racism!" "you're substituting culture for race!". That would be just stupid. Same here. Are there racists who in other circumstances have indeed substituted race for culture, sure, but what does that have to do with this? I realize you'd like to conflate the two, but sorry, no cigar, ain't falling for it. Incidentally, I did not make the argument that "white culture is anti-intellectual", rather that perhaps there are cultural subgroups in the Asian population, which emphasize factors which then translate into academic success - I don't know, it's merely speculation, just as one may speculate that since very early nutrition has impact on the development of children, perhaps different diets may have different impact? Heck, recently scientists have speculated that a child's IQ is impacted by the amount of pesticides in the pregnant mother's diet.

I don't seriously think you're racist by the way

Well, that's nice. I in turn don't seriously think you are a racist for positing that one of only three choices explaining the different admission numbers for Asians is "being coached". I do think that you were mistaken in assuming only three choices, and that was the grounds for my pointing out that there may be other explanations besides the three you identified - like f.ex., some cultural factors for certain subgroups of the Asian population... a speculation, rather than assertion, which I underlined several times. My point was - there are other possibilities. I doubt you think "coaching parents" are a racial characteristic of Asians compared to other groups - I'm sure you'd say that you base identifying that option on... wait for it... cultural factors :)
posted by VikingSword at 7:51 PM on April 22, 2011


I say let the Asians in. Asians aren't overrepresented. Asian Americans are over represented. Many of the best universities in the world are American but because Asian is the most populous race many of the best students in the world are going to be Asian. I get that Asian Americans are atypically good at achieving. But it isn't like the world is totally loaded with people that have multi-generation plans for success where one of the steps is starting from scratch, assimilating into a new culture and language, and working near menial jobs so that you can train your children to achieve the highest levels of academic success. Asian immigrants are special not because they are Asian but because they are part of the .0001% of Asians who are trying to pull off this multi-generational, super disciplined, success plan, and have actually gotten pretty far into it.

Most Asians are working in factories or fields. This success isn't because of Asian culture or the Asian race; it is because by getting into the United States at all Asian families have won and ambition and discipline contest already. I get that there is a regression towards the mean but at the same time children of doctors are much more likely to be doctors than children of non doctors and children of doctors are much more likely to be just social studies teachers than just cashiers. When you acknowledge how special certain groups of immigrants are qua being certain groups of immigrants (IE non-first world, non adjacent, non remissions workers, non-refugee) differences in achievement make sense. They were allowed in specifically to achieve.
posted by I Foody at 8:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Legend has it that when I was 4 years old, I asked for piano lessons. My grandparents and elder cousin could play; I probably saw them playing and thought it was cool or something. Crazy, I know. I eventually wheedled my parents into buying a piano, and I liked it well enough to stick with the lessons for 11 years. Anyhow, that's why this person of Asian descent knows how to play the piano. If there is a greater Asian Piano Conspiracy afoot, I totally missed the memo.
posted by emeiji at 8:21 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hope this helped! I'm sure you will sleep better at night now, what with this burning mystery being solved and all.

I'm not sure why you are all passive aggressive and sarcastic when speaking about such an interesting and timely topic.
posted by blargerz at 8:29 PM on April 22, 2011


Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc. aren't very interested in SAT scores and GPAs because everyone they accept, and an even greater number that they reject, are so strong by those measures that they can't be distinguished from each other. So they pay attention to other less quantitative measures such as special activities, leadership, and exceptionally strong letters from people whom they trust to be able to detect exceptional potential. -- GentleReader

You really shouldn't group MIT with Yale in your example. My understanding is that MIT has an extremely objective and appropriately nerdy admission process whereby the applicants' numbers are put in a grid, and a result of a number of complex calculations determines whether you get in or not. This is pretty much the opposite of what you are suggesting. (Here's a link that talks about this a bit.) Yale, on the other hand...


And as for the subject at hand, I tend to look at things from the high level of 'how do I and society benefit?' point of view. If you had some rare cancer and saw some specialist, wouldn't you want the guy who studied 27 hours a day and new his subject better than anyone else? Wouldn't it be a shame if he weren't admitted because, although he's seen as brilliant, someone decided his race was 'over represented'?

I say encourage any and every culture to work hard at being brilliant, and make sure they all get rewarded for these efforts. We all benefit in the end.
posted by eye of newt at 8:37 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


s/new/knew/ That wouldn't look too good on a college application!
posted by eye of newt at 8:41 PM on April 22, 2011


I still don't think anyone should have to share their biography or the biographies of their acquaintances in order to establish their humanity.

Who is questioning anyone's humanity? I certainly didn't, I don't think anyone else did, and I wouldn't support any person who does.
posted by blargerz at 8:46 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm not sure why you are all passive aggressive and sarcastic when speaking about such an interesting and timely topic.
posted by blargerz at 11:29 PM on April 22 [+] [!]


Oh, I have this one!

It's because either you are correct, and the Asian stereotypes are true, in which case you are arguing with a whole bunch of emotionless Asian people who have been beaten every day since birth to become super logic robots (which means you're wrong) ... or ... the stereotypes are wrong and so are you.

HOIST WITH YOUR OWN PETARD! HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND!
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:46 PM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


and make sure they all get rewarded for these efforts.

A sentence worth a thousand years.
posted by cashman at 8:49 PM on April 22, 2011


And as for the subject at hand, I tend to look at things from the high level of 'how do I and society benefit?' point of view. If you had some rare cancer and saw some specialist, wouldn't you want the guy who studied 27 hours a day and new his subject better than anyone else? Wouldn't it be a shame if he weren't admitted because, although he's seen as brilliant, someone decided his race was 'over represented'?
Medical school admissions is something I know a bit about.

So here's the thing about the medical profession in the US. There is no shortage of brilliant specialists. We're pretty set for brilliant doctors who research and treat rare conditions. What we have a shortage of is primary care physicians. What you have to worry about is not whether you'll be able to find the smartest specialist to treat your rare cancer. You have to worry about whether you'll have access to the run-of-the-mill, not-necessarily-brilliant doctor who will notice your symptoms, think "hey, that might be cancer," and refer you to the specialist when there's still time for you to be treated and cured. That's especially true if you live in a medically-underserved community, such as many inner cities and rural areas.

There is a lot of data that shows that the people who are most likely to become primary care docs in underserved areas are people who are from those areas. People who grew up in rural areas are vastly more likely to become doctors in rural areas than people who grew up in cities or suburbs. People who grew up in minority communities are vastly more likely to become doctors in minority communities than people who grew up elsewhere.

Diversity in medical school admissions isn't just some touchy-feely feel-good thing. It's a life or death matter. Sometimes the best doctor is not the most brilliant doctor, but the doctor to whom you have access.

I'm not in any way saying that I favor policies that discriminate against Asian-American applicants. But the diversity thing is actually a little more complicated than it sometimes seems.
posted by craichead at 8:54 PM on April 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


It's because either you are correct, and the Asian stereotypes are true, in which case you are arguing with a whole bunch of emotionless Asian people who have been beaten every day since birth to become super logic robots (which means you're wrong) ... or ... the stereotypes are wrong and so are you.

Are you serious? I don't think you possibly could be, but just in case. A) I never claimed or supported anyone else's claim that asians are "super logic robots", explicitly or implicitly. B) Even if asians were "super logic robots", this does not imply infallibility, so non-asians do not automatically lose arguments with asians. LOL
posted by blargerz at 9:06 PM on April 22, 2011


Do you remember when I said that you said some painful things? You may wish to consider why people are reacting to you this way.
posted by Errant at 9:24 PM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm sure we could get rid of certain legacy kids that wouldn't stand a chance otherwise and usher in more Asians. Or Blacks. Or Natives. Or anybody, really.
posted by autoclavicle at 9:40 PM on April 22, 2011


how can the statement "All Chinese like rice", which everyone knows is untrue

Some people, don't know that that is untrue. All white people are racists. All black people are lazy. All whites are not to be trusted. All Asians are squares who excel academically and are not creative but at the same time all Asians are in street gangs and can kill you very creatively with their fingers. Hey, it's ok to say these things! They're not harmful because everyone knows they're not true. Wonderful criteria for what qualifies as harmful statements. Bullies will be especially pleased.


2. All Asians have been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything, including career choice and absolute loyalty.
I know 30+ asians, all of whom were raised with this attitude.


I know x amount of Asians who were not. In fact, none of my Asian colleagues from childhood to the present were raised with this attitude, including 3 Asian girlfriends (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese) who didn't play any instruments (I've also had 2 Greek girlfriends, only one of which liked it "that way", 2 Italian girlfriends who were not Catholic and were not in the Mafia, etc.)

But to generalize, the "attitude" that you owe your parents something, which could be cast as you should respect your elders and appreciate their contribution to your life, unless they were considerably horrible, is common to many cultures, not just Asian culture.

3. All Asians will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to do.
I know 30+ asians, all of whom are very given to supervision, from teachers, parents, and bosses.


I know a lot of people, different cultures and racial backgrounds who are very given to supervision from teachers, parents, and bosses. In fact, very many. If someone has something valuable to contribute to you then why not? Now there are some assholes, of multiple cultural/racial backgrounds, who interpret reasonable supervision as the "man" trying to pull something over them, or that the teacher can't teach them x y or z because it's not cool. But again, not limited to cultures or races, but to individuals. I guess even the kung fu Asians listen to their masters right? Are you Rob Ford?

4. All Asians have had creativity and originality beaten out of them by child abuse.
None of the asians I know are particularly creative, which I believe is largely due to their respect for the rails which adults have set them on. Although their parents were very strict -- the use of the term "beaten" is a transparent metaphor.


Oh Christ. Define creative. Isn't playing a musical instrument creative? Isn't the piano a common starting point for music education across the board, even for guitar players? Isn't it a common misconception that creativity and discipline are unrelated when the opposite is true? That programmers are not creative but designers are? Programmers are incredibly creative, coming up with efficient and modular ways of coding for example that empower millions around the world. I suppose there are very few if any Asians in the programming field...

How many non-Asians do you know who are truly creative? Half of the artists I know personally are, wait for it, wait for it, Asian! However I'm not going to conclude that therefore all Asians are creative or that it's common across the board in modern society because others have observed it as well. As for child abuse, I've known a few people who have been abused physically and sexually. Those people are from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Seems that abuse, like creativity, is a human thing, not an Asian thing. As far as I can tell, beyond some very generalized cultural differences, all cultures share remarkable similarities as do individuals. These include generosity, smarts, absurdity, abuse, violence, eating, drinking, fucking, the whole gamut.

Quite astounding. Yes, cultures do have some over riding elements in them, but their cultures within cultures within cultures and none is monotone. I be willing to bet there are many more Asians, Caucasians, Blacks, etc. who do not fit any of these stereotypes, who do not get to go to University or play the violin.

All white people are Jesus freaks, rednecks, privileged, stupid, smart, atheists because I know a lot of them that are. Guess what, every cultural group is diverse. I'm pretty pleased to not live in a world where I would think that all Americans are poorly educated and rely on memory rather than critical thinking and so they are stupid. Or be full of fear when I go out for Dim Sum that a wildly violent fight might break out because someone's honour was violated, or they got an A+ instead of an A and won't attack their teacher whom they worship, but will attack the person who distracted them during the test.

I too am too lazy.

Is that because of your culture and/or background?
posted by juiceCake at 9:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


juiceCake:

Some people, don't know that that is untrue.

In your experience, what percentage of people that you come across do you think *actually, literally believe* that "All Chinese like rice"? If it is less than 50%, how can one justifiably presume that a given random person who says it *actually, literally believes* it, and furthermore, harbors prejudice or racism?

And, thank you for your counter-anecdata. Having said what you did, in your experience, do you believe that people of east asian heritage are any less likely to question authority than people of non- ? I am curious why this stereotype exists, and as a non-east asian, am appreciative of any insight.
posted by blargerz at 10:07 PM on April 22, 2011


In your experience, what percentage of people that you come across do you think *actually, literally believe* that "All Chinese like rice"?

I know about 30 people who do, at least.
posted by cashman at 10:19 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


@I Foody - Very good point. An interesting statistic is that immigrants from Africa make up a disproportionate (that is, larger than would be expected considering the actual demographic composition) number of black students at college/selective colleges [pdf]. There's also some additional statistics that show immigrants of African origin actually have a higher rate of college-level matriculation/graduation than other subgroups (including Asian-Americans), which you can find easily with a Google search (it was widely reported). Anyway, the point being that race doesn't seem to have much to do with academic "success" but context (in the form of culture, drive, motivations, and a slew of other invisible variables) does.

Now, this caused the conversation to shift a bit, back when this stuff was being reported on. Are schools "padding" their diversity numbers with high-achieving immigrants for the sake of filling a quota, thus subverting the intention of affirmative action to provide opportunities for the underprivileged and descendants of those that lived under slavery and institutionalized racism? And if so, what value does the current system even have, aside from making people feel good about admitting racial minorities on a systematic basis?

It seems to me that if you truly want a (inherently unequal) meritocracy, then you should let all the qualified applicants in (within your means, of course), regardless of race. But if you do want to level the playing field a bit (and this is my personal position) you'd far better achieve your purpose with economic or social indicators rather than maintaining ethnic ratios. Does this also mean that many Asians might be excluded? Yes, likely. But I can live with that principle, especially since it would also mesh nicely with...

@craichead's excellent point, regarding the propensity for people of underserved areas returning to them after finishing their education.

And...

@blargerz - Passive-aggressive? I thought I was being fairly un-subtle. But if you want to engage, sure, I'll engage. It seems to me from the trajectory of your posts that you want some blanket explanation of "why do Asians [X]?" while rejecting the notion that everyone is a "special snowflake." You should know that this is impossible, and you don't have to subscribe to Special Snowflake Ideology to recognize that. Even given all the statistics in the world (which you don't have), you'd still be speculating on causation. Too many variables. Under the category of "Asian" you have people of different nationalities, family lives, culture, individual preferences, motivations, and so on and so forth. What can you possibly control amongst those when comparing them to another population, that has the same insane number of confounding variables?

No statistical tool, no technique, no study can account for all that. So then starts a pissing match of "well I know this guy" that poisons the discussion. So, basically what I'm saying is that the 30+ Asians you know is basically worthless as pieces of information re: Asians Doing [X]. To be fair, so are the counter-anecdotes, though according to your "logic" if we can come up with 30+ of those things, it'll mean something. It won't.

And exactly none of that has anything to do with the original post, so I'll just leave it there.
posted by Tikirific at 10:22 PM on April 22, 2011


I know a couple of fat lazy Asians that don't have jobs.
posted by erstwhile at 10:24 PM on April 22, 2011


I know about 30 people who do, at least.

If so, it is understandable if you believe that this belief is fairly widespread. But you should seek alternate opinions to achieve higher confidence.
posted by blargerz at 10:25 PM on April 22, 2011


So either accept students based only on their test scores, or divide all the open admission spots equally and take the top scorers from each nationally recognized race and fill those slots. Problem solved.
posted by Malice at 10:25 PM on April 22, 2011


what I'm saying is that the 30+ Asians you know is basically worthless as pieces of information.

Of course it is worthless, on its own. This is why I actively sought and continue to seek more information -- absent scholarly studies to rely upon, anecdotal evidence is all we have when gauging the % reliability of various stereotypes. You should be so lucky that all "stereotype believers" strive to self-educate and seek direct input from the populations in question.
posted by blargerz at 10:42 PM on April 22, 2011


We should be so lucky?
posted by Errant at 11:10 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


High-achieving Asian-American students are being shut out of top schools around the country. Is this what diversity looks like now?

Well, if campus was full of Asians, it wouldn't be very diverse, right?
posted by delmoi at 11:14 PM on April 22, 2011


I teach in Seoul.

The students at the high school where I recently taught (I just left after four years there) have the highest SAT average in the world. They take an average of 10 AP exams--with zero school AP classes--and get 5s on nearly all of them. They rank in the world in debate. They participate at the highest levels in MUN. They volunteer every chance they get. They tutor less-privileged kids in their spare time. They publish in The Concord Review, on the web, and in print newspapers as student journalists. They produce art, and movies, and books of prose, poetry, and nonfiction. They play basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. They dance. They sing. They do robotics, record music, and start companies. They founded the largest high school publication in the world. They read Annie Dillard, John Locke, Richard Dawkins, Mikhail Bakunin, Carnes Lord, Jared Diamond, Michel Foucault, Guy DeBord, Douglas Hofstadter, David Sedaris, David Foster Wallace, and Dave Eggers. They understand the basics of structuralism, semiotics, and existentialism. They are nice and sincere and interesting and not the least bit "uncreative" or "drone-like."

They are incredible kids, but their 2350 is "translated" by admissions officers into a 2100.

Asian-Americans are at a huge disadvantage, but it's nothing compared to the odds facing international students from Asia.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:16 PM on April 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


There's a pretty simple solution here: Asians should apply as Hispanics. It's not like there's a blood test you can do. I once met a white girl who apparently had a single one of her grand parents from Mexico and she was milking it for all she could.
The students at the high school where I recently taught (I just left after four years there) have the highest SAT average in the world. They take an average of 10 AP exams--with zero school AP classes--and get 5s on nearly all ...
I bet they also own at StarCraft.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Very interesting, Joseph Gurl.
posted by blargerz at 11:38 PM on April 22, 2011


I immigrated to the US from the Philippines when I was three, and am fortunate enough to have attended and graduated from a highly ranked college that is currently about 20-25% Asian.

I'm also pretty convinced that ticking the Asian/Pacific-Islander box on your college application is an open invitation for discrimination. There's always the option to refrain, but as it looks like the common application mandatorily asks for your parents' birthplace, it seems like there's no skirting the issue.

My wife and I have a baby on the way (eight weeks along!) who will be unlucky enough to have a parent born in the Southeast Pacific, so I guess I have a vested interest in this issue all over again. What can I do to help correct this injustice, hopefully by the time my son or daughter is applying for college? Are there activist groups I can get in touch with and support? Any ideas?
posted by gushn at 11:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course it is worthless, on its own. This is why I actively sought and continue to seek more information -- absent scholarly studies to rely upon, anecdotal evidence is all we have when gauging the % reliability of various stereotypes.

It's not worthless like almost worthless. It's worthless, and it doesn't matter how many times you add zero to itself-- you still end up with zero.

It sounds like you're thinking that if we just add up everybody's anecdotes, we can start to get some useful information. But when we ask people about stuff like this, we learn more about the people we're asking than about the people we're asking about.

Let's pretend you want to figure out what proportion of red-heads are Martian immigrants. You keep two lists: redheads, and redhead Martians. You start asking people how many of each they know and you add it up-- and yeah, you discover that some people know some redheaded Martians! Is the best explanation that about x% of redheads are from Mars? Or is the better explanation that some of the people you happened to ask were crazy?

In a case like this, it's even worse. Let's take the real example rather than something far-fetched. You want to know what proportion of some subset of Asians lack creativity. Part of the problem in this question is that the question isn't even formulated in an answerable way. What's creativity? How do you identify it? It's not just that this question isn't formulated well, it's that it can't be formulated well. But I think that taking some effort to try to formulate this question concretely would be a really good exercise, because the effort to do so might reveal how much extra rhetorical baggage is built into the hypothesis, and that might help you understand why some people are reacting so negatively to it.

I think that this effort to want to understand, to want answers to questions, is a good thing, but trying to answer questions like the ones you have by adding up what people have to say to undefined questions is worse than resigning yourself to ignorance.
posted by nathan v at 11:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


>I bet they also own at StarCraft.

Not so much, no. Their time is pretty well managed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not worthless like almost worthless. It's worthless, and it doesn't matter how many times you add zero to itself-- you still end up with zero.,

Of course there is no standardized definition of creativity. Even if there were, there is no way to ensure everyone would interpret it the same way. This is why I am interested in people's impressions on various topics, however they interpret it.
posted by blargerz at 12:02 AM on April 23, 2011


I don't want to comment on the race issues, but I think it's the weirdest thing in the world that people are asserting that the violin and piano are somehow intrinsically different to other instruments, and that their intrinsically different qualities reward those Asian stereotypes, memorisation, regimentation and repetitive study.

There's nothing intrinsic to the violin and piano which discourages creativity. There's nothing intrinsic to the guitar or saxophone which encourages wild improvisation either. Those are just cultural factors. Piano and violin are simply regarded as "respectable" instruments compared to guitar and sax.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:16 AM on April 23, 2011


This is why I am interested in people's impressions on various topics, however they interpret it.

Well, you're going to run into people who are each capable of interpreting a word or concept in multiple, subtly different ways, depending on the context. In the case of the original question, part of that context is going to include which group you're asking about.
posted by nathan v at 12:22 AM on April 23, 2011


I think you all need to stop shooting fish in a barrel and address some of the serious questions this raises. Let's go all John Rawls on this bitch and say we've got kids A, W and B, born in 1992. What this data is saying is at age 18 applying for college, we *know* that kid A is far, far more likely than the other two to have "succeeded" in compiling the sort of paper record that will qualify him to get into a good college - something that's still very important in determining the future course of his life. Kid B is incredibly less likely to have that record

Now presumably all you guys in more-colorblind-than-though brigade would agree if we switched kids A, W, and B around between family situations, their outcomes would also switch. Right? Because it's not some internal thing in the kid or his DNA that's causing him to perform so much differently than the kid from the other background, right?

So if you were behind the veil of ignorance and presented with this situation and told 90% of the spots at the best schools will go to the A kids, that they're an order or two of magnitude more likely to get one of those spots than a W or B kid, would you consider this a fair society? Would you just roll the die and take your "B" and say "in the holy SATs we trust"?
posted by crayz at 12:28 AM on April 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Blargerz, I think the problem is that --

1) You seem very intent on acquiring and relating utterly useless anecdotal stories pertaining to the topic at hand

2) You seem to believe that if you acquire enough of them, they will give you information other than "many people believe this particular kind of anecdote to be true"

3) In particular, you seem to believe that simply acquiring enough anecdotes might offer you some explanation of why the anecdotes exist or if there is some degree of truth to them

4) You appear to have drawn such conclusions from your own personal anecdotes ("None of the asians I know are particularly creative, which I believe is largely due to their respect for the rails which adults have set them on")

5) Even though you later effectively admit your conclusions are meaningless ("[T]here is no standardized definition of creativity. Even if there were, there is no way to ensure everyone would interpret it the same way")

6) Coupled with your refusal to admit that even apparently neutral or positive stereotypes can still be harmful, all of this has led people to the conclusion that:

7) You are a person who has a tendency to develop stereotypes, racial or otherwise, based on anecdotes, possibly without even realizing that this is what you are doing, and then stubbornly refuses to admit either that you are doing so or that there is any problem with it if you are.

I sincerely hope that this is not the case, but if it isn't, I feel I should tell you that a good number of people here, myself included, don't have the faintest idea what you are trying to get at or how you are trying to go about demonstrating it, because what you have said so far, intentionally or not, just sounds like (7).
posted by kyrademon at 12:30 AM on April 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


So if you were behind the veil of ignorance and presented with this situation and told 90% of the spots at the best schools will go to the A kids, that they're an order or two of magnitude more likely to get one of those spots than a W or B kid, would you consider this a fair society?

If the differentiation is based on skin color, then adjusting the outcome to suit your own preference strikes me as far more unfair. You are cheating the people who actually best accomplished the goals set out by the admissions criteria. It's not supposed to be about skin color, it's supposed to be about talent.

Maybe the tests are bad, maybe the culture behind the different skin colors isn't properly supportive, maybe the schools in different areas are subpar. THAT'S the real problem that needs to be addressed. Artificially promoting people who are less qualified because they have a skin color you prefer only hides the problem. It is racism, full stop. Any fruit of that tree is poison.

Further, assuming that the tests are actually correct, it pushes less competent people into places where they are taking resources that should have been devoted to those more able to benefit.

That's why I find this whole idea of artificially penalizing Asians because they are Asian to be absolutely repellent, in the same way I think Affirmative Action penalizes whites. It's not actually fixing the problem, it's just slapping a bandaid on a gaping wound and calling it good. If these tests are a good measure of scholastic success, and I haven't seen much evidence that they're not, then we are wasting systemic resources on less-qualified whites because they are white, and society as a whole suffers.

It's not like there's any shortage of decent colleges. It's okay to differentiate between people based on demonstrated talent, commitment, and skill level. Like it or not, and it seems like the progressive crowd really hates this idea, people are not equal. They never will be. And shoving some dumb white guy into Princeton who's far less qualified than some Asian somewhere is damaging us all.

We are ALL Americans, and we prosper or fail together. White American, African-American, Asian-American, that's all bullshit. We are just Americans. Poor Americans, rich Americans, talented Americans, clueless Americans, whatever. Differentiate based on measured traits and background, not ethnicity. If you really want the fictitious concept of race to not matter in America, then you have to make race not matter.
posted by Malor at 1:56 AM on April 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd also like to be very clear here that I think I would have personally benefited from this kind of policy. I did very well on my SATs, but wasn't world-class. Under policies like these, I would probably have been able to coast past some Asian who'd worked his ass off to get to a given college, and I hate, hate, hate that idea.

It would have been stupid to waste the resources on me in preference to an Asian who was smarter and more driven. It's not like I would have been locked out of good colleges, just the absolute best ones. And that would have been the correct decision. He or she demonstrated the skill, and I didn't. They should get the spot they worked so hard for.
posted by Malor at 2:12 AM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you really want the fictitious concept of race to not matter in America, then you have to make race not matter.

Here's my issue with what you're saying: my race and culture matter to me. I love being from my culture. I love having a different story to tell and hearing different stories from other people. I don't believe it's possible to normalize the superculture such that those distinctions become irrelevant, but even if it were, I wouldn't want that to happen, because while I agree with you that we all prosper together, we also all prosper through the richness of a multifaceted tapestry.

I don't think it's as simple as "we should all be the same and differences should be erased". I think we should be allowed to be different from each other, and I think we should be able to have those differences contribute individually instead of being a speedbump, or, more commonly, a brick wall. My version is, I admit, much much harder to figure out how to do well without suppressing someone somewhere, but the rewards for doing it that way seem so much greater to me that it seems worth doing despite the pains of incremental failure.
posted by Errant at 6:04 AM on April 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yep. I came to say what Errant said. Color-blindness is no what we're going for. We want everyone to recognize people's differences and accept them, and treat people well.

My analogies are almost always poor and problematic, but think of it like a parent and children. You have different kids - Jessica, Andre, Ramone & Monica. When they come to you, you're not going to address them all as "Malor Offspring". You'll recognize that they are different, have different wants and needs. Different likes and dislikes. One will struggle with making friends, others will struggle on essays, one will keep getting into fights, one will gossip about others. They will each have differing levels of skill on video games, tests, at athetics and with relationships.

And you'll address all these differences, treating each one differently according to what you know about how to motivate each one, calm down each one, soothe each one, comfort each one, reassure each one and punish each one. But the whole time you're striving to not favor any one over the other, right?

When you hear a kid coming up the stairs in tears, you're not throwing on a blindfold and giving a toddler a lecture on not falling in love with someone who keeps picking on them, or giving a sobbing teenager a binky. You can recognize and acknowledge the differences, seeing that there are lots of dissimilarities, while still being appropriate and fair.
posted by cashman at 6:35 AM on April 23, 2011


If the differentiation is based on skin color, then adjusting the outcome to suit your own preference strikes me as far more unfair...

Differentiate based on measured traits and background, not ethnicity. If you really want the fictitious concept of race to not matter in America, then you have to make race not matter.


But this isn't about ethnicity, it's about fairness. What I'm saying is, we have here good statistical evidence that a certain sort of background (and I don't think anyone here equates that background with a specific hue of epidermis) gives a person born into that background an enormous advantage in a very crucial phase of life. What's the difference between saying someone born into a certain socio-cultural group has advantages over everyone else, and saying someone born into a very wealthy family has advantages over everyone else?

Ethnicity is conceptual, but that doesn't make it fictitious any more than money is fictitious. Money has a real world impact and I think most here wouldn't say Silver Spoon Sam should be judged on a level playing field against Disadvantaged Dan. That's not to say that Sam didn't "earn" or work for his much better grades, extracurriculars and SATs than Dan. But we know that from the moment of conception it'd be easy money to bet that Sam would have done better than Dan. And while we can recognize that equality of outcome may never come to pass, equality of opportunity is something most of us believe in. So to the extent that Dan's outcome could be predicted from birth it hardly seems fair to just tell him to suck it up and be born into a better situation next time

Beyond that, you seem to be talking as if these were decisions made by some omnipotent god who could change our entire society in any way he wished. They're not. They're made by college boards who are faced with society as it does exist, and for them to simply allow certain advantaged groups to steamroll everyone else just magnifies and solidifies those inherited advantages at the expense of a better, fairer society
posted by crayz at 6:54 AM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like the Boston Globe also wrote this article 4 & 1/2 years ago. "Victim of success?" (November, 2006)

And Espenshade's research once again appears. It's an article about the guy who is suing Princeton.
The chief finding, according to the authors, was that ending all admissions preferences -- for athletes, legacy kids, and minorities -- would cut the number of black students at elite colleges by two-thirds, and Hispanic enrollment by one-half. Ending just legacy and athletic preferences, meanwhile -- something often proposed by egalitarians -- would, on its own, not help black and Hispanic students much.

But Li's complaint draws attention to other aspects of the study: Asian-American students faced by far the lowest admissions rates of any ethnic group (17.6 percent, compared with 23.8 percent for whites, 33.7 percent for blacks, and 26.8 percent for Hispanics). What's more, contrary to the Office of Civil Rights report from 1990, legacy and athletic preferences trimmed Asian-American enrollment by only a few percentage points. But if preferences based on race, legacy status, and athletic talent were all done away with, Asian-American enrollment would jump 40 percent (while white enrollment would drop by 1 percent). To Li, it seems Asian-Americans alone bear the burden of affirmative action.

Espenshade declined to answer questions about the study, saying via e-mail that he only wished to state "the obvious: academic merit is not the only kind of merit that elite college admission officers consider in making admission decisions."
More on Espenshade's research into education and social inequality. This "new Manhattan Project" is particularly interesting.
posted by cashman at 7:14 AM on April 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


VikingSword and others - again, its an aptitude test, not a subject test. If the test were well written the mean score of any population would be equal to the mean score of the entire population. It doesn't matter how you slice it - race, income, family status, location - in a perfect world they should all have the same mean. Since they do not - again either the test is flawed - or innate aptitude varies by cohort. And in that case you should send Charles Murray your cv.

And its pretty fucking rich being called a racist by someone attempting to explain differences in scores on aptitude tests as being based on "cultural differences"
posted by JPD at 8:08 AM on April 23, 2011


And its pretty fucking rich being called a racist by someone attempting to explain differences in scores on aptitude tests as being based on "cultural differences"
What the fuck?

It's an aptitude test in the sense that it doesn't measure specific content knowledge and is instead intended to predict first-year college grades. Nobody pretends it measures innate aptitude. That claim would be silly, given that students can raise their scores substantially by preparing for the test.
posted by craichead at 8:17 AM on April 23, 2011


It's not supposed to be about skin color, it's supposed to be about talent.


That's the point. You can't tell if that talent is being hidden away by a million different things that are going on in a child's upbringing. That's what standardized tests are supposed to be there for - to help reveal that lost talent so that the can be brought into a university and have that talent nurtured.

For reasons that are quite complicated we've reduced this issue to race, which is quite sloppy - when in reality data shows its many many factors, the largest of which are family wealth and parental educational attainment - but for not entirely fair, nor entirely misguided reasons universities are loathe to frame this in a way that basically says "we have to discriminate against people like our alumni." They would rather frame it in a way that appeals to the more obviously flawed ways in which the US has dealt with race. Its almost easier for people to accept that white people have fucked over non-whites then it is for people to accept that the wealthy have kept down the poor.
posted by JPD at 8:19 AM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


That claim would be silly, given that students can raise their scores substantially by preparing for the test.

I know that's what I said. That's the point. My point was if a cohort scores higher then similar cohorts then the assumption has to be they were better prepared, so its reasonable to adjust the scores downward. VikingSword then swung around trying to claim that there were cultural reasons for the higher scores so it wasn't reasonable to adjust them downward.
posted by JPD at 8:23 AM on April 23, 2011


to be clear - he claimed that there was that something about the monolithic "Asian Culture" which led to greater innate aptitude for that cohort, rather than whatever that characteristic was really just meant that group was better equipped to do well on the exam.
posted by JPD at 8:28 AM on April 23, 2011


There's nothing intrinsic to the violin and piano which discourages creativity. There's nothing intrinsic to the guitar or saxophone which encourages wild improvisation either. Those are just cultural factors. Piano and violin are simply regarded as "respectable" instruments compared to guitar and sax.

I agree entirely about the creativity point, but there's another lingering issue with pianos and violins. As far as admissions are concerned, being 5th best at violin is not as valuable as being 1st in sax. It's a better long-term strategy, if we're looking at musical mastery as a means to an end, to pick a less "respectable" instrument, as you will have fewer competitors.

I would love to see numbers on the instruments that Asian-American high school students play versus the numbers that everyone else plays. How how does the stereotype about violins and pianos square with reality? I mean, obviously it's false that all Asians play just one or the other, but what are the numbers on it?

I'm barely even concerned about stereotypes anymore. I just want some chart-porn of what instruments high school students play.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sincerely hope that this is not the case, but if it isn't, I feel I should tell you that a good number of people here, myself included, don't have the faintest idea what you are trying to get at or how you are trying to go about demonstrating it, because what you have said so far, intentionally or not, just sounds like (7).

I am interested in the questions I asked in this post:

Why am I doing this? Because the best I have to go on is my experience, which as I admitted, is quite limited, so the proper course of action is to make inquiries to others.
posted by blargerz at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2011


I would love to see numbers on the instruments that Asian-American high school students play versus the numbers that everyone else plays. How how does the stereotype about violins and pianos square with reality? I mean, obviously it's false that all Asians play just one or the other, but what are the numbers on it?

I'm barely even concerned about stereotypes anymore. I just want some chart-porn of what instruments high school students play.


That is exactly what I was driving at with this post. I have been trying to get someone with a very large east asian and non-east asian social network to make a good faith stab at it, merely for the sake of discussion, to no success.
posted by blargerz at 9:32 AM on April 23, 2011


This thread opens up two issues for me:

One, the problematic idea that there is this definable, easily-ranked thing called "merit" when it comes to college admissions. Standardized tests and GPAs have their own problems as metrics go, but there is nonetheless general agreement that certain test scores and grade rankings indicate being either "Ivy"-bound or not.

(By the way, check out this article on the fundamental unfairness of comparing GPAs.)

But what happens to our ability to sort these people once everyone's numbers and class activities become comparable? Doesn't this kerfuffle about "too many Asian girls with violins" show how difficult and subjective these decisions are in any event, even if we're not talking about racism? What does it even mean to have the same test scores and GPA as anyone else who was admitted?

(Take the case of the kid from Yale who's suing Princeton for discrimination. Could a mirror universe version of him from Princeton sue Yale for having not admitted him? Could they both prevail?)

Doesn't this debate about "merit" also go to the very idea of what admissions means as far as the college's mission to have the student body it wants? Is student diversity something you have because it's fair to society, something you have because it's good for otherwise disadvantaged minorities, something you have because diversity itself is good for the students to have, something else, or what combination thereof?

Doesn't this idea of "merit" sometimes become not even about the applicant's "merit" as a person, about the applicant's "merit" as part of an engineered group of people known as the incoming class?

...

Two, the other thing that looms for me is this idea that the Ivies are the tippy-top of academic achievement. There are good schools and weaker schools, good programs and weaker programs, but no one can say with a straight face that the Ivies contain all the best programs and all other programs at other schools are inferior. How much of this affection for the Ivies comes from a place of not simply wanting a good education and networking base for students, but also from a place of earning a status symbol, a status symbol steeped in the idea of white, Northeastern privilege, even though a non-Ivy education would be every bit as valuable for most people?

I mean, hell, if your next step is grad school, wouldn't it be just as wise a proposition - if not wiser - to go to a more "normal" school and then gun your way to the top of the class?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:53 AM on April 23, 2011


I don't know of any test in existence that measures "aptitude". The SAT's may claim to, but they were never tested for validity. IQ tests measure cognitive development - that is, where is this child in relation to other children of the same age.

I don't even know that we can define "aptitude" - aptitude at what? if it means finding something easy, I have a high aptitude for undergraduate academic tasks, and a lower aptitude for graduate level tasks. I have no aptitude for statistics or higher level maths, while having a high aptitude for basic arithmetic.

The problem is scarcity and inequality. if where you went to university really didn't matter, no one would be talking about this. But as long as we spuriously justify inequality by claiming to have a "fair" system of social mobility, we will keep having stupid fights over university admissions.
posted by jb at 10:09 AM on April 23, 2011


People interested in the problems of IQ testing should read The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:14 AM on April 23, 2011


I know I'm kind of late to the discussion, but there's another issue here that I'm surprised no one has brought up yet. I've read this thread with great interest, and a notable characteristic of many of the comments here is that they seem to treat "getting into college" as an end in itself. Granted, it's obviously a huge step toward the future, but as a lot of us should know, just "getting in" whether it's because of your race or your academic merit or your parents' background is hardly the end of the learning and future-preparation process.

With this in mind, I have to wonder whether admitting less-qualified (however you want to qualify that) candidates over more-qualified ones is actually a fair, just thing to do to the less-qualified candidate. For instance, we have two high school seniors, Johnny White Kid and Bobby Asian-American Kid, both applying to, say, Princeton. Johnny, even though his test scores, extracurriculars, essays etc aren't as strong as Bobby's, gets admitted for the sake of "diversity" whereas Bobby gets turned away and ends up going to State U. Johnny traipses proudly off to Freshman Orientation, convinced he's going to set the world on fire. After all, experience has shown him that he's "qualified" to get pretty much whatever he wants, right?

Fast-forward to, say, the middle of Johnny's second semester at Princeton. He's in serious danger of failing out - he just wasn't prepared for the level of academic rigor that he encounters. He's already changed majors, he's feeling the heat from his family, he's seriously starting to doubt himself in any number of ways. Eventually, Johnny comes to the conclusion that he can't return for his sophomore year.

Now, we have a kid who's just spent (more probably, wasted) a rather immense sum of money, is probably in debt, and whose self-confidence has just taken a nose-dive, all due to him being "sold" a situation that he just wasn't going to thrive in, whereas Bobby may very well have thrived and succeeded in the same environment.

I hope i"m expressing this clearly so far. I don't mean to say it's a foregone conclusion that kids with "lower" qualifications are automatically destined to fail at an Ivy. But what if tests, extracurriculars, etc actually ARE a somewhat decent predictor of collegiate success? What if, rather than a "boost", these prestigious universities are actually (happily) taking these kids' money with the expectation that they won't really cut it? I mean, it's not like tuition, room, board, etc are refundable if you can't make to graduation. How many of these "affirmative action" kids of any race would have really thrived and succeeded at a middle-of -the-road state school, but ended up crashing and burning at an Ivy or comparable institution that they just weren't equipped to handle?

I truly do not know what the answer is to this. And again, I am not suggesting that any college admissions criteria is an indisputable predictor of success, for anyone. I do think this probably has more to do with the business of higher ed rather than a purely racial/ethnic issue, but it is still a factor that I think needs to be considered to thoroughly evaluate whether or not "diverse" admissions practices are really benefiting those whom they claim to benefit.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 10:59 AM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


For one thing, it takes considerable effort to fail out of an Ivy League school. Something catastrophic or willful would have to happen for you to flunk out.

More importantly, there is no reason to suspect that someone with somewhat lower SATs/GPA/etc. is any more likely to run afoul of personal problems, a mental condition, or some other failworthy obstacle than anyone with higher numbers, especially since these numbers are so, so, so, so, so close in these admissions pools. I assure you that they are not letting in white D-students over Asian A-students.

in b4 Bush hurf durf (btw Kerry's GPA was lower durf hurf)
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:10 AM on April 23, 2011


Fast-forward to, say, the middle of Johnny's second semester at Princeton. He's in serious danger of failing out - he just wasn't prepared for the level of academic rigor that he encounters. He's already changed majors, he's feeling the heat from his family, he's seriously starting to doubt himself in any number of ways. Eventually, Johnny comes to the conclusion that he can't return for his sophomore year.
This seriously doesn't happen. The graduation rate at Princeton is like 97%. Princeton could fill its class ten times over with students who can handle the work. They're choosing between highly-qualified applicants, all of whom would probably thrive at Princeton.
posted by craichead at 11:13 AM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, no, I wasn't really using what D-students as an example, and I suppose I wasn't all that clear about that. And as far as failing out of ANY school, really, I agree that it takes some doing (or rather, just an inordinate amount of NOT doing, or some catastrophic event). Further, I am fully aware than sheer aptitude, or lack there of, is far from the ONLY reason a student would leave school.

However, it appears I may have been way off re retention/graduation rates in the Ivy League. I stand corrected...in fact, I think I may have been applying "regular school" (for lack of an immediately better term) standards to the wrong institutions, and will probably cause a derail into "money-hungry universities" territory if I continue here. Hence, I shall just chalk it up to "learned something new today" and go for a walk.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:20 AM on April 23, 2011


But this isn't about ethnicity, it's about fairness.

When you're defining fairness by ethnicity, of course it's about ethnicity.
posted by Malor at 11:48 AM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know that's what I said. That's the point. My point was if a cohort scores higher then similar cohorts then the assumption has to be they were better prepared, so its reasonable to adjust the scores downward. VikingSword then swung around trying to claim that there were cultural reasons for the higher scores so it wasn't reasonable to adjust them downward.

to be clear - he claimed that there was that something about the monolithic "Asian Culture" which led to greater innate aptitude for that cohort, rather than whatever that characteristic was really just meant that group was better equipped to do well on the exam.


At the point where someone not merely misrepresents but outright invents things out of whole cloth - i.e. lies - ('monolithic "Asian Culture"'), this is no longer arguing in good faith, it's calumny, and as such not worthy of a response. I no longer engage such people. Anyone interested in who said what, can simply read my exchange with JPD - it's all in this thread.
posted by VikingSword at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2011


Coached? It couldn't be they were hard workers on their own? Or that their cultural background was such that they and their peers were steeped in certain areas of intellectual pursuit, without a parental Svengali in the background? One poster here intimated as much from his observations going to school in Asia - the kids simply had different interests, compared to the American kids there.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2011


My point being, that if Asian kids tend to - for cultural reasons - pursue more nerdy interests, it may develop intellectual skills that translate to better SAT scores. That's all that's necessary to explain certain statistics, with no parents in the background at all. And again, that's what the poster reported as his experience in an Asian school.

I bring it up, because it's quite outside of the "only choices" you outlined. You are quite clearly wrong about your outlined choices being "the only ones".

posted by VikingSword at 1:03 PM on April 23, 2011


My point being, that if Asian kids tend to - for cultural reasons - pursue more nerdy interests, it may develop intellectual skills that translate to better SAT scores. That's all that's necessary to explain certain statistics, with no parents in the background at all.

So how exactly do these Asian kids soak up all this rigorous intellectual culture without the help of their parents?
posted by crayz at 1:13 PM on April 23, 2011


And what are you arguing with? You ascribe the advantage to cultural factors, yes? Are you seriously getting this bent out of shape because JPD thinks it's a culture of parental encouragement but you think it's a culture that lacks anti-intellectualism?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:15 PM on April 23, 2011


No. I objected to the way JPD formulated the choices as if those were the only ones. That was the context. You can perform better on tests without resorting to claims of innate ability - but then the only other choice is not simply "being coached". Because, as I pointed out, there may be other factors, which don't involve test coaching - like a supportive environment at school, and peer group dynamics and so on. To see how stupid "test coaching" is as an explanation for the over-representation of Asians at top universities, all one has to do is look at history. For example, Jews faced the same "over-representation" issue - long before any such tests were developed (like in pre-Revolutionary Russia etc.). So it clearly could not have been "test coaching" that was responsible for their overrepresentation. Your performance on tests and your intellectual development is influenced by your environment, including some elements of cultural practices. Even expectations have a role: if your cultural expectation is for your students or children to go to college, then guess what - they will end up in college in greater numbers. And so forth. Point being, again - "test coaching" is NOT the only other explanation beside innate ability and flaws in any given test (they are all flawed anyhow).
posted by VikingSword at 1:37 PM on April 23, 2011


Oh, so you're just being pedantic.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2011


Vikingsword's not being pedantic at all. Test coaching is a completely different phenomenon from, say, peer group dynamics.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2011


I think it's an overly pedantic look at what JPD is saying, which he has described using "better prepared" for instance. You can be better prepared for a test by things like supportive peers and parents. JPD has referenced wealth and parental educational attainment as factors already.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:45 PM on April 23, 2011


It's not pedantic, in that I'm trying to debunk a pernicious stereotype, which has been expressed in this very thread, repeatedly: that of Asian students doing well, only because they have extremely abusive Tiger Mother parents (one poster called it child abuse) who in effect whip them into narrow areas of overperformcance allowing them to pass tests, in effect not only gaming the system, but also beating any creativity out of them. I object to that as a stereotype. And therefore it is important to point out that "test coaching" is not the only explanation for over-representation.
posted by VikingSword at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2011


Can we just agree on this statement: "In general, Asian students do better on exams because they are better prepared for them."

Yes, the numbers bear it out. So, we are debating how they are prepared and why they are being prepared better than other groups.

You only differ on the nature of the coaching when you don't get overly pedantic about it.

JPD says "coach", you phrase it as "that perhaps there are cultural subgroups in the Asian population, which emphasize factors which then translate into academic success."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:02 PM on April 23, 2011


Yeah, JPD laid out his three factors earlier:

1)the higher scoring group is inherently smarter 2)The test itself is flawed (in a different way from how I already know it doesn't correlate well with academic success in a tertiary educational environment 3)The higher scoring cohort is being coached to succeed at a greater rater than my control group.

These three factors do not allow for something like peer group dynamics, viz. when all of your peers are working to get into tippy-top schools, then you'll work to keep up with the Joneses.

Inherent smartness is a straw man no one is going to argue. A flawed test is a given no one is going to argue against.

Having coaching be the only other enumerated factor takes away the agency of the test-taker, because it implies that the only way someone could perform better, all "inherent smart[ness]" being equal, would be for some third party, a coach, to teach the test-taker. This takes away the agency of the test-taker and ignores other, probably more relevant factors.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2011


Several non-hereditarians like Flynn ("What is intelligence?") and Nisbett ("Intelligence and how to get it") try to make the point that it is mostly, or wholly, environment and parenting, orsocialization in early years, which make a difference to how well a child does in IQ tests and school - both admittedly not the only measures of "intelligence", but fair indicators of future occupational status and earnings.

Flynn points out in his book that the East Asian Americans tested as of 1966 (a group of around 2000 Chinese and Japanese) were NOT above average in IQ compared to whites; in fact, their IQ scores *underpredicted* their later success by a large margin. They were also not significantly different in terms of socioeconomic status. So much so that to achieve what they did in terms of occupation & income, their expected IQ would be 120. But this was in a group with an average IQ of 100. The interesting thing came later with the next generation (~1996) where their children turned out to have IQs of 2-3 points above the average. The rise in wealth and entry into professional and managerial classes literally raised their children's IQ.

Nisbett and Flynn attribute this to other factors like motivation, personality, and importantly, parenting style. A comparison of middle-class/lower-class (unfortunately, often divided along racial lines) parenting of young children showed a more authoritative style for the working class or poor and much less interaction and socialization with the child (predictably - when you're in a single parent household or working several jobs you won't have so much time to read, talk, or interact with your child in intellectually stimulating ways) compared to the middle class. What these authors think is that these early years have a decisive impact in handicapping poor children in school, and they only fall back further every year. (Black-white IQ difference at kindergarten: 3 points; black kids fall back an average of 0.6 points every year. By the time they are 18, they are around 13-14 points behind their white peers).

This sounds suspiciously like "Poor people parenting: Ur doing it wrong LOL" but they make very valid points, backed up with statistics, regarding the direct relationship between heavy parental involvement, especially at a young age, and the child's intellectual development.
posted by monocot at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, the lumping-together of all Asians is problematic. For example, only 7% of Hmong Americans a bachelor's degree or higher. (Incidentally, this also means that penalizing all Asians for their relative academic success as a "group" is perhaps most hurtful to those from struggling ethnic groups within that larger group.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I accidentally a whole verb in that previous post, but you my drift.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:11 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if the very stereotypes we are discussing create social pressure from the wider Anglo-American culture that leads to greater academic performance among students of East Asian descent.

Also:

making your kid study piano for an hour a day:child abuse::telling your kid to "walk off" a concussion on the gridiron:_______

a) not prioritizing academics over all else
b) good Christian parenting
c) doggone American sticktoitiveness
d) what
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:13 PM on April 23, 2011


I think others have already pointed this out, or perhaps it's just common sense, but I think we all understand that cultures are not monolithic, that there are vast differences between Asians themselves along virtually every axis, and that while a given cultural practice may be advantageous in one circumstance, it might be irrelevant or actually a negative in a different environment. Some immigrant groups entering the U.S., were perhaps a subgroup of a larger culture (like, a simple example: Christian Arab immigrants were overrepresented vs Muslim Arab immigrants compared to the respective proportions in their countries of origin etc.), so simply saying Culture X is necessarily fraught with complexities. But it's impossible to keep making these qualifications, unless we want every post to look like 17 pages of lawyerly documents which is simply not practical in this format - so we assume some degree of good faith reading, so that when someone says "Asian culture" we assume that s/he is encompassing all this complexity rather than assuming they mean to say that there's such a thing as a "Asian cultural monolith".
posted by VikingSword at 2:22 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Inherent smartness is a straw man no one is going to argue

Having coaching be the only other enumerated factor takes away the agency of the test-taker, because it implies that the only way someone could perform better, all "inherent smart[ness]" being equal, would be for some third party, a coach, to teach the test-taker.

So, we should be open to the possibility that third parties are not responsible for the general Asian academic success, it's all just exceptional individuals? Oh wait, no one will argue that.

No, what we are doing is identifying the third parties responsible. In the case of children in the US it's hard to argue it's all about Asian culture when our mass culture is very homogenized. You just have to take the parents in to account at some point since they are, in general, closer to a more distinct culture and the biggest influence on the kids.

JPD isn't a racist trader in pernicious stereotypes who thinks Asian kids are demon spawn for thinking this way. If you want to attribute it to something else about Asian culture, fine, but it will still be a stereotype.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:23 PM on April 23, 2011


Well this thread became an airline crash into a train wreck caused by an oil spill washed ashore by a tsunami that melted down a nuclear reactor.

I will reboot this by restating the Horribly Offensive Paragraph in bullet points that hopefully will demonstrate the irrelevancy of much of this discussion, and the inoffensiveness of the original paragraph:

1. There is an Asian cultural artifact which is distinct but not universal, of "tiger parenting" which is to say raising kids with the rigid expectation that they owe their parents everything and must work, work, work, in whatever way and toward whatever goal the parent sets, and that anything less than perfection is unworthy of love.

I regard this point as proven. The Tiger Mother book and the whole Tiger Mother thread here, which I already linked, demonstrates it. It may be a small minority of Asians but it distinctly and demonstrably exists. It is also cross-(Asian)-cultural; I personally know of Japanese people raised this way, and the Tiger Mother thread featured many comments by Chinese people who were so parented. And as I've said I was raised this way, though less ruthlessly and with some discrepancies, since my parents were Southern Baptist.

2. Tiger Parenting is at least a bit more common in Asian culture than it is in Western culture. Again, the Tiger Mom book itself and the comments in the MeFi thread demonstrate this. I would suspect this has to do with Confucianism in China and with Shinto in Japan. Hate each other as much as they often do, the Eastern cultures are still more closely linked to one another than they are to European cultures.

3. There is an apparently unrelated simple love for knowledge and learning which exists simply because it is not discouraged in the way it is in some parts of the US in places like Taiwan, and probably in China and Japan too. But these kids who are focusing on general knowledge can't hope to compete with kids who are studying the admissions exams unless they are just supernaturally good. They are what you call fucked by the system.

4. Tiger Parent kids are like finely honed missiles aimed at college admission offices. If work in such an office, you see a ridiculously high number of kids who meet your bar but who were raised according to the exact same formula. You would probably prefer to find the kids I mentioned in #3, but they haven't even applied because yo, someone told them you discriminate against them already and even if they did apply, you'd discriminate against them because of their tiger parented peers doing better on all the tests.

Finally, I am not advancing a solution to this problem because I don't think it is a problem that can be solved; as with the coupon thread, it has to be said that if you make a system of any sort people will try to game it. That they will game it by brainwashing their children into being the best possible guardians of them in old age makes me want to vomit but the sad fact is my own parents tried it, and while we have a general idea in the US that it's not nice in other cultures it's considered a normal thing to do. Given that it creates human missiles aimed precisely at college admission systems if some culture has even a small excess of such parents, those high-graders are going to see what looks like a monolithic culture they don't like. What they see won't be real or representative, but they will act on it.

As for how they should act on it, I would say if I was working in a college admissions office I would act on it by quitting, because I don't think the problem can be solved in a way that is fair to anybody.
posted by localroger at 3:26 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, you're making a fool of yourself. I feel for you, because it seems partly to come from a place of trauma about your own upbringing, but you really need to work through that instead of spewing stupid shit about other people on the internet.
posted by craichead at 3:38 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I value localroger's contributions to the thread as I'm sure a lot of other people have as well. If you can't/don't want to substantively reply could you just ignore him?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:01 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you can't/don't want to substantively reply could you just ignore him?
I'm not sure how to substantively reply to a (presumably) non-Asian person informing us all how Asian people are, other than to point out that it's really problematic. And ignoring it seems like a not-great response, because it could be taken as tacit approval.
posted by craichead at 4:11 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how to substantively reply to a (presumably) non-Asian person informing us all how Asian people are, other than to point out that it's really problematic.

I'm not sure how to substantively reply to yet another race card thrown in this thread, because I thought the deck was empty by now. Can we just start treating people a tiny bit of good faith, FFS?
posted by crayz at 4:16 PM on April 23, 2011


I started looking at Espenshade's other research and books. Here's a bit about the book (referenced in the OP), and then check out some detailed critiques over on Amazon. The last one in particular, has quotes and data from the book.

yet another race card thrown

Didja getcha race card?
posted by cashman at 4:20 PM on April 23, 2011


I am an actual real live Asian person. When some white dude wants to talk about how I must clearly be (ethnic stereotype), and everybody is all 'Yeah, totally, because I also know Asian people who I enjoy characterizing as an ethnic stereotype!' this makes me unhappy. Is this one hundred percent clear? Or is this some sort of 'race card' thing? Because let me tell you, I am pretty damn expert at being an Asian person. I've been doing it all my life.
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:24 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure how to substantively reply to a (presumably) non-Asian person informing us all how Asian people are, other than to point out that it's really problematic. And ignoring it seems like a not-great response, because it could be taken as tacit approval.

localroger specifically referred to "a small minority of Asians."

We are talking about a general trend of academic success among a demographic group, if we can't talk in general terms about the characteristics of the group we can't have the conversation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:28 PM on April 23, 2011


This article really infuriate me.

United States is still more racially conscious than I wanted it be. Where is Dr.King's ideal that a person "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Why is there there so much emphasis on racial diversity? Do they really think that a Chinese American from New York City will the same as Chinese American from California? Or that middle class African American are the same as African American from inner city. America is still so damn crazy about race. Why can't college emphasis more on socio-economic diversity?

Who the hell are the Asian in the article?

Are they fourth generation Japanese American from California? Hmong from Minnesota? Desi? Or I do have to assume that when they say Asian they really meant Chinese?

Were all Chinese in America came from same background?

Do people really think all Chinese have parents like the "Tiger Mom"? Do you really think all Chinese kids in America are fortunate enough have wealthy middle class parents that force them to play piano or are educated enough to know how to navigate American college application process?

What about all those Chinese kids that were unfortunate enough to born to poor parents? What if instead forcing to play piano, their parents force them to serve you damn egg roll and fried rice. What if they want to play after school sport or extracurricular activities to spiff up their college application? That's too bad, they have to work after school to serve you damn egg roll and fried rice remember? Do they also have suffer the same racial quote set by college in the interest of "diversity"?

Among the Fujianese Chinese community which I am part of. It was an obstacle to even go to college. Most of our parents and relatives are poorly educated with only middle school or high school education, they know nothing about the American educational system. College application process was DIY with no input from parents. Don't know how to fill out FAFSA? Good luck you are on your own. You don't know what to major? Good luck you're on your own. You want to go to college? People laugh in your face, because they think education is useless.

Will all those Fujianese kids be lumped together with all other Asian kids when applying for college?

It was stupid to lump all Chinese kids into one group and it was even dumber to lump all Chinese, Hmong, Cambodian, Japanese, Korean and Indian from different background into one monolith "Asian" group.

To people who think Tiger Parent is more common in Chinese culture, that is bullshit. If that's true why are there still so many poorly educated people in China? Do you know what's most common argument among educated Chinese in China against democracy in China? They think most people in China are still too poorly educated to make important political decisions.
posted by Carius at 4:32 PM on April 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Carius, why do you think it is that Asian Americans, when lumped together, in general tend to do better academically than other groups?

As for why the US is race obsessed, it's because of a long and deep history of racism and oppression that is still present to this day. It leads to ridiculous outcomes but it's not going to be untangled any time soon.

The lumping does suck, the success of some students determines that others have a harder time because of some nebulous shared characteristic. It's not about punishing anyone, but about helping certain groups we know still carry a disadvantage because of skin color.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:41 PM on April 23, 2011


I don't think you can point to a thread about how some Asians parent their children as proof that this parenting style is an Asian cultural artifact. You acknowledge yourself that this parenting style is used by non-Asians; if there were a similar thread about parenting styles in other cultures, might we see a similar set of stories from non-Asians that match your own?

It's far more reasonable to consider this "Tiger Parenting 5-Missile Strike" style as an outgrowth of resource and family achievement, without identifying it solely as an Asian motif. I went to a wealthy prep school with very few Asians, and many of the kids there felt the same pressures to succeed and excel, imbued by their parents and their society. Not getting into an Ivy was a mark of failure or at least underachievement for many of them, as was getting a B, not being elected student body president, not being on the honor roll, etc. They would likely recognize this "Tiger Parenting", but they wouldn't call it that; they'd just call it parenting.

It makes about as much sense to talk about how "Asians" do things as it does to talk about how "Africans" do things. India, China, and Japan, just to name three, are so filled with variety of culture that it barely even makes sense to talk about how all Indians, Chinese, or Japanese people do things. That's the basic objection.

Incidentally, if you were trying to restate the paragraph to be inoffensive, I don't think you did a very good job:

That they will game it by brainwashing their children into being the best possible guardians of them in old age makes me want to vomit but the sad fact is my own parents tried it, and while we have a general idea in the US that it's not nice in other cultures it's considered a normal thing to do.

I'm very sorry your parents wounded you. I don't see why you have to project your damage onto an artificial monolith of your own construction.
posted by Errant at 4:42 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It makes about as much sense to talk about how "Asians" do things as it does to talk about how "Africans" do things.

Or any other large group, but we do it all the time when there are significant trends.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:56 PM on April 23, 2011


It makes about as much sense to talk about how "Asians" do things as it does to talk about how "Africans" do things

Which is why any time someone uses the term "African American" on MeFi everyone loses their shit and loudly proclaims how such an absurd fictitious constructed monolith of a term simply has no value whatsoever and is too offensive and racist to be used to describe anything at all about the world in which we live at all, and so then we all just go "oh yeah race doesn't exist" and go back to living in our perfect colorblind world
posted by crayz at 4:56 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I'm done
posted by crayz at 4:57 PM on April 23, 2011


America's race obsession comes at the expense of its class denial and ignorance of ethnic differences. It's good that Americans are concerned about race and implement policies intended to assist those who are disadvantaged, but things get messy when these policies butt up against other problems that these programs were not designed to address, or when these policies have other unintended effects.

Having affirmative action policies reflect differences in socioeconomic status, as opposed to just race as defined by those pesky checkboxes, would help, although obviously this isn't a simple problem.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:59 PM on April 23, 2011


This conversation has gone in directions I'm no longer interested in, but before it's too late, let's be clear:

The SAT is not an "aptitude test," and even the College Board hasn't called it that since 1990. Since 1993, the letters SAT haven't stood for anything.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:00 PM on April 23, 2011


localroger specifically referred to "a small minority of Asians."
And then he implied that they're a large majority of the Asian kids who get into elite colleges. As in:
Tiger Parent kids are like finely honed missiles aimed at college admission offices. If work in such an office, you see a ridiculously high number of kids who meet your bar but who were raised according to the exact same formula. You would probably prefer to find the kids I mentioned in #3, but they haven't even applied because yo, someone told them you discriminate against them already and even if they did apply, you'd discriminate against them because of their tiger parented peers doing better on all the tests.
So basically, we can apply this pernicious stereotype to any high-achieving Asian person, because by definition an Asian person who wasn't a finely-honed missile wouldn't be able to compete with the tiger kiddies. It's supposedly a small percentage of Asian people, but if you happen to meet an Asian person who went to Yale, you can safely assume he or she is a victim of child abuse. It's proven by the Tiger Mother book.
posted by craichead at 5:01 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then he implied that they're (tiger parented kids) a large majority of the Asian kids who get into elite colleges.

I think he would say the same of the white kids, unless I am misreading him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:16 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge, thank you for the support. But I am outta here. A few more threads like this and I will be outta metafilter too. But that remains to be seen. Every time I get that idea MeFi serves up something that actually works. This thread, however, is not one of those things.
posted by localroger at 5:33 PM on April 23, 2011


Carius, why do you think it is that Asian Americans, when lumped together, in general tend to do better academically than other groups?

Your guess is as good as mine. You still need to remember Laotians and Cambodian still have shockingly low 5% college degree attainment.

I can only speak from my own experience. I went to college because I don't want to serve you egg roll and fried rice for rest of my life. Education is the ticket for me to get out of restaurant business.
posted by Carius at 5:37 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, look, crayz, the question of why do Asian-Americans appear to gain college admittance disproportionately to their population segment is interesting, and there's been a lot of discussion here unpacking and analyzing that question. That is a totally different question than why do all these Asians parent like this, but the latter appears to have become somewhat conflated with the former. I do not think all these Asians parent like this, in part because I don't believe there's a useful generalization to make about such a broad group as Asian parents. The set of Asian-American college matriculants is much smaller, and so while we should still be careful about generalizing too freely, it may be that there are useful generalities to ascertain about that smaller group which may share more characteristics internally than the too-large group. I hope that clears up why I find some of these generalizations problematic and not other ones.
posted by Errant at 5:56 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most people in America get an education for the same reasons, McDonald's or fried rice, it's all the same.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:59 PM on April 23, 2011


This conversation puzzles me.

It's true that our education system puts an emphasis on memorization rather than creativity or problem solving. Isn't this a problem with the education system in general rather than Asians?

It's true that some parents push their kids to do well academically. Why is it only a problem when parents of Asian kids do this?
posted by nangar at 11:15 PM on April 23, 2011


Racism, nangar. The fact that it even matters to anyone, to the point of categorizing some students as being 'different' (Asian), and then artificially raising the bar to keep them out, is racism.

It's racism when it's called "Affirmative Action", too.
posted by Malor at 12:26 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's racism when it's called "Affirmative Action", too.

posted by cashman at 8:41 AM on April 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yikes, what a poorly written article on an actually interesting topic!

First of all, no mention of the role of things like family legacy in admissions at private schools? Athletics? All of the other aspects considered in student applications other than race, SAT, AP and class ranking? The way the article was written, the author seems to imply that all things being equal, this is who is admitted. But that's not how college admissions work, right? Does that mean asian students aren't being discriminated against? I have no idea based on the evidence presented. I kept reading hoping this would been examined.

There is mention of the UC system and I should look for the numbers, but as I recall when they got rid of race-based admissions, the percentage of white students remained essentially the same. The percentage of hispanic, black and native students decreased. And as mentioned, the percentage of asian students increased. A few years ago, I remember when UCLA had the lowest number of first year black students in forever. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it was less than 100 students in a class of thousands. And here we get to another part of the article I was seriously not cool with--there was this subtle implication that other minorities with lower test scores (ie less worthy?) were "taking" spots away from the asian applicants. Hey, let's unpack what those score measure! Let's unpack who even gets to take AP courses!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:20 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without using offensive cultural stereotypes, explain why it is that in general Asians have greater academic success than other groups.

It is, believe it or not, just one huge coincidence.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:11 PM on April 24, 2011


Assuming what mandymanwasregistered says is correct, then the race-blind admissions program in the UC system illustrates something important: affirmative action programs are designed to promote diversity by increasing the admission rate of members of academically disadvantaged races. AA programs recognize that many students are not in environments where they can compete fairly with those who have the privilege and/or the peer group dynamics and/or all that other "stuff" that goes into getting higher test scores, etc. AA programs seek to level the playing field among these various groups.

In that way, it makes perfect sense that members of an ethnic group that, on average, as a group, performs well academically, gets "punished" when there is AA, just as angry white males complained of basically the same thing in the early 90s and thereabouts, right or wrong, for better and for worse.

What's interesting here is that these gripes sound a little strange coming from voices within an ethnic minority. Unlike the Jewish quota system from last century, the programs ostensibly holding these students back come from generally progressive roots, not conservative roots.

The question we have to ask ourselves now is, is the current result basically what we want - groups that are, on average, academically weaker as far as numbers are concerned, get a boost, whereas groups that are, on average, academically stronger as far as numbers are concerned, have to compete more amongst themselves? To what extent can we keep the good aspects of AA while changing those aspects that are problematic?

Also, to what extent does AA in its current incarnation simply repeat the same injury, except in a disguised form, such as how Hmong-Americans are hurt by the relative success of other ethnic groups (such as middle-class Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans), or how African-Americans descended from slaves are hurt by the relative success of other ethnic groups (such as children of middle-class Caribbean and African immigrants)?

Doesn't this cordoning-off by race in some ways repeat the fundamental problem - that some people are raised in environments that inhibit academic success, and that most people in those environments will not escape unless role models within that community can be given a boost to succeed?
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:57 PM on April 24, 2011


A 1-hour fix for the racial achievement gap?
posted by VikingSword at 6:21 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It absolutely amazes me, cashman, how people can look at the artificial barriers being raised to Asians, and call it what it is, racism, and then look at artificial barriers being raised to whites, and insist in very loud terms that it's not racism.

Racism is making irrelevant decisions based on skin color. It IS this. Always. Forever. The cure to racism is not more racism, it's going after the REAL causes of the problems.

Whites are clearly not failing in school because they are white. This is obviously the case, BUT THEY ARE FAILING TO COMPETE ANYWAY. Why is so hard to admit that blacks are also not failing because they are black?

It's not skin color. I see only three reasonable explanations: genetics, prejudice preventing some groups from getting access to the resources they need, and culture. Since we know on a genetic basis that there is no such thing as race, that you simply can't make very many genetic predictions about a person based on the melanin in their skin, that's ruled out. And it's pretty obvious that whites aren't being denied access to needed resources, but they're failing to compete anyway. So culture is pretty much the only explanation left.

And then half this entire thread is people insisting that culture doesn't exist as a force, and that you can't make any judgements about groups of people as a whole, while the Asians are clearly doing much better than other groups. It's not skin color, and it's not racism, so it HAS to be culture. But it's so non-politically-correct to acknowledge that different child-rearing habits have enormous impact on children, and that child-rearing habits run in cultures, that it seems like half the people in this thread spend 90% of their words dancing around and ultimately rejecting the simple truth that Asian parents and kids are succeeding better than any other group in the US.

Instead of saying, "Hey, they're doing something right here, what we can learn?", the system is instead handicapping the people who are doing it right, promoting incompetence in its place. They're so afraid of "being racist" that they can't actually examine real life facts in front of their noses and tackle the real problems they're revealing.

I believe that the Asian kids are succeeding because their parents are very focused on giving them the resources they need to do so; white parents, taken across a broad average, are less focused in this area, and black and Hispanic parents are least focused of all. This is not racist. It's not talking about any individual person, it's just looking across a broad swath of achievement. When the differences are showing up so strikingly as measured in race, but we know that race doesn't actually matter, then it's just analyzing very real cultural forces. And, yes, some of those cultural forces are less effective than others.

If we want highly successful students, we would be wise to study and try to emulate whatever it is that the Asian parents are doing. America is supposed to be a melting pot; we're supposed to take what works from all over the world and integrate it. It is completely stupid to fetishize cultures that aren't working as well as others just to 'promote difference'. If it's different, but it doesn't work, we shouldn't be rewarding it on a systemic level.

Doesn't mean parents aren't free to do whatever they want, but we should only be rewarding results. If white parenting isn't doing as good a job as Asian parenting, then so be it. The fact that it's Asian or white or black or freaking plaid is irrelevant; the results are what matter.

And our absolute steadfast refusal to admit that results actually count is rotting us. This is part of the anti-intellectual drive all over the US -- this is just the liberal flavor of it. The conservative flavor is clinging to their Bibles and decrying evolution and climate change; the liberal version is insisting that all cultures are equal and that we should fuck the entire system up so that it's all colored right, no matter how badly it's damaged in the process. The color of the people doing the jobs matters more than the jobs being done right, and that's about as goddamn racist and self-defeating as anything I know.

Both are just wishful thinking, instead of intelligent analysis, and both are very dangerous.
posted by Malor at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Affirmative action is a bit more complicated than that. Most school systems in the US use a tracking system where kids assigned to different types of classes based on assessments of their learning ability. Kids whose parents are upper middle class and well educated are pretty reliably assessed as having more learning ability and put into college preparatory track, most black kids and white kids from the wrong kinds of backgrounds are pretty reliably assessed as having less learning ability and are assigned to vocational or lower tracks. There are exceptions of course, but it's pretty hard to get switched to another track once you're assigned to one. Hard work and studying doesn't do much good when you're only allowed to take certain kinds of classes to begin with. Kids who are assessed as having more learning ability and placed in college track are scooted along in that track even if they don't perform well. A lot of southern school districts suddenly decided they needed to institute tracking programs once they were forced to integrate.

Affirmative action is supposed to fix racial disparities in education at the college admissions level, while at the same time we're supposed to close our eyes and pretend that systematic racial and class discrimination isn't happening at the grade school level.
posted by nangar at 9:35 PM on April 24, 2011


"Racism is making irrelevant decisions based on skin color."

Nope. Racism is (well, involves) making decisions while ignorant of and insensitive to societal and cultural biases. Simply closing your eyes or declaring racism over and that we're starting back from 0 and everyone's equal now isn't going to fix anything.

So yeah, your entire argument is invalidated by the flaw in your premise. Sorry. It was a good argument, though. Try again, maybe?
posted by Eideteker at 7:24 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I took a nice refreshing break from this thread. Ahhhhh.

Check out what happens on MeFi or just about anyplace else any time someone suggests that under-representation in something of people of color or women is problematic. One can barely get any traction with such a suggestion -- there's always a whole host of reasons why it's a ridiculous premise, and you're probably a bad person for talking about it. This is political correctness gone mad! You're saying there should be quotas for everything! This isn't racism -- this is the result of socio-economic factors, which, of course, couldn't possibly be anything but entirely independent of institutionalized racism. The people involved in maintaining the under-representation aren't rabid lynching-attending racial-pejorative slinging nutcases, and therefore there cannot possibly be any racism in play, because racism is a duality with lynching on one side and perfection on the other! You're trying to say that these nice people are rabid racist nutcases, therefore you are a bad person! And, my personal favorite, you're the racist! If you were enlightened and color-blind, you wouldn't notice the over-representation of white people.

But, then, here's something where there's a perception that white people are getting the short end of the stick. And, all of a sudden, there seems to be not only this instant, easy recognition that there's a problem, but steps are being taken to solve it.

College admissions is a complicated thing, and I don't claim to know what the perfect approach is.

But I do know that the stark discrepancy in how the discussion is framed when white people are under-represented versus all the places they're over-represented, is a really, really, glaringly obvious indicator of how the game is rigged in American society. When it's white people's problems, that's real, and the game needs to be re-rigged. When it's anyone else's problems, they should stop whining and work harder, because the game is perfectly fair already.
posted by Zed at 9:43 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


A 1-hour fix for the racial achievement gap?

The full paper
& pdf. Relevant graph.

I think to even go any further, saying "Asian" has to just stop. It's pretty meaningless ultimately.
posted by cashman at 4:27 PM on April 25, 2011


I think to even go any further, saying "Asian" has to just stop. It's pretty meaningless ultimately.

Yeah, this. It's also extremely ethnocentric on the Western end. Why are Tamil people and Korean people considered to be the same, when Mexicans and Scotch-Irish are considered to be different? Because white people drew the lines, that's why.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:02 PM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Nope. Racism is (well, involves) making decisions while ignorant of and insensitive to societal and cultural biases.

This is insufficiently deep; it does not address the real problem, which are precisely those societal and cultural biases.

If you want to actually get rid of racism, which is is ultimately making irrelevant decisions based on perception of ethnicity, no matter how you dance around and try to redefine it, then you have to get rid of racism. The first step is realizing there's a problem, which I suppose could be argued we're still in the process of doing. The second step is removing all cases you can find of racism in society. The third step is try to repair the damage.

It's easy and quick to try to repair the damage by being racist, by giving special advantages to people based on ethnicity. But this completely blows away the real goal, which is to eliminate racism. It makes ethnicity important.

If we had given special advantages to Irish Americans or Italian Americans back when they were being so terribly discriminated against, even today, everyone would know exactly how Irish or Italian they were, and they'd wear it as a badge. If you get special advantages by being Italian, then being Italian becomes important. It reinforces the fact that Italians are different from everyone else. And Italians would not be integrated properly into mainstream society.

People KNOW they're Italian, and most other people can tell, but hardly anyone cares, at least in adult life. (kids are a constant problem; racism is endemic there, because their minds haven't developed past superficialities yet.) Italian families can keep whatever traditions they like, and they're also free to adopt traditions from other cultures if they want. My best friend was Italian when I was growing up, but other than occasional passing references, it simply wasn't important in any substantial way. Yeah, he was Italian, and he talked about that sometimes, but it didn't matter, it was just interesting. It certainly wasn't going to limit his life choices.

But if we'd had Affirmative Action for Italians, that would all be different. He could never really escape being Italian, because it would be the label by which he was known. He'd get preferential treatment for college and job hires, he'd be harder to fire, and companies would tend to treat him better in general. It would be very important for him to be Italian instead of just being an American like everyone else. And everyone else would be VERY VERY aware of his status as an Italian, purely because of the focus and unfair treatment.

If you want to ACTUALLY stop racism and repair the damage caused by it, you can't get there by punishing white people for being white. It is wrong to punish children for the sins of their parents. The people who enslaved the blacks are dead, forever beyond reach, and there can never really be justice. I wish this were different, but it doesn't change anything. More racism to 'fix' the old racism doesn't help. All fruit of that tree is poison.

Rather, we should be focused on providing opportunities and training and help for people because they are poor, not because they are minorities. You can run the exact same programs, helping almost exactly the same people, simply by adjusting the criteria. Instead of helping black people because they are black, or white people because they are white, help them because they're not doing well on tests or don't have enough to eat. ANYONE who's poor should qualify for that kind of benefit, not just people with a particular shade of skin.

If you want an egalitarian, non-racist society, you have to make one. And you can't take shortcuts. Reverse racism is a shortcut. It perpetuates the fundamental problem, the differentiation of people based on skin color.

Just help everyone who's poor, and you'll automatically fix the damage caused by racism without perpetuating the racism itself. Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately poor, so helping poor people will disproportionately help them.

Focus on the facts, not the skin, and you can fix the damage without needing to be racist against anyone. We can never "restore things to how they should have been", because that's entirely imaginary; we can't rearrange society to fit some fiction of how the wealth should have been distributed for two hundred years. But we most certainly can address the problems of inequality and lack of opportunity.

It'll be a long, slow process. But it's the only way that will actually work. The way we're going now is making things worse, not better.

The very first thing we should do is repeal the War on Blacks Drugs. There is nothing screwing society up more.

On this particular issue, it's completely stupid to be discriminating against Asians because they are Asian. Just ludicrous. Rather, we should be using their disproportionately good results as a bellwether; this is telling us that either are tests are bad, or that people we label as Asian have developed a parenting method that is unusually successful. Both outcomes mean we have something to learn.

By just raising the bar on Asians, we don't learn anything. There's something very important in these results, and by just juking the stats, we're missing it! We paper over the problem without actually fixing it.

We take the easy way out, which is what America always does. We never, ever solve problems anymore -- we just slap on a coat of whitewash and call them good. Too many Asians in college? Well, just make it harder on Asians. Problem solved!

Except it isn't.
posted by Malor at 10:19 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Malor - what do you do about middle-class people of color who are racially profiled by police? Or who are harassed by their neighbors when they move to a white neighborhood? There are plenty of incidences of racism that have nothing to do with class. You can't pretend they don't exist.
posted by desjardins at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2011


If you want an egalitarian, non-racist society, you have to make one.

I agree, but I disagree that pretending race isn't ever a factor and that substituting class in its place will solve the problem. And if we did do this, will we then have to agonize endlessly over punishing people for having more money?

you can't get there by punishing white people for being white


Framing it like this assumes that a white person who doesn't get something that a nonwhite person does (a job, a place in a college, etc.) is being punished for their race. That, absent all considerations save race, they would have gotten the thing that the nonwhite person got.
posted by rtha at 7:17 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not worth it, gents. Malor has an affirmative action hobbyhorse & by Gob, he's going to ride it on home.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:20 AM on April 26, 2011


Arguing whether AA should ONLY consider race or whether AA should NEVER consider race is like arguing whether we should ONLY eat apples or we should NEVER eat apples.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:44 AM on April 26, 2011


I haven't read all but the first few comments, but when someone writes "The problem with all Asians is they lack creativity and imagination" and you click FAVORITE, what exactly is going through your head when you do that? This is an honest question.
posted by johnasdf at 8:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


PROBABLY SOMETHING REALLY CREATIVE AND IMAGINATIVE
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


when someone writes "The problem with all Asians is they lack creativity and imagination" and you click FAVORITE, what exactly is going through your head when you do that? This is an honest question.

Easy way to reference it later for whatever purpose, either in support or not in support of the statement itself, as means of flagging outlandish statements, as a means of flagging something for any variety of reasons?
posted by juiceCake at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2011


but when someone writes "The problem with all Asians is they lack creativity and imagination" and you click FAVORITE, what exactly is going through your head when you do that?

I just did it, and I can tell you, I favorited a comment containing a quote that does not actually exist on this page.
posted by cashman at 9:07 AM on April 26, 2011


I favorited a comment containing a quote that does not actually exist on this page.

Like so many statements on this page, this is patently false.
posted by ego at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is? It was a paraphrase of a comment, but posted as a quote. Do a search for The problem with all Asians is they lack creativity and imagination

And all you're going to find is these last few comments down here. Semantics, yes.
posted by cashman at 4:03 PM on April 26, 2011


all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same; they've been raised with the attitude that they owe their parents everything including career choice and absolute loyalty, they will work 27 hours a day on whatever they're told to, but a lot of creativity and originality has been beaten out of them
posted by rtha at 4:59 PM on April 26, 2011


"But success and happiness were not to be. Garish daylight shewed only squalor and alienage and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing spreading stone where the moon had hinted of loveliness and elder magic; and the throngs of people that seethed through the flume-like streets were squat, swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them, who could never mean aught to a blue-eyed man of the old folk, with the love of fair green lanes and white New England village steeples in his heart."

- He, H.P. Lovecraft
posted by ServSci at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2011


rtha: all these Asian students

I was not talking about all Asian anybody. I was talking about a distinct subgroup and people looking for racists under every bed have consistently and persistently misread it.
posted by localroger at 11:28 AM on April 27, 2011


?

In what way does that address the issue that you have lumped "all these" Asian students (who get into university) as owing their parents everything and having the creativity and originality beaten out of them? Unless you have a citation that every Asian student who gets into college has a Tiger Mother behind him or her? It's still a vast, inaccurate, and pretty nasty generalization.
posted by rtha at 12:01 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are putting the accent on the all. I intended the accent on these, the high achievers who do exist in disputable but nonzero numbers and who do hew to the stereotype. College admissions boards do not, in any meaningful sense, see all of any racial subgroup, they see the ones who have clawed their way to the top of whatever standard of measure they are using, and if a small minority of a subgroup tends to do well on those measures they will be disproportionately represented in the group the admissions board sees.

I frankly cannot see how any reasonable person would interpret what I wrote as a comment on "all Asian students." That makes absolutely no sense and the only two possibilities I see are that you really, really want to cast me as a racist and are willing to bend my words to do it, or you are really really fucking stupid.

And now I will return to my original promise to leave this thread.
posted by localroger at 12:28 PM on April 27, 2011


or you are really really fucking stupid.

That must be it. It can't possibly be that your conflation of Asian students who get into college with people who have Tiger Mothers who beat the creativity and originality out of them is at best nonsensical. You can't bring any actual data and must rely on what "everyone knows" (i.e. the stereotype). When you see a white kid who's got acceptance letters from multiple Ivies, do you assume she's had the creativity and originality beaten out of her?

But you're done here. That's good. Me too.
posted by rtha at 12:58 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


cashman: Do a search for The problem with all Asians is they lack creativity and imagination

rtha: all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same;

me: all these

rtha: you have lumped "all these" Asian students (who get into university)

me: all of the high achievers who do exist in disputable but nonzero numbers and who do hew to the stereotype.

Attention literate people: That does not say anything about "all asians" or "all asian students"

rtha: That must be it.

Yep. That, or you're trolling. More likely the latter. Either way I'm clearing my history so I don't accidentally click on the thread again.
posted by localroger at 1:32 PM on April 27, 2011


me: all of the high achievers who do exist in disputable but nonzero numbers and who do hew to the stereotype.

Attention literate people: That does not say anything about "all asians" or "all asian students"


Your words: From the university's perspective the problem with all these bright Asian students is that in some important ways they're all the same;

So, only bright Asian students, I guess (you did say students). Bright white students aren't all the same - they don't have Tiger Mothers and whatnot. Bright Asian students, though - well, can't tell 'em apart.

You duck and weave and dance around "these" and "all" and move goalposts - just high achievers! the numbers are disputable but they do exist! - but dude, your words are right there up top.

I don't troll. I'm puzzled as hell by your words, and I'm pissed off at you (what can I say, I get irritable when people call me fucking stupid). I haven't called you a racist. I haven't even called what you said in your first comment racist. I am asking you to think about the assumptions that go into making a comment like that.
posted by rtha at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Localroger, if someone is saying you're acting prejudicial, an appropriate response is not to essentially reply: Don't you realize that my stereotype is right? If you don't, you're 'really really fucking stupid.' To quote Alan Moore in Big Numbers, "Language!"

More generally, this is the latest in a series of Metafilter threads, where MeFites talk about Asians as though they're not in a room, ascribe motivations to Asians that they once met in high school and then dismiss the few Asians who come out and feel forced to defend their status as free-thinking individual people. Regardless of whether or not you believe you have been racist--most people obviously do not like to feel this way about themselves--I think it's incredibly embarrassing to Metafilter that the few Asian Americans on this thread feel obligated to testify that they're human beings and that they possess the personalities and idiosyncrasies that this implies. It honestly saddens me.

If you're still here with your popcorn bowl and want some howlers, here are some things I've learned about Asians from Metafilter: they're "highly-tuned robots [who're] terrible at producing clever, original human beings ... [whose] lives fall apart when they have to make their own rules" and who are "not too concerned with empathizing and come across cold and all-business." How do we know? "I went to high school with a lot of these kids." (Some more hits: your neighbors are noisy Asians who you should never be in a relationship with if you're a woman.)

As chungking express wrote in the rather distressing Amy Chua MetaTalk thread: "All of these threads seem to end up with people talking about their friend from high school who was XYZ just like ABC. It gets tired. I imagine Victorian antropologists when I read what some people write." A few random thoughts:

1. A hilarious irony: the stereotype that many MeFites lob against Asian Americans is actually the stereotype that many people lob against the largely techy audience that makes up Metafilter. Think about how frequently the typical American thinks of programmers and engineers as emasculated autistic robots, who don't have feelings. Does this help you get "around" the stereotype and see how, just because this stereotype is something many people might feel they've observed firsthand, it might possibly be inaccurate? Don't be the jock in this thread.

2. Also hilarious: the fake precision of the racial caricaturist. Blargerz says, "I know 30+ asians, all of whom were raised with this attitude." I assume that this laughable sum is somewhat less than a horde and somewhat more than "the number of kids with black hair in my high school trig class." Localroger talks about "disputable but nonzero numbers"--which I believe is a synonym for "some." Great way to generalize about a group of people, double down when people call you out, and then hand-wave a fake limitation around what's obviously an over-broad stereotype.

3. I also enjoy how the position is: "This isn't a stereotype; it's based on firsthand observation!" I don't need to tell you that sociology isn't regurgitating anecdotes about your SAT study group rival. I also don't need to tell you that it's curious how your firsthand observations seem to match up with the historical and current racial positioning of Asian Americans. As I write here (1, 2):

What I find more threatening than Chua's parenting style is the typical reader's response to Chua's piece, seeing her and her children as hypercompetitive robots instead of people who have their own joys and sorrows. This reaction leads to withholding empathy from teenagers often driven to suicide because of pressures and expectations, and to colleges rejecting Asian-Americans for being uncreative "grinds." This dehumanization extends as far back as the 1800s, when Mark Twain referred to coolie laborers as "The Gentle, Inoffensive Chinese," and is as contemporaneous as our current insecurities about a rising China, which is often characterized as an authoritarian parent overseeing brainwashed children. When Amy Chua calls Western parenting weak and permissive, it's not hard to hear Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who recently called America "a nation of wusses" that is getting its "butt" kicked by the Chinese, whom he apparently imagines marching together while doing calculus.

(Some more articles about the model minority, "docile worker" syndrome, yellow peril, fears of a rising Asia, etc.: here and here.

4. The red herring here isn't just the usual Derailing for Dummies stuff, but the disgusting shadenfreude that non-Asian American MeFites have about the oh-so-obvious misery of being a successful Asian American. I would have more faith in this conversation if those who believed in it responded with compassion (e.g, they felt empathy for all "these" Asian Americans consigned to joyless lives), rather than the current position, which I take to be: "It serves them right."
posted by johnasdf at 1:56 PM on April 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


the oh-so-obvious misery of being a successful Asian American

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being. By interviewing at least 1,000 U.S. adults every day, the Well-Being Index provides real-time measurement and insights needed to improve health, increase productivity, and lower healthcare costs. [...] The results are put into an index that tries to measure the elements of “the good life,” and is an alternative to other more traditional (and more limited) measures of a country’s development, like unemployment or gross domestic product. [...]

RACE: Asians have by far the highest levels of well-being, followed by whites, Hispanics, blacks and then everybody who doesn’t fit into those defined categories. Asians beat out their non-Asian counterparts on five out of the six well-being sub-indexes: life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to things like food and shelter. The one category where whites beat them, but just barely, is work environment.

posted by kid ichorous at 2:19 PM on April 27, 2011


Nice, localroger. Write something that a lot of people found at least difficult if not problematic, refuse to believe that any of those people could have legitimately found what you write troubling, explain that you can't be accused of writing something racist because you have overcome your prejudices, accuse everyone else of trolling you, get offended because other people said you offended them and flounce angrily out of the thread. I'd have said you wrote the new privilege textbook, except that's basically the old one.
posted by Errant at 3:28 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


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