Reviewer: Chryssa Takahashi
Look at me.
I’m Asian – Chinese to be precise.
And in middle school,I had perfect grades.
I’m good at drawing.
I’ve played piano since I was seven.
My childhood dream? Becoming a doctor.
This is no surpriseto any of you, of course.
After all, Asian-Americans are stereotyped as the model minority,
which means we’re thought to achievea higher degree of success
than the average population.
We’re good at math, we play instruments,
we treat a B+ as an F.
It’s expected of us.
These stereotypes seem like a good thing.
After all, shouldn’t it be a compliment
to be stereotypedas hardworking and successful?
I started thinking about these questionsa couple of years ago,
and I found thatthe model minority stereotype
permeates the lives of Asian-Americanstudents far beyond the surface level.
I remember vividly this one time I had to play at a piano recital.
I made a mistake, several, actually .
And I rememberjust feeling absolutely terrible.
It was only just enough to be noticed,
but it seemed like the end of the world.
The problem was thatmy standards were too high.
I’ve been conditioned to acceptfor myself nothing less than perfection.
This is a common experience shared by so many of my Asian-American peers.
I’ve seen friends crumble under the pressures
of not doing well on a test,
at a math competition, in a class.
Our standards for ourselves are set so incredibly high,
merely as a result of the model minority stereotype.
Living up to the highest standardsthat come with being Asian,
it is often overwhelmingly stressful.
And students suffer psychological,emotional and even academic costs.
We learn to correlate our self-worth with quantitative measurements.
Beating ourselves up over anything less than the A range.
我们为了使自己更符合标准而付出 比如学得更久 更刻苦
We normalize self-sacrifice such as studying harder and longer
and forgoing our social lives.
This stems from the ingrained belief
that the worse you do, the less valid you are.
Since education occurs during the developmental years,
these attitudes leave a deep psychological imprint.
One of my good friends recently competed
in a state level math competition,
and was expected to qualify for nationals.
他告诉我 为了取得好成绩 他感到巨大的压力
He told me about how pressuredhe felt to do well,
just because he was expected to.
He said that on the harder problems,
he panicked and forgot how to solve them.
And he questioned his every pencil stroke.
He ended up missing the qualifications for nationals by just one point.
Afterwards,he spent hours and hours sitting on his bed,
mulling over how it could have gone differently.
Our emotional well being really does suffer under this burden of expectation.
However, the model minority stereotype creates a false illusion
that Asian-Americans are perfect kids at school,
and the needs of these studentsare often neglected or ignored.
This creates an environmentof emotional isolation and hopelessness.
As a result, according to the National Center for Health statistics,
Asian-American girls between ages 15 and 24
have the second highest rate of suicide.
And according to the AmericanPsychological Association,
Asian-American students are significantly more likely than their white counterparts
to have suicidal thoughts.
In addition, the model minority
stereotype fails to let schools and teachers
recognize the needs of Asian-American students.
When I was in third grade, during every math class,
my teacher would give all the Asians
in the class a packet of advanced math,
and told us to sit outside in the hallway to do it.
I was completely confused.
She failed to recognize
that although I understood the material being taught in class,
I was a third grader, not somemagic learning machine
that could automatically understand math concepts.
Failing to meet the standards of academic achievement
can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy.
When Asian-American studentsdon’t achieve stellar grades,
people are often surprised,
and may even take glory in being better than you.
I have even heard people say to me that I’m a bad Asian.
Simply because I’m not the best at math.
And when Asian-Americanstudents need help,
they can be reluctant to seek assistance.
For the longest time, I never asked teachers for help,
even if I really needed it,
because to me it seemedlike admitting failure.
I thought that I wasn’t supposed to need help.
This is an incredibly toxic mindset,
but it doesn’t have to be this way.
In order to help alleviate these pressures on Asian-American students,
we must first raise awareness.
Just like the problemsof any other racial group,
we must speak up about the dangers of the model minority stereotype.
Our voices must no longerbe silenced by complacency.
其次 我们必须求助于媒体 要求他们
Next, we must turn to the mediaand demand more representation
of Asian-Americans in film,TV, and literature
that isn’t just of nerds or sidekicks.
We must create support networks for each other,
so we can talk or just have a shoulder to lean on.
And finally, we must redefine success.
你是一个独立的人 不能由你的成绩 你的分数 你的奖项来定义
You are not your grades,or your scores, or your awards.
I know we’ve all heard it before,
but it’s time we truly believe it.
Reversing the stereotype takes time.
It’s certainly not goingto happen overnight.
It may even take generations.
But if we start now,
one day our grandchildren, or even our children
can be free to be who they want to be.