Opinion: Asian Americans need to actively question Asian American stereotypes

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Bob Oschack, a comedian and “investigative reporter” for Fox Sports, visited the University of Southern California, asking USC students for their thoughts on the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Utah joining USC as members of Pacific 10 football conference.

Oschack did not ask USC students in general. He, instead, specifically asked Asian American students at USC, selectively targeting their accents and their word choices instead of intently listening to their feedback.

Oschack, in other words, was selectively harassing Asian American students with his inquiry, perpetuating Asian American stereotypes.

But these Asian American victims passively followed his instructions, as if they were corpses being aggressively poked by the stereotypical aggressor. 


Now is the time to change this passivity, the time to actively dismantle these Asian American stereotypes to defend not just yourselves, but also other Asian Americans.

You might ask, “How? How could us Asian Americans combat stereotypes that existed long before our existence?”

Here’s how:

Question—I mean, actively question–the hidden motives behind these directed attacks. Direct the stereotypes back at the stereotypical aggressors instead of taking it all in, questioning their personal and their institutional motives to hold themselves, and their corporations, accountable for these unjust attacks.

If us Asian Americans attack stereotypes with insatiable inquiries, we attack the cause of these stereotypes: people holding prejudices against ethnic minorities, especially those towards Asian Americans.

This active inquiry might, in the beginning, feel unsettling, partly because us Asian Americans seem to embody stereotypes suggesting passivity. But these intellectual pursuits will feel less unsettling when it forces the stereotypical aggressor to identify, examine and revise actions reflecting stereotypical attacks. In this way, we fight not just the perpetuators of Asian American stereotypes, but also the perpetuators of our unjust ethnic treatment reoccurring throughout our history.

So if you Asian Americans are targets of Asian American stereotypes, fight back with insatiable inquiry to avoid rehashing the historical trends stereotyping Asian Americans, to fight unjust attacks targeting ethnic minorities and to fight for a better future for Asian Americans.

In other words, actively questions stereotypes negatively affecting past and present Asian Americans, creating a better future for your Asian American companions.




About the Author

David Ka Wai Pan is your typical Asian American, confused about his identity but determined to learn more about it. How? By writing and posting articles here at AsianWeek.