Re: “Too Asian?”

(originally posted at maddieloveskpop)

I don’t really have much to say about that Macleans article - you know, the one in which my pursuit of higher education causes certain [white] people to recoil in horror. But then, the borderline inflammatory way the article is phrased is not particularly inviting of the dialogue and further discussion it was perhaps intended to prompt. As it is, you either agree with it or you disagree (as most I’ve heard from do). Of the varying public responses in disagreement, Jeet Heer’s is probably the most clear-cut, insofar as it puts the racism of the article in terms people who otherwise don’t see it can understand.

The only part that I have something to say about that I haven’t seen discussed as much is this “fact”, at the top of page 2:

Asian-Canadian students are far more likely to talk about and assert their ethnic identities than white students.
The moment I got to that part, I wanted to stop reading. OF COURSE Asian-Canadian students are more likely to talk about their ethnic identities, when articles are being written about them that question their presence in Canadian universities based on their ethnicity (and behaviours assumed to be tied to their ethnicity)! If “Canadian” is assumed to equal “white” unless preceded by an ethnic marker (i.e. “Asian-“, “Chinese-“, “African-“), then OF COURSE white students aren’t going to assert their ethnic identities, because what do they have to assert? As far as they have been taught, they are the status quo, the cultural majority, and all they have to do is go around pointing out the difference of others. How many Canadians of Asian descent have been asked by a white person, “What’s your background?” (thus being PROMPTED to assert their ethnic identity by a white person), only to respond in kind and be told by the other person, “I’m Canadian”? Not having to think about your identity is the definition of privilege. This is not something that should be used to point out the difference between Asian-Canadians and white Euro-Canadians, or at least not in the way it’s presented.

Other things that went through my head, but which I don’t want to expand upon right now due to the probability of rage clouding my ability to be articulate: why the ethnic person has to be accommodating of the white person’s expectations and not the other way around; how associating behaviours with ethnicity obviously leads to racism; why for the first half of the article, Asian-Canadians interviewed are given full names, first (not-ethnic) and last (ethnic) but the white women interviewed at the beginning have protected identities; why this article subtly infers that meritocracy is letting in too many undesirables, when the whole argument against affirmative action is that meritocracy is superior; etc., etc.

Respond here if you’d like.