There are stereotypes of Asians that wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a grain (or more) of truth to them:
- “Driving while Asian” i.e. bad drivers
- Students of EITHER classical violin or piano
- Math genius
- Music prodigy
- Glasses wearing dork
- Hopelessly uncoordinated and bad at sports
- Risk adverse
- Bad dresser
This is not to say that there aren’t another ten positive stereotypes too.
- Non confrontational
- Hard working
- Rule follower
- Respectful of elders
- Respectful of authority figures
- Hands on parents
- Tech savvy
Ok, this is not you or I and certainly we know lots of Asian Americans that don’t fit this. Actually, is this true ’cause I am just now thinking of my friends and most played violin?… Except for my college roommate that played piano. Uh, yes it was classical piano not jazz, folk or rock and, yes, she was quite good.
Here’s a funny question: Do you know any Asian American kids studying classical piano or violin who are really terrible musicians? Mediocre even?
Strange, because for all the practicing, I don’t think the parents want their child to be a professional musician. It’s just to get into a good college, right?
I guess my point is that are we Asian parents promoting these stereotypes and if so, to what end? Are we raising leaders? Are we raising our children to succeed or just get into a top Ivy League college and expect that, if it happens, to carry them through? The old stereotype model just isn’t working anymore, either to get into a top college or to break a glass ceiling (in my humble opinion).
I wonder why there isn’t equal emphasis on driving compentently. Seriously, bad driving can be fatal and it’s a useful life skill. Why don’t Asian parents enroll their children in race car driving not to qualify for the Indy 500 but just to avoid accidents. Why is that so different from practicing piano and violin just for the resume? Frankly a race car straight A AP laden high scoring Ivy League applicant is different from snoozefest classical stereotype.
Who is the new Asian role model for modeling your children after? Many would say it’s Dartmouth President Jim Young Kim. If so, I think this would be the right model to be shooting for. Who is he?
“Dr. Kim immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of five and grew up in Muscatine, Iowa. He attended Muscatine High School, where he was valedictorian and president of his class and played quarterback for the high school football team.” Wikipedia
“Dr. Kim trained as both a physician and anthropologist, receiving his M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Brown University in 1982. A former senior official at the World Health Organization and co-founder of Partners In Health, he is internationally acknowledged for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases.
Dr. Kim received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2003 and was named one of America’s 25 ”Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report in 2005. In 2006, he was selected as one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” In a profile for TIME, Tracy Kidder, who described Kim’s work in the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, wrote, “One of his students told me that Kim was his most inspirational instructor; he made you believe you could change the world. I have no idea what he’ll do next. But looking forward to it gives me hope.'” Dartmouth News
Note that there is no mention of any classical instrument competency. He’s a doctor, yes, but he also studied Anthropology and applied both to developing countries. He’s well spoken and as for his driving ability, I don’t actually know, but as a quarterback he must have decent reflexes and eye-hand coordination!