By Jeff Yang
Asian-American kids, desperate to gain admission to elite colleges, are now getting coaches to teach them how to be “less Asian.” Put another way, these coaches are supposed to teach young Asian-Americans how to get out of the stereotypes that we know them by.
You know how the caricature goes: We’re STEM-brained but inarticulate. Industrious but uninspired. Capable but lacking in creativity. We’re robots who can only copy and clone and grub and grind.
It’s a perception that’s regularly used against both Asian-Americans and Asians in Asia. Just last week, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina calling China a nation of people who can “take a test” but who are “not terribly imaginative,” applying a broad-based insult to a population of over 1 billion.
And yet, as much as we may publicly bristle at the notion that Asians are “boring academic robots,” it’s tough to cast this image off when loud segments of our community are doing their best to reinforce it.
Case in point: The Asian-American groups that gathered a few weeks ago to file a complaint with the Department of Education, charging that Asians who get higher grades and better test scores are being shortchanged by admissions officers at Harvard College following the standard practice of “holistic review.” Read more