Asian Americans need not to be stereotyped

Sunny Kim

During orientation, people ask you three things: “What’s your name, where are you from and what’s your major?” These three things not only serve as segue for conversation, but they also create an impression of who you are. When I tell people that I’m a journalism major, I notice the changes in their facial expressions into confusion or awe. 

Yes, I, Sunny Kim, am not studying biology or engineering. I am an Asian girl studying journalism.  

For many years now Asian-Americans have been persecuted and discriminated against, not necessarily in the form of violence, but through language. As a group, we’ve had the misfortune of being labeled as bad drivers, cheap customers or non-sociable academics. 

These words do more damage than we think. Over time, if a group of people are told they can’t pursue any other careers than becoming a doctor or an engineer, they believe and act on this claim. While being a doctor or an engineer isn’t necessarily a bad thing, limitations based on race are. Asian-Americans should be comfortable pursuing a variety of different fields whether it be dancing, philosophizing or producing.

Some may argue that these stereotypes exist only the past, but I assure you that they are still very real and very prevalent. 

A striking example of this is at the Oscar’s in which host Chris Rock introduced three Asian children as the “most dedicated, accurate and hard-working” accountants. These words seem to compliment good qualities, but they still oversimplify and generalize the Asian race, enforcing Asian stereotypes and implying that we can’t represent anything that goes beyond the words that bind us.

Then he continued, “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids,” tastelessly referencing child labor in Asia. This issue is not something that should be taken lightheartedly. For Chris Rock, who knows the struggles of the black community, including this thoughtless comment was hypocritical and counterproductive.    

Freshman journalism major Sungjai Lee explains why stereotypes are degrading.

“No two people come from the same background,” Lee said. “Every person has his and her own story to tell. Individual voices should be heard more prominently and prolifically.”

The reason why I study journalism is to show others that I am capable of talents beyond those of the stereotypical Asian who studies pre-med to become a doctor. We can be artists, writers, musicians and so much more. Asians are diverse, and it’s unfair to put us in one category. 

Asians should not be stereotyped. They should be valued and respected just like any other human being. It’s important to change this perception to create a healthy, informed and intelligent society. 

Kim is a journalism freshman from Austin. Follow Kim on Twitter @sunny_newsiee.