First time I faced the “good Asian” tag, I wasn’t sure that it includes me. I was mistaken for an Indian more often than I could politely take. My understanding was “Asian” was used more for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other SouthEast Asian ethnicities. But no, I was mistaken. As an Indian looking Nepali, I too was part of the “good Asian” brand of expectations.
And there were many expectations. Asian are the so called model minorities in America. Smart, highly educated with solid family structure and stayed away from trouble.
I was floored. It is flattering to be called a “model” of good behavior and success; but take some time and think about it, you will see that it is not so flattering after all.
This tag lumps all Asians into one group as if we age one monolithic group driven by same ideas and dreams. Our diversity is discounted and we are bound by an invisible chain.
When an Asian boy wants to be an actor or when an Asian girl wants to be a jazz musician, it is this perception of “model” behavior that adds to the pressure they feel from home to find more traditional pursuits like Medicine or Law.
Although nowadays you can see the number of Asians in art, television, movies and sports rising;compare that to their presence in say technology, it is negligible. There are about 2 million Indians in America, and how many have successfully transitioned into national mainstream in movies, music, sports etc?
The Chinese are the largest Asian community in America, how many are nationally known actors or musicians?
Other minorities too have to deal with this chain of public expectations and perceptions. For instance ask an African American boy or girl what career path they want to pursue. You will see that their choice or that their understanding of what thy can accomplish is strangely limited in this land of unlimited opportunities.
Where is the root of this chain? Why can’t there be a true freedom, no expectations and no judgments for all ethnicities?