An Asian American Responds to “Why Can’t Blacks be More Like ‘The Asians’”
The internet is ablaze after Professor Jerry Hough of Duke University made several inflammatory comments about race. In the comments section of a NYT editorial article titled, “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” he basically asks why Black people can’t suck it up and be more like ‘The Asians’ as he called us. Here’s a link to the original story and comments. So now that he’s involved Asian-Americans, I have no choice but to break down why his opinions are absolute trash.
“The point I was raising was why the Asians who were oppressed did so well and are integrating so well, and the blacks are not doing as well,”
Let me answer that for you Professor. It’s because Asians didn’t have the same complex and elaborate system of racism that was built to oppress Blacks. Asians came onto the scene in the mid 1800s long after the system of slavery had been established to oppress Blacks. We Asians definitely were (and are) discriminated against. Lynch mobs, housing discrimination, internment camps, immigration quotas, but the system that oppressed Blacks had been here longer, was enforced more brutally, and has remained to this day. Slavery, black codes, segregation, redlining, ghettos, police brutality, prison systems. And let’s remember that stereotypes cast Asians as smart and workaholics, while Blacks are portrayed as lazy, dangerous, and dumb. These stereotypes can cost jobs, opportunities, and even lives.
The struggles that Asians and Blacks went through were completely different. One group came over mostly as willing economic migrants or as refugees fleeing war. The other group was forcefully taken from their homelands to work as slaves.
This statement also assumes that Asian Americans don’t have serious issues to deal with either. Americans of South Asian descent are often victims of hate crimes that stem from islamophobia. Southeast Asian Americans have some of the highest poverty and high school drop-out rates in the country, but because of the ‘model minority’ stereotype that all Asian Americans are thriving in America, these issues often are ignored.
“Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration,” his online comment said. “Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.”
First off, if you think names are part of the problem of racial tension, then I seriously wonder how you ever got a degree in anything.
Secondly, Hiep. Sanjay. Nhan. Khoi. Jasmeet. Hien. Min. Muhammad. Fatima. An. Tong. Mao. Many American-born Asians have names from their culture. And nothing is wrong with that. Many Blacks are descendants of slaves who literally had their cultures ripped away from them. Few American Blacks know where they’re from because that’s not something that slave owners would tell their slaves, or even know themselves. The first slaves were sold off into the New World, their native languages, traditions, and religions completely purged. Names are used by many as a small piece of cultural identity to hold onto.
“The amount of Asian-White dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-White dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a White.”
Let’s look at a study by the Pew Research Center. In 2007, they found that 97% of Blacks were okay with interracial dating while only 81% of Whites found interracial dating acceptable.
While stigma of interracial in the Black community exists, let’s flip it and also remember huge the stigma attached to those who date Blacks. There are many people who ‘are not racist’ but have said they would never marry a Black person. To those who are in a relationship with a Black person, society basically says that the only way a person of African descent can be desirable to a non-Black is if the non-Black has an odd sexual fetish known as ‘jungle fever’. Why? Because Black is commonly considered the most ‘undesirable’ race to date because society has portrayed Blacks as being undesirable, ugly, dangerous, and/or a bad romantic partner.
And since we’re on the topic of interracial relationships, relationships between Asians and Whites aren’t as cookie-cutter as Hough would like you to believe. Asian-White couples more often comprise of a White male and an Asian female than an Asian male and a White female. In the media, Asian females often portrayed to be the ‘exotic’ love interest of a strong White male protagonist. Asian males are portrayed to be weak, foreign, nerdy, and often used to be comedic relief. Studies from dating sites “OkCupid” and “Are You Interested” found that East and South Asian males are among the three least desirable demographic groups in dating, with Black females being the most undesirable.
Honestly, I don’t want to hear this crap about how Blacks have resisted integration. American society itself has been the one that has hindered integration the most. I’m profoundly disappointed that this man is even a professor. His ideas could be refuted by any college student with an internet connection. Before making more ignorant comments, I highly suggest that he take a couple courses in Asian American studies and African American studies. His entire tirade seems to just be an attempt at denying the reality of racism by driving different ethnic groups against one another. What we need instead is unity and solidarity against bigotry. We are all Americans and if some of our people are the victims of oppression, it’s our duty to acknowledge it and then take steps to fight against it.