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January 03, 2004

Asian American "values"

In One Suburb, Local Politics With Asian Roots, is a story about Asian American political power in Cupertino. This caught my eye:


A Taiwanese-born mother of a fourth grader spoke of differences in values, particularly education. "You probably notice there are not many Caucasians," she said, parked outside William Faria Elementary. "Caucasians want their kids to have fun and later they'll catch up. I think Asian parents have a lot higher expectations for their kids."

This sort of statement by an immigrant about another community in public seems unseemly to me. I'm not saying she's factually wrong, but the current culture judges People of Color by a different standard as far as civility goes, and I think that it shows sometimes (perhaps this blog can be a shown to be a case of that? ;). I suspect in private these sort of attitudes are even more extreme, as Asian Americans have an explicit heirarchy of contempt, with blacks or Latinos at the bottom.

True, Asian American parents have high academic expectations, but in a liberal democracy where civil society is crucial, an emphasis on grace, civility and mutual respect are also things we should have high expectations for. Leaving an assertion like this without commentary would be unthinkable if you just replaced "Caucasian" with "black." But if you don't object to soft bigotry aimed at whites, it will be harder to curb racism directed toward other groups because certain habits will be ingrained. Now that Asian Americans are nearing an absolute majority in Cupertino, past benign neglect of their racism might seem short-sighted.

Posted by razib at 12:08 AM