We Are Perfect (Thanks to Our Humility)

Here we go again:

They have funny accents, occasionally dress in strange outfits, and some wear turbans and grow beards, yet Indians have been able to overcome stereotypes to become the U.S.’s most successful immigrant group.

Another season, another self-congratulatory article about desis as a model minority. At least this piece — by “BusinessWeek.com columnist and accomplished businessman” Vivek Wadhwa — drops the M-bomb from the outset. It’s titled “Are Indians the Model Immigrants?” and after the self-exoticizing intro (funny accents! strange outfits! turbans!), goes through the usual recital of achievements: median household income, hotel ownership, doctors and academics (sans supporting data), Indra Nooyi. All of which leads to this burning question:

Census data show that 81.8% of Indian immigrants arrived in the U.S. after 1980. They received no special treatment or support and faced the same discrimination and hardship that any immigrant group does. Yet, they learned to thrive in American society. Why are Indians such a model immigrant group?

I’ll let you read the article to find out the incredibly profound answers, which Wadhwa offers “in the absence of scientific research” (i.e., by pulling out of his butt) and “as an Indian immigrant” who has “had the chance to live the American dream.” You’ll learn, for instance, that such uniquely Indian traits as education, family values, humility, and “determination to overcome obstacles” account for the community’s great fortune. But let’s jump to Wadhwa’s 12th and final explanation:

12. Integration and acceptance. The Pew Global Attitudes Project, which conducts worldwide public opinion surveys, has shown that Indians predominantly hold favorable opinions of the U.S. When Indians immigrate to the U.S, they usually come to share the American dream and work hard to integrate.

Indians have achieved more overall business success in less time in the U.S. than any other recent immigrant group. They have shown what can be achieved by integrating themselves into U.S. society and taking advantage of all the opportunities the country offers.

Again, this last claim (more success in less time) is devoid of any supporting data, let alone its assumptions about the meaning of “success,” but hey, fuzzy math is only one of the characteristics of the “model minority” argument, which also trots out sociological traits that are somehow supposed to be specific to the group in question, and doggedly avoids any contrary evidence. But what makes the argument noxious isn’t so much the grab-my-nuts boosterism or even the total disregard for socio-economic difference within the community in question (dirty laundry for us to hash out in places like this blog), but the implied statements about other immigrant or ethnic groups, which, if they are not as “successful” as Indians are, must therefore be inherently lacking in the bootstraps department. After all, Indians “received no special treatment” and “faced the same discrimination and hardship that any immigrant group does,” yet “they learned to thrive in American society.”

Those who wish to engage these assertions on the issues might start with the fact that selective immigration policies aimed to brain-drain skilled professionals into the US is very much “special treatment” from the get-go. I’m sure that claim about Indians having faced the same discrimination as “any immigrant group” could use a little data-driven scrutiny too.

Still, Wadhwa has done us all a favor, by deploying the “model minority” argument in such candid fashion. We know these views are prevalent in some sections of the community; now we have a complete statement of the case and its underlying logic. You be the judge. All I can say is: Macaca, Please!

99 thoughts on “We Are Perfect (Thanks to Our Humility)

  1. I argue with him about it, but in fairness, his upbringing was even tougher than most of these innercity kids we are referring to

    Bidismoker, I have to agree with your Dad. I am FOB and grew up in India. It is true that the “poor” here have it so good that they have no idea what is being poor like a really poor person in India. I am trying to be a know-it-all, but its hard for anyone who goes on short visits to India to really see the level of poverty (and also the inspiring stories of people who overcome odds).

    If you get a chance read the story of Sarathbabu whose grew up in the slums (literally the slums) and went on to get an MBA from India’s top management school and now running a successful business.

  2. This is a great time to plug my favorite TV show The Wire on HBO, which would be of profound interest to people like Siddartha and others on this board.

    word, word, double word, triple word and quadruple word! the wire is the absolute pinnacle of television right now. it’s entering its fourth season. the three earlier ones are all classic, and 1 and 2 are available on DVD. don’t sleep!!!!!

    bidismoker, i haven’t yet caught last sunday’s episode… was out of town w/ no hbo… i need to catch up before this sunday.

    re: the bigger discussion on schools — these are some huge questions and one thing is for sure, the old orthodoxies are outdated, whether they are those of the left or the right. i think some measure of school choice is necessary given the state of things; i also think this should not be a fig-leaf to justify avoiding the massive infrastructure investment and revalorization of the teachng profession that are both needed. i appreciate the testimonials of the teachers here; y’all are on the front lines, maximum respect.

  3. Bidismoker:

    I TiVo and watch it religiously. It is, in my opinion, the best show on TV. I lived in Baltimore for a year, and they’ve captured the feel of that city to perfection. It’s gritty and raw without being forced or unbelievable, and the stories are really powerful.

    I kind of wish for a desi angle on it, too.

  4. This may be somewhat off-topic but I’m curious if the “most successful ethnic group” statistic includes Caucasians, or just non-whites. Does anyone know?

  5. This may be somewhat off-topic but I’m curious if the “most successful ethnic group” statistic includes Caucasians, or just non-whites. Does anyone know?

    yes to the first.

  6. This might be long…

    I said that the argument espoused by the Cosbys of the world includes the notion that African Americans today care insufficiently about education, family, community.

    We don’t care enough about some of these things. Or at least, we don’t care about them in the right way. I’m not foolish enough to say that black people bring all these things on ourselves, but there is a particular absence of personal responsibility in my community. I think that was Cosby’s essential point (to which I agree) despite poor delivery.

    The few individuals who “prevaill” or “get out” are exceptions – while inspirational, these kinds of stories are excuses to keep things the way the are, rather than giving kids in these rough neighbourhoods equal opportunity as a kid in a rich, white neighbourhood. We can expect everyone to be exceptional!Not everyone can be, by way of genetics and other factors.

    These people are not always “exceptional” and I know this because I am one of them. And I meet students like me regularly. I came from an inner city neighborhood. My high school had metal detectors and was right in the middle of the hood. But it also had great programs that not enough black students took advantage of. All my APs and IB credits were paid for. Students of all races (and economic status) came to our little school in the ghetto to take advantage of our programs. I was, and in many ways, still am quite poor. I am not a genius… and I am quite unremarkable (though, I think most of my ivy-league peers are unremarkable [read:normal]as well). I don’t really know how to explain it, but we aren’t splitting atoms here (well, maybe some of us). I just hate to be thought of as some genetically superior super negro. Other black people can do this too. To say they can’t just cuts off hope from the very beginning.

    Actually, I’m going to break my responses up…

  7. Or at least, we don’t care about them in the right way.

    I need to expand on this… and this is, of course, my opinion.

    Black people care about education. But we expect others to do the educating for us. There are a lot of black parents who will blame the school for something, but won’t join the school’s PTA. Or, when their child comes home, they don’t nuture their children’s intellect… because that’s something for the school to do. Moreover, a lot of these parents do not properly dicipline their children anymore, so when they get to school teachers are too busy trying to shut kids the hell up than teaching. I love the feeling of being in a predominantly black class, but when I started going to classes with mostly white kids in the burbs, I noticed a distinct difference in the way classes ran.

    Cultural note: Black kids are a lot more active in their learning on the middle and high school level. If the teacher engaged us, we were highly responsive and gave a LOT of comments… which doesnt bode well for covering lots of material. Sometimes, we really just needed to shut up. I think the pred. white classes I’ve been in are a bit too sterile, but when it came time for AP exams, all the material had been covered.

    Family is important, so I’m not even going to provide a counter arguement for that. I had never heard of black people disowning their children in real life until I’d heard about Alan Keyes.

    Community. Black people will rally over something really quickly. But the staying power you need to actually make changes isn’t there. A lot black people will not support even those black businesses that are well run… we have a sense of community, but as a group, we have lost our way.

  8. I would say that there is a difference in how education is seen not just between Indian-Americans and Black- and Latin-Americans but Americans as a whole. And as someone said earlier, we may see the 2nd, 3rd, 4th generations start to slack off as their families become more “Americanized”.

  9. There is no denying the fact that money plays a very important role in an immigrant’s social assimilation.

    Most of the people who come from India can be broadly classified into two categories.

    • Educated, holding advanced degrees (or an intention to pursue grad studies and then ‘settle down’ in US).
    • Not highly educated (high school)..they usually end up working at gas stations, driving cabs etc.

    The first group has absolutely no idea about the hardships that are usually faced by the people in the 2nd group. We (the 1st grp) pursue our advanced degrees, get high paying jobs, move into suburbs, raise our kids..and have enough money to pay for their kids’ college tuition etc. Once we are “succesful”, we start this whole “model minority” chest thumping and start comparing ourselves to other immigrant groups. One thing that we usually overlook is the plight of the 2nd group..those who started in this country with petty hourly wages, difficult working conditions, long and titring hours etc. When we compare our “model minortiy” with Mexicans, South Amercians etc, we should also take into account this 2nd group. “Education” is the only reason why this 1st group is “sucessful”. Parents in India lay great emphasis on education..’cos they don’t want their kids to grow up and do low-paying jobs. Back in India, our housemaid (who was uneducated) sent her kid to an English medium school becuase she wanted him to succeed in life.

  10. From Wadhwa’s article:

    2. Upbringing. For my generation, what was most socially acceptable was to become a doctor, engineer, or businessperson. Therefore, the emphasis was on either learning science or math or becoming an entrepreneur. 3. Hard work. With India’s competitive and rote-based education system, children are forced to spend the majority of their time on their schooling. For better or for worse, it’s work, work, and more work for anyone with access to education.

    Does anyone else find this profoundly depressing? Only three professions are acceptable, and children spend their childhoods in a rote-based learning system that means ‘work, work and more work’. Emphasis on education is great, but this sounds almost like child abuse and a recipe for psychological dysfunction. If he is advertising Indians as a model minority, he is not doing a great job.

    Unfortunately, its true; the Indian education system sucks quite a bit. But is this true for the 2nd gen’ers too? Are there professions that are socially acceptable, and others that are not? Some insight would help this FOB.

  11. I went to a failing public school in a city in Michigan, which basically has the worst economy in the country. Our school was 35% minorities, and only 20-25% went to college after school. And that’s after about 40% dropped out….Whatever the cause, the solution is to change the prevailing attitude that doing well in school isn’t “cool” or makes you a “nerd”. I know even I held that view, and most Indian kids I know believe the opposite.

    I agree with your entire post… There was a quantitative study done recently on what it would cost a black student if they were associated with “acting white.” It has its flaws, but its interesting to see how much culture and society affects black students.

    2. That being said, however, the parent and teacher expectations of these kids tragically vary between groups.

    Very true. The hardest thing for me was dealing with the large number of teachers who would tell me I wasn’t suited for their classes. That I couldn’t handle the work, and maybe I should drop some of my APs. Oh, and my counselor who basically asked me why I would ever think of applying to some of the schools I did. But this didn’t happen in the city. This happened in the burbs. This is why I’m an advocate of making black people more accountable to their own actions… instead of this “lets help the savages who cant help themselves” view that seems to be so popular on the liberal side.

    You can dress it up in prettier ways, but greed + fear are a major component of our “success”.

    I’ve noticed this… and while I think some degree of fear is reasonable, I LOVE the fact that love in my family is completely unconditional. I’d have to do something absolutely crazy to get ousted from my family… and even then, my family would probably just tell me they’ll send me their prayers while they ship me to a mental hospital…

    I argue with him about it, but in fairness, his upbringing was even tougher than most of these innercity kids we are referring to.

    As for my ancestors. I feel its a slap in the face to the people who came before me to act like black people have it worse now than they did back in the day. A lot of the problems that black people have are psychological residuals from slavery and from laws that made things impossible… and the problems need to be treated that way. We have a collective lack of self esteem.

  12. These types of discussions are extremely fuzzy. I think the statistics would show that, as as group, Nigerians have comparably high earnings, educational status, etc. as South Asians. Does that mean that Sub-Saharan blacks oinnately are more intelligent than other human populations? Hardly. Rather, the high earnings of Nigerian immigrants, who almost invariably arrive in the U.S. with advanced degrees, leads credence to the weight of “brain drain” immigration policies. In other words, highly educated immigrants from all over the Third World were favored by U.S. immigration policy. Genetics or socioligical characteristics have little or nothing to do with the matter.

    As a sidenote, it seems that certain countries such as Nigeria and India have failed miserably at retaining it’s highest achievers, where as Latin American countries have largely been successfull at retaining its professional middle class. The dearth of Mexican-born doctors, lawyers, dentists, architects and other types of professionals in the United States is telling. Middle class Mexicans by and large do not emigrate. In Mexico, in fact, there is a certain stigma attached to emigration, as it is viewed as the last option of the uneducated and underemployed. Interestly, in many Third World countries, it is quite the opposite, people who leave India, Nigeria, etc. for the U.S. are viewed as the “cream of the crop.” Fascinating

  13. One-up; Thanks for the link. I knew about the negative connotations with “acting white”, but I did not know there was an actual study.

    “You can dress it up in prettier ways, but greed + fear are a major component of our “success”. “I’ve noticed this… and while I think some degree of fear is reasonable, I LOVE the fact that love in my family is completely unconditional. I’d have to do something absolutely crazy to get ousted from my family… and even then, my family would probably just tell me they’ll send me their prayers while they ship me to a mental hospital…”

    I hear you there. I can’t say it’s universal trait, but desi parents have very high expectations. This can be a good thing or a bad thing – and it all comes down to the mental stability (how good of a role model) each individual parent is. A shitty parent with high expectations – that just sets a kid up for failure. A great role model/parent on the other hand, with high expectations – great results. I think this can be said for any culture, though really. If you’ve got a parent that expects you to get straight A’s without any investment on their part; whether it be tutoring, lectures on self-esteem, driving you around the city to get to the library that has the one book you need, or to those soccer practises – that’s just crazy. Education and success requires a big investment on the part of the parents. I’ve seen desi parents who don’t put this investment in, and still expect straight A’s, because Patel’s kids got a scholarship or whatever, but don’t realize that they’re a part of the equation. So, I do agree, that parenting is probably linked to the success of the kids.

  14. oneup – it’s great to hear your experiences.

    brown fob – one interesting wrinkle is that the 2nd group is sometimes related to the first: the first sponsors the 2nd (sponsors relatives) and gives them a leg up. Anyone else come from an anchoring family that sponsored relatives and kept those relatives and paid for their education, food, etc, ’till they got settled? I’m surprised that hasn’t come up at SM before. Sometimes the 2nd group doesn’t understand how hard it is to be the first anchoring group, education and all.

  15. Can I add my two cents?…

    I agree with a lot of the comments that parental involvement is the biggest part of a childs educational success, that part being mostly fear. Being from a west indian family (caribbean), for me it was never a choice of was I gonna go to college or not, it was more which college/univeristy am I gonna go to, and I went to one of the worst high schools in brooklyn. Like oneup we had metal detectors, and we also had daily fights, some of which I was involved in, but through all that I managed to take advantage of all the classes and double discovery programs through columbia and nyu that my school offered. Because my mum stayed on my ass and she had a personal relationship with my guidance counselor regarding my progress and what I could do to imporve, I also benefited from the wonderful teachers that I happened to have, I know a lot of inner city kids aren’t lucky enough to have teachers that care, case in point my boyfriend, and he’s jewish, he just happened to go to a school that was predominantly black where no one gave a crap.

    I don’t know if I agree too much with the notion that as soon as 3rd and 4th gens start popping out they will adopt the kind of apathy towards education that most american children seem to have. A significant part of my family has been in the US for a few generations and the children are still ridden as hard as we were growing up, like me and my sibs, my little cousins can honestly say that they go to school year round, it’s summer school in the summer and private lessons after class for whatever subject they’re lacking in.

    I think though that like indians, west indians don’t want to be put in the same category as african americans, ok so I know this for a fact. A lot of west indians view african americans to be lazy and don’t want to be seen as the same and will tell you at every opportunity that they are jamaican etc. I even know children whose grandparents are from the caribbean, who will tell someone they are jamaican, guyanese, trini etc even though both they and their parents where born in the us. And even though a lot of west indians are the same colour as african americans, they absolutely cringe at the idea of their child bringing home an african american boyfriend or girlfriend. IMO I think that is the biggest reason that west indian parents drive their kids so hard at educational pursuits, to them education equals opportunities for material gain as well as status, they think (mistakenly) that if they can elevate themselves enough, no one can mistake them for their african american counterparts.

  16. Damn, brown folk of the subcontinent got no street cred. I have a dream, that one day, just like every other minority of the United States, desis will earn street cred. Whether it be the hipster alternative lifestyle folks or ghettos and their gangs. Only way to forge a united front is to ensure we earn respect where it counts, on the streets of LA, Chicago, DC, and NYC! Some brothas and sistas are fighting the good fight, but there isn’t enough of them, yet. I plan on changing that. We will pursue a policy of crack, crime, samosas, and real gangs (none of the wannabe Devon Boyz shit from Chicago). GD, Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips are all on notice for the new power that will rule the streets – Macacas. Our sign will be holding our hands up high, slightly bent at the elbow, while flashing the padma kunjara then moving the arms mid mody and flashing the shankha varta.

    You said it, bro! Who gives a s*** about community networks and education. We need a serious dose of badassness.

  17. My point is that there is a very prevalent argument out there that poor people, especially poor black people, are somehow lacking in those qualities

    And it looks like that’s your downfall Siddartha, at least in the case of the ‘Let’s Give Them Vouchers Dammit I’m A Professional And Don’t Want My Taxes Going to Lazy Ass Black People’ contingent.

    I find it so depressing that people will unite in indignant outrage at one comment on a mohawked student, but either be silent or vociferously entrench the systemic discrimination of African Americans in the US. It’s almost as baffling as people’s distaste of talking about colonisation’s impact on India.

    I guess another non-statistical aspect of being a model minority is believing that discrimination and an unfair playing field are a-ok because hey, they make you work harder to get to the same place, and isn’t hard work and effort what we’re all about?

  18. If you look at the inequality in any society, and attribute it, its going to be attributed in a few ways. If you had a country in which most purple people were well off and most green people were not, you would have to come up with some reason why that is. In my mind, I believe the level of difference between people is small, even in intelligence. Do you really think 90% of the work we do, or the school work we do, could be done only by us and no one else? I think all this talk about bootstraps and individual effort is bunk. Let me be really cheesy. Paneery. How many parents hold up their newborn baby and think to themselves; I’m going to make sure this child has no motivation to learn, study, or work. Instead, I hope to teach him how to effectively court legal trouble or perhaps become the victim of some kind of violent act. No one does this. We all start out with hope, and pretty much similiar attributes. And then society either lifts us up by degree or drags us down. There but for the grace of god/why hath thou forsaken me (or the prevailing structure of society) go I

    peace and love, bruv :-)

  19. A lot of west indians view african americans to be lazy and don’t want to be seen as the same and will tell you at every opportunity that they are jamaican etc.

    And that’s where I draw the line. People need to be careful with confusing psychological and social issues with people just being flat out lazy. At the end of the day, Indians, West Indians, East Asians and whoever else were NOT there when black people were getting hosed in the streets, locked up, and assasinated by the government.

    And even though a lot of west indians are the same colour as african americans, they absolutely cringe at the idea of their child bringing home an african american boyfriend or girlfriend.

    I have never heard of this. At least not as being a widespread epidemic.

    IMO I think that is the biggest reason that west indian parents drive their kids so hard at educational pursuits, to them education equals opportunities for material gain as well as status, they think (mistakenly) that if they can elevate themselves enough, no one can mistake them for their african american counterparts.

    Which is really messed up considering the large numbers of Jamaicans, Trinis, St. Lucians, etc. who come here and have no focus on education whatsoever. But there’s a point here:

    Compare Chinese, Japanese, Koreans to say… Vietnamese, Khmer, and Laotians Compare Nigerians, some West Indians, Upper middle class blacks to… american blacks, british blacks (aren’t brit blacks mostly west indian in origin?)

    I’m not sure what the desi equivalent would be… But I do think its interesting that these subgroups don’t get mentioned when people get all rah rah about the success of their particular ethnic group. Because really, you may look black, but at least youre not, you know… black black.

  20. Anyone else come from an anchoring family that sponsored relatives and kept those relatives and paid for their education, food, etc, ’till they got settled? I’m surprised that hasn’t come up at SM before

    Maybe you are just very lucky to know some really magnanimous desis. I work with the 2nd category of desis and the kind of abuse I see, the shit the 2nd category people get from their 1st category families/friends is scary and sad.

    Things are not all that great for the guy standing behind the counter of his chachas store. In most cases he works 12 hours a day (including Sundays) gets no benefits, no days off, washes his chacha’s car in the morning, cant get his wife over from Delhi because he cant afford to, gets hell from chachi all day, has to secretly send money over to his own family etc. The family networks that people here so fondly talk about are modern day slavery contracts.

  21. wanted to correct something…i don’t think individual effort is bunk. its important. but to not factor in the part played by outside forces (outside oneself) seems illogical. and yes, i think i work hard and deserve what i have

  22. “does anyone really believe they are genetically smarter?” uh, yeah, and my name ain’t razib. and please–no nazi/fasci remarks, puhleez. It was the perceived brainiest, cleverness, of the Jews, not their dumbness. Come to think of it, so did the commies–Pol Pot went after the literate, the educated. So did the Red Cultural Revolution of China. So did Stalin. Science has been quietly accumulating evidence in that direction for years now, but the social sciences are still in denial and hold to faith-based egalitarian beliefs. We have just seen the little brown desi who needed desi bone marrow. There are aspects of the brain linked to personality. Why not other mental traits? and money isn’t the answer. More money has been spent in the D.C. public school system than anywhere else–the city government is predominantly black–and the results are no different. I am not saying it’s genetic. I’m just saying there is no scientific reason why that should not be given consideration. Crash. Flash. Immaoutahere

  23. At the end of the day, Indians, West Indians, East Asians and whoever else were NOT there when black people were getting hosed in the streets, locked up, and assasinated by the government.

    Well, the East Asians were getting killed by Mao or the Japanese or other Communists or the Americans to the tune of well over 80 million dead. The Indians were getting famined out to the tune of 30+ million dead and certainly getting beaten, humiliated, locked up and shot at. I don’t understand why these should not count just because it was not being done in America.

  24. I don’t understand why these should not count just because it was not being done in America.

    I think you misunderstood my point. I wasn’t saying black people had it harder, I’m saying that black americans were the ones fighting for the equal rights in this country that these new immigrant groups are enjoying.

    (though, I think most of my ivy-league peers are unremarkable [read:normal]as well)

    And I just wanted to clarify that I was referring to all races here.

  25. oneup…

    wasn’t trying to offend, just saying it the way I know it to be, and yes, you are about us not being there when african americans where fighting their battles for equalities in this country, which is why non of us have to right to judge african americans based on media recieved impressions that are not indicative of the african american popolutaion as a whole.

    As for whether or not west indians cringe at their children bringing home an african american, trust me they do, they’ll never say anything in front of your face, they’ll be perfectly polite…til you’re gone. My grown uncle went behind his familys back and married an american woman he had been dating because he knew what the response would be had he even told them, and he was right. The entire family freaked out, not because she was crazy (as I knew and they later found out), but because she was a “black yankee”. Tell your girlfriends you have a new boyfriend, the first question is (in my case usually) “is he black?”, if yes the second is “is he american?” If he is “why?” Trust me I’ve heard that stupidity too many times to count and not just directed at myself. West induan people are very clannish.

  26. What about the FOB guy who is dating the “American girl” albeit however fat and ugly. He quickly becomes a legend among his fellow Fobbies. Emails and phone calls are traded coast to coast.

    And oh, “American” equals white for most FOBs.

  27. AnjaliToo You make a very valid point. 5 years ago I saw an interview on mixed couples in Mumbai. There was a girl from Mumbai who had moved to the US for grad school and met an African-American in NY.

    Before getting married, they decided to go to Mumbai. The extended family was shocked when they met her would-be spouse. They had clearly been expecing a white.

  28. Its kinda screwed up, but most minorities are like that towards african americans. I know a lot west indians might not like it if their kids bring home a white boy/girlfriend even if he is american, but they would prefer that to them bringing home an african american, my parents included. Though my mother keeps asking what happened to that “nice” indian boy I used to date, if only she knew.

  29. Razib and Brown Jean Queen,

    I find your arguments about genetically inherited deficiencies/attributes v interesting, so how about you throw some data at me rather than pointing to that all-consuming humanitarian liberal fuzzy wuzzy conspiracy that keeps silencing those brilliant minds of science?

    It all reeks suspiciously of the alleged scientific belief that indigenous people where I live are genetically more prone to be violent because of their higher rate of gang membership, crime and domestic abuse… I thought it was because they were oppressed for hundreds of years but woops maybe a tiny pattern on their DNA just got rearranged and screwed it all up.

    I honestly can’t believe shit like this still gets thrown around in opposition to rather than as a tiny factor along with social and cultural impacts on individuals’ life choices, if it is true in the first place. It makes me sick. Even if there are tiny genetic differences between ethnic groups that give us different qualities collectively – Jews, Parsis, Chinese, Indians… I still believe that the impact of such differences pales in comparisons to the social and cultural expectations placed on individuals in a society, as illustrated in the data that Oneup (amazing! with all those defective dumbass black genes just killing off any possibility of original thought!) linked in his/her comments.

    And please stop acting like martyrs for some Great Cause of Science. Like I said I’m not saying there aren’t scientific racial differences, just provide links to the data rather than acting like members of some mysterious cult shielding others from the truth…

    If data is used along with other studies to help bridge racial inequality then that’s great and science has served its purpose. If it is used as an excuse to avoid helping those inferior races who often happen to be the most historically oppressed, then science can bite my hardworking, A-plus, dutiful, obedient, model minroty ass.

  30. I am not saying it’s genetic. I’m just saying there is no scientific reason why that should not be given consideration.

    What would be the point of proving one race is genetically more intelligent? Except to validate some racist ideology. Proving this (if it were even true) would do more harm than good.

    To Anjali:

    Its ok, I just wasn’t sure where you stood.

  31. Tashie, you’re brilliant when you’re angry.

    Well done my Kiwi sister.

    My own view is that most people are simply not intelligent enough to talk about group differences in intellegence. And this applies, especially, to the people who are most interested in subject.

  32. Yes, Tashie, thanks for that slur directed at pro-voucher types. Wow. When did I ever say anything like that? I love how a disagreement in policy turns into a slur against your character. Did you even read what Oneup said?

    Al M – it’s a spectrum and perhaps your experiences are weighted toward the negative. My family and lots I know got, well, taken, frankly by their sponsored relatives. We took care of them, gave them money, kept them in school, and then were promptly denigrated for our efforts. Hmmmm, maybe my experience was negative, too.

    Anyway, everyone is on their high-horse now and no problem solving is going to get done. Too bad.

  33. What about the FOB guy who is dating the “American girl” albeit however fat and ugly. He quickly becomes a legend among his fellow Fobbies. Emails and phone calls are traded coast to coast. And oh, “American” equals white for most FOBs.

    Great analysis. Bravo !!!

  34. i’m not going to front and pretend that i even read the 90 odd comments… but i just wanted give props to you guys for taking a totally offensive but yet made up term [Macaca] and appropriating the hell out of it!

    if it isn’t already there… does someone want to modify the entry in Urban Dictionary?

  35. 68 said

    “There is no denying the fact that money plays a very important role in an immigrant’s social assimilation.

    Most of the people who come from India can be broadly classified into two categories.

    • Educated, holding advanced degrees (or an intention to pursue grad studies and then ‘settle down’ in US).
    • Not highly educated (high school)..they usually end up working at gas stations, driving cabs etc.

    The first group has absolutely no idea about the hardships that are usually faced by the people in the 2nd group. We (the 1st grp) pursue our advanced degrees, get high paying jobs, move into suburbs, raise our kids..and have enough money to pay for their kids’ college tuition etc”

    The richest Indian’s I know do things like work at a gas stations and drive cabs, but the thing is they work in only 1 of there 10 gas stations and might drive 1 of the 30 cab’s that they own. These are people that make like 200,000 grand a month. You dont need a education in America to be rich, you need to be cheap.

  36. I don’t buy any race based intelligence arguments. We are all one species, and whoever draws the lines between north and south indian, white and black and whatever else – well, you’re just drawing a line – I don’t care at which allele or gene or whatever you’re drawing the line at. I haven’t read about any evidence of this – other than performance in standardized tests – whatevs – like Oneup mentioned, there are social (psychological) and cultural and historical factors at work. Not to mention the problems with testing, whether it be in school or a standardized test. And then define intelligence – there are all kinds of intelligence. A scientist can decide what intelligence means to him – and therein lies another problem. I don’t know how you’d get around a slippery slope. If you want to talk about cultural differences, or have valid cultural criticisms, well then, that’s another story.

    ” I am not a genius… and I am quite unremarkable (though, I think most of my ivy-league peers are unremarkable [read:normal]as well).” I think, Oneup, you are not giving yourself enough credit – I mean intelligence wise. You obviously have the ability to make thoughtful insight and think laterally – that might have been enough to give you a good perspective and to succeed. There are brain surgeons who don’t understand political and other social dynamics – yet society would deem this person as intelligent. My dad, for example, extremely intelligent, but he has some very narrow-minded views about certain things – he just can’t wrap his head around them, no matter how hard you try to explain. I’m a very visual person – good with visual puzzles and drawing from memory, – that’s also difficult to classify, and I’ve never been tested on such things in any class (except art class in high school) and one other standardized test, though I can’t remember what it was called.

    It’s also funny that you say most of your ivy-league peers are pretty normal as well. People worry that affirmative action will result in a bunch of mediocre professionals – I don’t see why this is a huge problem – well then, they’ll be just as mediocre as everyone else! Everyone loves to think they got where they are on hard work and merit alone (even my orphaned uncle, who is now a successful professor and researcher, who grew up dirt poor in India, had someone who thought he was special enough to warrant a scholarship. And he acknowledges this). By the way, we don’t have affirmative action here in Canada, though alot of white people think there is affirmative action – heh. I guess some people want to believe in it so they have someone to blame for their failures. A dumbass girl in my highschool class told me that my parents have their jobs because they’re non-white – ha! Similar comments have been made to black students at my sister’s school – especially when getting into very difficult programs. Sheer ignorance! There are provisions for aboriginal students, but for some reason, the seats reserved for them are rarely filled. I had a couple of aboriginal students (visablly so) in my classes and they were so intelligent that I doubt they would need a special provisions to gain acceptance. I’m sure everyone doubts their intelligence anyways! YAY!

    We do have something called “equal opportunity” for government jobs, but no one really knows what it means, or what kind of specific action would be required in such a scenario. I’ve applied for such jobs in the past, and they always have a statement in the posting “We are equal opportunity employers and encourage applications from women, etc” – GREAT! But what does that mean, anyways? Does it mean they want to know this info on your application? It means you can self-identify, but from talking with friends, most do not self-identify because A) it’s awkward, B) They believe that self-identifying may actually harm them, C) Employment equity means that if 2 candidates have equal qualifications, give it to the woman or visible minority…. who’s to say what equal qualifications are? D) They want to be able to say they got the job based on “merit”. That’s why I don’t even bother. If they wanted to hire me, they’ll hire me, if they don’t, they won’t. I know that they do take measurements to see if there is equal representation pop. wise- but last I heard, there is not adequate representation from visible minority groups in my province, but then who do you hold accountable? I’m guessing people just rush to hire a visible minority for whatever job x they don’t really care about and call it a day. Doesn’t sound very useful or productive for anyone involved.

    It’s such a complicated scenario… I’m getting really depressed and just wish that people could be more accountable on their own. I wish education on race relations, in highschool, went beyond the pc-correct “Love your neighbour” and actually involved some raw discussion. The problem is, most teachers are not informed enough and or comfortable enough to moderate such a discussion. As we’ve seen, it can turn ugly fast – much uglier if you’re in highschool!

    Ugh… Where’s Manish when you need him?!?? Manish! WHERE ARE YOU???

    MD:

    I don’t think tashie was directing her frustration at you. Oneup echoed a little bit of what you said, too. The way he explained it – I can kind of see some of your point now, or at least what you’re getting at.

  37. “The richest Indian’s I know do things like work at a gas stations and drive cabs, but the thing is they work in only 1 of there 10 gas stations and might drive 1 of the 30 cab’s that they own. These are people that make like 200,000 grand a month. You dont need a education in America to be rich, you need to be cheap.”

    This is so true. This group often consists of businessmen in disguise. And they’re not afraid to use a little elbow grease – not above working in their own gas station. I though every desi knew this?

    Though, I’m sure there are desi’s that work for desi’s that own the cab company, etc.

  38. Shallow Thinker and metric:

    I said “most of the desis”..not all. The ones that you mentioned are an exception..not the rule. And guys who work at their own gas stations don’t have to slog long hours with low wages. And as metric mentioned, they usually employ a lot more desis under them (who constitute the 2nd group).

  39. “What a load of macaca crap. It never ceases to amaze me how Indians insist on perpetuating this model minority nonsense. When you start out with one billion people, and take out a small group of the brightest (the most educated) and others who may be less educated, but are nonetheless risktakers by virture of wanting to immigrate to a new place, you will end up with a successful group.”

    What about those immigrants who left for labor camps in Africa, to tea plantatoins in Ceylon, the traders who left south India for Malaysia and Burma? How did they fare? Were they all necessarily the brightest and risk takers or just survivors? What about the Indians who were in the USA in the early parts of the century out in California? Yes, I agree the problems African Americans face cannot be compared to other immigrants – the shadow of slave history is long. But I don’t believe you can also minimize the hardships faced by Indian immigrants who have succeeded in the face of racism, absolute discrimination. At some point we need to look at what breeds sucess and apply it. Some of these lessons may not by pretty.

  40. Prakash, It never ceases to amaze me how Indians insist on perpetuating this model minority nonsense.

    What is this nonsense you are talking about? We are discussing facts. If you can’t refute the fact (v.v.difficult as it is) you shd find some other way of analysing the issue.

    Kavita, Mr. Wadhwa is smoking the same myth-making crack that so many desis in the U.S. are addicted to.

    Actually Wadhwa got to where he is because he doesn’t smoke crack or sip the Koolaid

    Progress is about what one does. It isn’t very interesting to convert this into a discussion about what people are and that gets into the domain of pseudoscientific quackery like IQ, the Bell Curve etc.

    In our district I have seen extremely poor black children of single moms make it to elite colleges by simply paying more attention to their studies and less to the inconsequential stuff. It is also known for children from affluent families to have their first DL suspension before graduation. So it is still about actions, sabe?

    As far as I know desis too are human (even if some think otherwise). If the rich ABCD/FoB thinks that they have it made will get ahead in life no matter what because they are desi they are more likely to go bust. It has happened in India so it can happen here – the first generation struggles and earns, the next enjoys and stagnates, the third fritters away and destroys the fortune. Just as the urban poor in India spend a fortune on getting their children educated; the least well off desis in this part of the world (whom some desis would rather not acknowledge) would do better by putting their children thru college than getting carried away by the limo liberal desis. In fact that is what many of them do.

  41. While I’m not a fan of Indians’ chest-thumping tendencies abt their (material) success in the US of A, are we any different in our self-adulation from other minorities/ ethnic groups/ immigrants… ?

  42. Anjali Too -

    Are you still here?

    Wanted to ask you about the dynamics between the Indians and Africans in Jamaica.

    Especially in regards to their views regarding sexuality and family.

    Do the Indians in Jamaica marry or do they go the common-law way?

    Do the Indians have various children by various baby’s mammas and baby’s daddy’s?

    Amongst my Indo Carib and Afro Carib friends (quite alot), I see a BIG difference in views of sexuality and family.

    It is true, like Siddhartha pointed out, that African Americans seem to have a much bigger sense of family than middle class white Americans. However, the family dynamics are very different from the Indian American family dynamics, in terms of marriage, or lack thereof, and the baby’s mamma/baby’s daddy factor, etc.

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