Tiger Moms raising Paper Tigers?

This is going to be the most talked about article since Amy Chua’s. Every South Asian American man visiting this site should read the whole thing. Here are just some of the attention grabbing sections from Wesley Yang’s piece in New York Magazine, broken out for our readers (and these excerpts are from just the first half of the 11 page article). First, what a school with admissions based purely on test scores looks like:

Entrance to Stuyvesant, one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, is determined solely by performance on a test: The top 3.7 percent of all New York City students who take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test hoping to go to Stuyvesant are accepted. There are no set-asides for the underprivileged or, conversely, for alumni or other privileged groups. There is no formula to encourage “diversity” or any nebulous concept of “well-­roundedness” or “character.” Here we have something like pure meritocracy. This is what it looks like: Asian-­Americans, who make up 12.6 percent of New York City, make up 72 percent of the high school.

This year, 569 Asian-Americans scored high enough to earn a slot at Stuyvesant, along with 179 whites, 13 Hispanics, and 12 blacks. Such dramatic overrepresentation, and what it may be read to imply about the intelligence of different groups of New Yorkers, has a way of making people uneasy. But intrinsic intelligence, of course, is precisely what Asians don’t believe in. They believe–and have ­proved–that the constant practice of test-taking will improve the scores of whoever commits to it. All throughout Flushing, as well as in Bayside, one can find “cram schools,” or storefront academies, that drill students in test preparation after school, on weekends, and during summer break. “Learning math is not about learning math,” an instructor at one called Ivy Prep was quoted in the New York Times as saying. “It’s about weightlifting. You are pumping the iron of math.” Mao puts it more specifically: “You learn quite simply to nail any standardized test you take.”

But it won’t last into college:

Colleges have a way of correcting for this imbalance: The Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade has calculated that an Asian applicant must, in practice, score 140 points higher on the SAT than a comparable white applicant to have the same chance of admission. This is obviously unfair to the many qualified Asian individuals who are punished for the success of others with similar faces. Upper-middle-class white kids, after all, have their own elite private schools, and their own private tutors, far more expensive than the cram schools, to help them game the education system…

And it isn’t like the movies anymore:

“The general gist of most high-school movies is that the pretty cheerleader gets with the big dumb jock, and the nerd is left to bide his time in loneliness. But at some point in the future,” he says, “the nerd is going to rule the world, and the dumb jock is going to work in a carwash.

“At Stuy, it’s completely different: If you looked at the pinnacle, the girls and the guys are not only good-looking and socially affable, they also get the best grades and star in the school plays and win election to student government. It all converges at the top. It’s like training for high society. It was jarring for us Chinese kids. You got the sense that you had to study hard, but it wasn’t enough.”

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p>The Bamboo Ceiling, one of the main themes in the article, struck a chord in me. Recognizing this all too obvious trap is part of the reason I quit my last job for something more risky and why being and entrepreneur seems to be a more popular choice than even being a doctor among the Asian crowd these days:

While he was still an electrical-­engineering student at Berkeley in the nineties, James Hong visited the IBM campus for a series of interviews. An older Asian researcher looked over Hong’s résumé and asked him some standard questions. Then he got up without saying a word and closed the door to his office.

“Listen,” he told Hong, “I’m going to be honest with you. My generation came to this country because we wanted better for you kids. We did the best we could, leaving our homes and going to graduate school not speaking much English. If you take this job, you are just going to hit the same ceiling we did. They just see me as an Asian Ph.D., never management potential. You are going to get a job offer, but don’t take it. Your generation has to go farther than we did, otherwise we did everything for nothing.”

The failure of Asian-Americans to become leaders in the white-collar workplace does not qualify as one of the burning social issues of our time. But it is a part of the bitter undercurrent of Asian-American life that so many Asian graduates of elite universities find that meritocracy as they have understood it comes to an abrupt end after graduation. If between 15 and 20 percent of every Ivy League class is Asian, and if the Ivy Leagues are incubators for the country’s leaders, it would stand to reason that Asians would make up some corresponding portion of the leadership class.

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p>Yang brings up a lot of searing issues that us Asian Americans (men especially) in our late 20s and 30s are recognizing in our own lives. One “scene” in his article describes how changing this pattern is a lot like learning to pick up women:

All of this is taught through a series of exercises. “This is going to feel completely artificial,” says Jones on the first day of training. “But I need you to do the biggest shit-eating grin you’ve ever made in your life.” Sarah is standing in the corner with her back to the students–three Indian guys, including one in a turban, three Chinese guys, and one Cambodian. The students have to cross the room, walking as an alpha male walks, and then place their hands on her shoulder–firmly but gently–and turn her around. Big smile. Bigger than you’ve ever smiled before. Raise your glass in a toast. Make eye contact and hold it. Speak loudly and clearly. Take up space without apology. This is what an alpha male does.

Before each student crosses the floor of that bare white cubicle in midtown, Tran asks him a question. “What is good in life?” Tran shouts.

The student then replies, in the loudest, most emphatic voice he can muster: “To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women–in my bed!”

Is Yang right? It is hard to argue with him after the case he lays out.

53 thoughts on “Tiger Moms raising Paper Tigers?

  1. different strokes. the main problem i see with an obsession for everyone in a huge demographic to do the same this is that not everyone is going to be equally good at that thing. how many doctors/engineers/lawyers do you need? for that matter, how many ibankers do you need? (that’s rhetorical :-) the problem with fixating on metrics as a cultural norm is that you get the ridiculous lemmings over a cliff effect.

    also,

    1) genghis khan (from whom the conan line was adopted) was asian and arguably the greatest alpha male in the history of the world (judging by the genetic contribution to the present).

    2) If between 15 and 20 percent of every Ivy League class is Asian, and if the Ivy Leagues are incubators for the country’s leaders, it would stand to reason that Asians would make up some corresponding portion of the leadership class is kind of off. the leaders in the legislature are selected from lawyers, and asians aren’t as well represented in law as they are in science fields. also, the sample size is small, but 2 out of 50 governors are brown asian. that’s 4%. interestingly, neither had law backgrounds (though public policy in jindal’s case is close), so they were going against the current.

    as a “final thought,” i think many kids of asian immigrants have to struggle with explaining to their parents how failure isn’t all bad. that taking the nonconformist risky option sets you up to bomb big-time, but it also may lead to greater success and fulfillment.

  2. The dissatisfaction among Asian men hopefully can drive them back to the greener pastures of their motherland, where they will be better appreciated, and help their homeland to develop faster.

  3. Colleges have a way of correcting for this imbalance: The Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade has calculated that an Asian applicant must, in practice, score 140 points higher on the SAT than a comparable white applicant to have the same chance of admission.

    This has to violate the civil rights act. it’ll be very interesting when someone decides to try their hand in the courts. Has some implications for Affimative Action so that complicates things.

  4. Manju, The reason Asian Americans have to score 140 points higher on the SAT to be comparable to a white applicant is BECAUSE of Affirmative action.

  5. Is this really applicable to South Asian Americans as much as to East Asian Americans?

    Can’t really say that this stuff is applicable among South Asian Canadians. We aren’t really marginalized like east asians, and when we get in trouble, it’s for stuff like drug busts (punjabis), gun fights (tamils), or terrorism (pakistanis). scarface shit.

    Rahim Jaffer, for example, the Pakistani-Canadian Convervative MP who married the hottest white chick in the convervative caucus, then got into a scandal involving cocaine. Or Ruby Dhalla, Punjabi bombshell, star socialite in Liberal cicles, was supposed to go far (before her political party was decimated). CEO of Rogers, our most successful telecommunications companies, is South Asian (pakistani, i think). Mayor of our richest, most redneck city is an Ismaili. We’re probably not as high achieving as East Asian Canadians as an aggregate, but we’re definitely not ignored or emasculated.

  6. I dont think this applies so much to South Asians as east asians. There are a disproportionately large number of Indians in top CEO positions. Also doing well in school does not automatically mean you will make a good employee. The requirements for being a good leader are somewhat different from an ability to cram.

  7. The part that does not apply to South Asians is the lack of facial range. If a brown man is happy, sad, angry you can tell by our faces, unlike with many of our East Asian brothers. The rest of the article totally applies.

  8. I had trouble getting through the whole thing, because the article has way too much self-pity to read at this time of the morning. As smollett points out, I’m not sure much of what Yang writes can apply to those of South Asian descent. For us, our religious background seems to play a more prominent role in how others see us, even if we are not particularly religious.

  9. hmmm… I dont see this at all in the 0s for indians (sorry, i am not a south asian). As a IBD, i do recall some issues in the 90s – the presumption that indians were only good at obscure geekery or book learning and so on. There is actually a fair over-representation of IBDs at the executive/leader/blow-hard/guru level.

    I can see that ABDs would have different issues, questions like where are you from? and the like. That is a more subtle issue but again, I dont see too many ABDs pigeon-holed into safe careers (maybe medicine is an exception). But maybe I should let them speak for themselves.

  10. Conceding that the plural of anecdote is anecdotes – not data – I think the author is making a mountain of a molehill, and generalizing about all AsAms based on his experience as an EAsAm. Much of the author’s experience can be explained by the self-selection that brought these Asian parents to America in the first place. Although to the author the 1st generation AsAm parents seem to come form a different class in Asia, from the one they direct their children’s ambitions towards in America, there isn’t all that much of a difference. While these occupations may look different, when they are analyzed using a scheme like Mintzberg’s Structure in Fives (or Sixes) the organizational role of the immigrant back home and the target here are similar. The differences if any arise from the respective maturities of the economies. Probably why so few 2G EAAs enter the creative professions is because the same class back home doesn’t either enter these fields. Percussionist Sivamani’s father himself a drummer tried his darned best to prevent the son from following him into the art, he even rapped his knuckles with drumsticks to get Sivamani to hate drumming. Nothing worked. Some composers from S. India like Ilayaraja, Deva and AR Rahman have persevered in the face of near poverty to master the art and hone their craft. Others like the famous Anthony Gonsalves (Lakshmikant’s mentor) came here to the US and studied composition, only to return to India. Maybe if they (or a kabuki artist) had migrated here we may have seen a few more AAs entering the creative professions.

  11. I have to disagree with the conclusion of the article. That the asian values like humility are a bad thing in America. In his book “Good to great” Jim Collins comes to the conclusion that the CEOS who run some of the most successful companies are quiet unassuming people. Companies that value Alpha male behavior usually do not do that well. I have to agree with KXB that brown religiosity and the values and work ethic that come with it mean Indians do somewhat better.

  12. I’ve noticed this in the Ivies they’re so busy competing with each other that they forget what success is all about.

    In hyperpopulated Asia competition is so intense that exams are the only salvation.

    Managerial flair is something that Malcolm Gladwell explored in his last book, where he contrasts Oppenheimer with his cultivated education with some local American super-genius who didn’t have the cultural education.

  13. “I have to agree with KXB that brown religiosity and the values and work ethic that come with it mean Indians do somewhat better.”

    Just to clarify – I am not saying that South Asians are more religious than East Asians. I am saying that we are more likely to be queried about religious matters than East Asians are, even if some of us, (like me), have not been to a temple in years. I find the idea of comparing “values” to be misguided – I am more interested in incentives & rewards.

  14. The pick-up analogy is spot on.
    Hit her with some negs, run some push-pull, DHV, run some rapport–and add her to your harem. AND improve your career to boot by improving social skills and self-confidence.

  15. The reason Asian Americans have to score 140 points higher on the SAT to be comparable to a white applicant is BECAUSE of Affirmative action.

    I don’t necessarily disagree, which is why I said; “Has some implications for Affimative Action so that complicates things.” But you’re overstating the case. AA provides cover for taking ethnicity into consideration, but it might not be the actual reason. Scotus has carved out diversity within the context of higher-ed as an exception to our nation’s anti-discrimination laws. This ruling is very tenuous and the conservative wing of scotus is likely just waiting for a case allowing them to reverse the precedent.

    So what could happen is that AA proponents, who don’t want to lose the diversity rationale, will hold their nose and defend this. This actually happened when an Asian student sued yale a couple of years back. I don’t know what happened with that case. Seems to have died somehow.

  16. This article is spot on, and I agree with Abhi that the facial expressions point is the only one that doesn’t apply.

    Humility?! Are Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer and Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs known for their humility?! Did Donald Trump and Sarah Palin take their very limited ability to global fame by being ‘umble? Humility may be the PR strategy of the day, or of whenever Jim Collins wrote his book, but it is in no way a useful attribute in corporate America.

    I disagree that Indians are “doing better.” Come to Silicon Valley. See who is doing all the work, and then see who is in the boardroom.

  17. And now about music. Why this assembly line of East Asian-Am violinists, flautists and pianists? I am from a v.v.v.diverse school district in the heartland. When I asked a Chinese-Am mom why she would not care to let her kids learn the guitar, I learned that she considers it a vulgar instrument. It’s goes with bad things like rock n’ roll! That ain’t so of course. We do have guitar geniuses among EAAs. But I am looking for a Rajna and a Rohan, Asian Americans both who have become famous by mastering the mridangam. While it is true that this is a very narrow niche and not likely to ever get you into the Cleveland Orchestra or the NYP, it may bring you some exotic fame (because mridangam is hardly a competitive field in the US for sure) but definitely sets you up for a career in the arts – Rajan is studying anthropology and languages, while her parents are doctor.

    IAs especially S.IAs have artistic traditions to fall back upon – if they can afford it. You can be an I-Banker in NY/NJ/Chicagoland, Tech Guru in the West (no problem there for Asian nerds as I can see, who are disprportionately entrepreneurial) and a doctor anywhere while still enjoying the pleasures of arts.

  18. I am not saying that South Asians are more religious than East Asians

    just to clear, south asian americans are much more religiously identified. the prominence of evangelical protestantism among some young east asian americans, especially koreans, masks that east asians in the USA, just like in east asia, are the most secular of americans. south asian americans, at least hindus, don’t seem hyperreligious to any extent, but they have a solid religious identity. the cultural zeitgeist in a place like japan or korea is different, where an individual can switch in an out of religions several times in their lifetime and families are multi-religious and irreligious.

  19. I attended Jefferson High School in suburban VA, a similarly competitive high school, which based admissions on both a test, as well as grades, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. Back in the early oughts, the Asian population comprised something like 20-30% (probably 70% of that East, rest South) of the class pop. with ~60% white and the rest hispanic/black. Its funny to hear now, with the introduction of a few quotas to incorporate more underpriveleged minorities, that the Asian pop. has surpassed the white pop., and with South Asians making up a greater %age than previously. Many of us South Asians at the time lamented how our parents stigmatized participation in extracurricular activities and how this hampered our chances for admission to the extremely elite institutions as it made us inseperable from one another.

  20. …the cultural zeitgeist in a place like japan or korea is different, where an *individual* can switch in an out of religions several times in their lifetime and families are multi-religious and irreligious.

    Something that many from India would understand. In fact for some East Asians wandering into the churches here begins simply as just another thing you do on Sunday. Most stay on, a few lapse. With some of the world’s largest megachurches and largest exporter of missionaries, S.Korea is hardly secular in in its identity. The state tolerated violence and harassment of Buddhists and their institutions is deplorable.

  21. I have Chinese American friends who are amused by the S-Korean like zeal with which some of their fellow chinese american friends try to recruit them to the church. Unfortunately, I do not have any East Asian American friends that are religious for me to find out how this missionary zeal came about in the Korean community in the US and parts of the Chinese community. I do not see anything like this in the Japanese American community. This is obviously not based on any serious study. Just relaying anecodtal based obsevation.

  22. S.Korea is hardly secular in in its identity. The state tolerated violence and harassment of Buddhists and their institutions is deplorable.

    first, 45% of south koreans don’t admit any identification with religion (this is a robust finding, and in face confessionalization as increased as buddhists have started mimicking christians who introduced the western idea of a specific precise religious identification as common among the populace, as opposed to religious professionals or adherents of narrow sects). second, according to the world values survey (cross-confirmed by a BBC survey from a few years back) 25% of south koreans identify as atheists, 40% as “not religious” (though many of these are people who admit nominal religious affiliation, especially to buddhism), and 30% as “a religious person.” i’m not ignorant of the zeal of korean protestants in particular, but people regularly confuse the 20% of south koreans who are protestant with all south koreans, especially because of the christianity of the north american diaspora (the millions of koreans in the former C.I.S. and china are not as christian because of the differences in the initial migration source and the local cultures).

    i am aware of the prejudice directed at korean buddhists from protestants in particular, and the discriminatory aspect of the past two protestant heads of state. and if you are referring to frank tedesco’s reports in ‘buddhism under siege,’ i’m familiar with it. but there are two framing aspects which are important:

    1) christianity is much more prominent in seoul than in other parts of the country. busan in the south is in fact the heart of korean buddhism (looking the regional statistics)

    2) there is a socioeconomic gap between christians and buddhists, which partly explains the former’s preponderance among the political and business elite.

    anyway, that’s off topic. south korea is a very religious nation compared to japan and china, and it does have a very zealous minority. but people don’t often keep all that in proper context. hwang woo-suk, the scientist who committed fraud on cloning a few years back, was a convert from catholicism to buddhism. there are two things which things brings to the fore. first, religious conversion away from christianity doesn’t elicit threats of violence. second, koreans were really pumped up about woo-suk’s success in cloning, showing how limited the appeal of american social conservatism on bioengineering was. or at least the pro-life anti-bioengineering sentiments of korea’s motivated conservative protestants was of only limited influence.

  23. Unfortunately, I do not have any East Asian American friends that are religious for me to find out how this missionary zeal came about in the Korean community in the US and parts of the Chinese community. I do not see anything like this in the Japanese American community

    some context. the joson dynasty drove buddhism from its central position in korean society centuries ago as part of confucian inspired reforms. so in the early 20th century korea was not very buddhist at all, the temples were isolated in mountains and such quite often by state fiat. when japanese colonialsm arrived on the scene christian converts were very prominent in resisting, while the local korean buddhists were integrated forcibly into the japanese buddhist system (e.g., introduction of the japanese novelty of married priests). after world war ii the christian community was aligned with americans againt godless communism. the first president was a christian, as have been the past two right-wing presidents. the two left-wing ones in the 2000s were catholic in background, though the second was an ex-catholic (he had no affiliation, but his funeral had both buddhist and catholic rites).

    the immigration wave to the USA selected for

    1) more educated, so more christian

    2) more christian because the USA is a christian nation

    3) started with many korean war brides, who were more likely to be christian, so their families were more likely to be christian

    4) the korean churches in the USA are very aggressive about meeting new immigrants at the airports, and if they aren’t religious, they become christian quickly because that’s their social network and support system

  24. finally, when east asian immigrants first arrived in the west (i’m talking about the american experience), they were often faced with giving their religion. the reality is that many japanese and chinese peasants didn’t have a religion, they just patronized different religious professinals, buddhist, taoist, shamans, etc., in an ad hoc fashion. but the west had a model of specific confessionalization, and so east asians who arrived reoriented to this. the buddhist church of america, which serves the established japanese community, came out of this experience. it is true that the tokugawa regime demanded that all japanese register with a buddhist temple, but this came out of attempts to root out catholic christians, who were viewed as fifth columnists and tools of european powers. the standard model of relatively informal religious practices and a pluralism of patronization of institutions persisted even in japan. there are some buddhist reform movements which are more conventional confessional, those that come out of the ‘pure land’ movement, but they’re exceptions, not the rule.

  25. “Entrance to Stuyvesant, one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, is determined solely by performance on a test: The top 3.7 percent of all New York City students who take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test hoping to go to Stuyvesant are accepted. There are no set-asides for the underprivileged or, conversely, for alumni or other privileged groups. There is no formula to encourage “diversity” or any nebulous concept of “well- roundedness” or “character.” Here we have something like pure meritocracy. This is what it looks like: Asian- Americans, who make up 12.6 percent of New York City, make up 72 percent of the high school.”

    The majority of students at Stuyvesant are ethnic Chinese. What percentage are ethnic Indians?

  26. The “Alpha Male” nonsense being spread by motivators and “date advisors” is getting quite aggravating, especially since they don’t understand what it means.

    The best organizations are ones who ask ego to be left at the wayside. Folks may lambaste Goldman Sachs for their profits, but I worked there and found it to be the best work environment among the five companies I’ve worked through my career. It was the best not because folks acted like “alpha males” as movies may portray, but quite the opposite, because folks were collegiate and inclusive and the structure was flat (only 2 people between me and the CEO and I didn’t have anyone below me in a company of 20,000). As a result the “per capita income” of Goldman is around $400-$600K/yr whereas for most Fortune 500 companies it’s closer to $100-$200K/yr.

    It’s simply more efficient to throw away hierarchies, and throw away egos. The term ‘alpha male’ arises from primates where every small group of 20 has one ‘alpha male’ who leads the group and does nearly all the procreating. Thanks to evolution, the roaming tribes of 20-30 people each with their ‘alpha male’ were consolidated into city-states; kingdoms consolidated those city-states, empires those kingdoms. Through evolution, hierarchical structures continually changed (and continue to change), leaving the ‘alpha male’ a relic of the past. What do normal, sane people do if someone tried to behave bossy or in a controlling fashion? They usually stop inviting such people to parties, and the bossy/controlling individual is left out. Wild-life alpha-males provided protection; today, protection has been abstracted out and outsourced to various institutions like the military and police force who serve democratically elected term-limited civilian leadership. The closest to a social pecking order we have is wealth, and so long as your wealth is close to the next guy’s, no one draws a distinction. Compare that with wild-life alpha-males who can be dethroned by someone who has even slightly more physical strength. Wealth creates classes, not a strict pecking order.

    In the numerous social circles I belong to, none of them has an ‘alpha male’ as its member. Each member is considerate, polite, inclusive, and apologetic. In other words, everyone is civilized. That used to be a good thing. I don’t understand the hype over ‘machismo’ and the constant power struggles that is more reminiscent of tinpot dictators and 3rd world corruption than a sophisticated, egalitarian society. That isn’t to say Goldman Sachs believes everyone is equal. Instead, it believes everyone within a certain social class are equal. It’s simply too inefficient if everyone is constantly playing one-upmanship with each other. Goldman creates two classes, those who were hired, those who were not. Once you’re hired, you’re family, and petty rivalries and squabbles (which are inevitable if everyone tries to act ‘alpha’) are not tolerated. The prisoner’s dilemma is easy when there is strong equality among the class.

    What most people usually intend on saying when they ask individuals to act ‘alpha’ is really to be the opposite of alpha, to be gracious, accommodating, and taking interest in others. These are extroverted qualities, not ‘alpha’ qualities. Extroversion is clearly a good quality to have; I just wish folks would stop using the term ‘alpha male’ when they merely mean extroverted. One has to do with power dynamics, the other has to do with congeniality and friendliness. The diffident chap staring at his shoes and mumbling isn’t going to succeed in life, not because he lacks ‘alpha’ qualities but because he isn’t outpouring warmth and friendliness.

    • I wanted to thank you for writing this post. I agree with you 100% and am likewise extremely irritated by those who go around extolling the ‘alpha male’ as if we need people to act like jerks and be uncivilized let alone respect them…

  27. Razib,

    ~45% of S.Koreans are religiously unaffiliated just as the “all” officers in the USAF Academy are religiously neutral. Not. Ask Mickey Weinstein. The ~45% are silent spectators at best, because it is the ~30% (2:1) Christian S.Koreans who run the country and also call for a Bamiyan in their land.

    This is something like the way the Awadhi idiom works. Whether it is Muslim or Hindu popular literature runs rife with talk agla/pichla janam. That doesn’t mean Muslims accept rebirth like Hindus.

  28. ~45% of S.Koreans are religiously unaffiliated just as the “all” officers in the USAF Academy are religiously neutral. Not. Ask Mickey Weinstein. The ~45% are silent spectators at best, because it is the ~30% (2:1) Christian S.Koreans who run the country and also call for a Bamiyan in their land.

    you don’t know what you’re talking about, as is evident by your bad analogy.

  29. p.s., the fact that you say “30 percent” also points to your lack of fluent understanding of the details. there’s a huge gap between catholics and protestants in south korea for various reasons. you can see that gap in the world values survey stuff i linked to. i don’t expect you to check it out, i’m sure i’ll get some accusation, aspersion, and tortured analogy. i’ve seen your modus.

  30. “The dissatisfaction among Asian men hopefully can drive them back to the greener pastures of their motherland, where they will be better appreciated, and help their homeland to develop faster.”

    This comment pretty much summed up my sentiments. As an Indian born and raised outside of India, I’ve often wondered what I’ve gained from being a second-gen immigrant. Comparing the quality of my life with the lives of my cousins in India, there’s really not much difference. In fact, there are many things they have that I feel envious of. It makes me feel that immigration was a mistake. My only comfort is that I will be migrating to India within a couple of years.

  31. I don’t get why we are comparing South Asians to East Asians – we’re very different. I have a very good friend who is a South Korean, he doesn’t really care for Christianity. He told me a lot of S Koreans in LA don’t even believe in it, it’s a social thing.

    I agree with an earlier comment – most East Asians are very secular. I know lots of Chinese people, and I never hear them talk about religion, it’s simply not a factor in their lives.

    I read the whole article and it feels to me that the author is just a bitter and twisted man. Why does he think it’s so “alpha male” to get a white woman? I grew up in UK and white women weren’t seen as anything special over there. Most British Indians have dated a white woman, and some of my cousins are married to some, but so what?

    I don’t really suffer from the “hard working Indian” stereotype btw, people over here (Los Angeles) see me as British, the Indian part of me doesn’t really come into it. (I’m a British born and raised Punjabi btw)

    • LA born and raised here. I don’t know where you are living if you don’t think Koreans-Americans aren’t religious or are secular. LA is the heart of Korean American Christian evangelical protestantism. Drive through K-town and you see Korean churches on every corner, and impromptu prayers on bus benches, before meals at Korean restaurants. It seems like every Korean-American I know had at least one pastor in the family (usually their father) and grew up in a strictly religious household.

      Can I ask how long you have been in the US? It doesn’t seem like very long. Your observations may all be true for the UK, but things are different here. Sorry if this is condescending.

    • I don’t really suffer from the “hard working Indian” stereotype btw, people over here (Los Angeles) see me as British, the Indian part of me doesn’t really come into it. (I’m a British born and raised Punjabi btw)

      The white Americans of LA sees you as a British and probably as a Punjabi, since you probably dwell on your Punjabiness as opposed to your Indianess.

  32. After reading Wesley Yang’s article, I checked out Tran’s website out of curiosity. Frankly, his obsession with white women and his whole Pick Up Artist persona are disgusting. His fat face makes me want to throw up as well.

  33. wow holy double negative batman! the sentence above should read: “I don’t know where you are living if you think Koreans-Americans aren’t religious or are secular.”

  34. Interesting readings. One thing that I must get off of my chest is that I actually resent the term “Asian.” This term was coined by the classisists 2500+ years ago, and it pretty much meant “other side people”.

    In the layman’s mindset, I am sure that they don’t conflate Jesus Chris, Confucius, A Prophet named Mohammad, and a swarthy-skinned Tamil, for example. However, these 4 examples are all Asians.

    We should re-define “Asian” as to only mean “People who are from, or who’s ancestors came from Eastern or South Eastern Asians. Either this, or use the more precise terms of “South Asian”, “East Asian”, “SE Asian”, etc.

  35. The Bamboo Ceiling, one of the main themes in the article, struck a chord in me. Recognizing this all too obvious trap is part of the reason I quit my last job for something more risky and why being and entrepreneur seems to be a more popular choice than even being a doctor among the Asian crowd these days.

    I agree with this. I’ve been in job interviews where I knew that the hiring manager had already made up his mind within 1 frikkin second whether or not I’d get the job or not (I didn’t). Also in job interviews, the interviewer designs the interactions such that I’d fail. They want to see that I’m too smart when compared to the people already there, and therefore, I won’t be able to get along with them. Or, I’m not qualified because I don’t have the experiences necessary. One strategy that they do to fail me is ask questions that they KNOW I won’t have a clue about, such as Dancing With the Stars or other pop culture type of questions.

    I once had a Chinese-American financial advisor, and He told me all about his job at Morgan Stanley. He said that image was EVERYTHING there, and you will never succeed if you were a short, round-faced Asian American like him. He was right: All the top producers are very photogenic, frat-boy type of WASPs or WASPy acting Jewish Americans. As a result, he got laid off within 6 months after training.

    Now, on another note, this author is lamenting (East) Asians in the boardrooms. He should also be lamenting the dirth of (East) Asians in professional sports.

    thoreaulylazy: The best organizations are ones who ask ego to be left at the wayside. Folks may lambaste Goldman Sachs for their profits, but I worked there and found it to be the best work environment among the five companies I’ve worked through my career. It was the best not because folks acted like “alpha males” as movies may portray, but quite the opposite, because folks were collegiate and inclusive and the structure was flat (only 2 people between me and the CEO and I didn’t have anyone below me in a company of 20,000). As a result the “per capita income” of Goldman is around $400-$600K/yr whereas for most Fortune 500 companies it’s closer to $100-$200K/yr.

    Listen, I know 3 Desis guys who worked at Goldman-Sachs on the IT side, and they NEVER made anything close to what you’re suggesting. All 3 were bright and came from good schools for undergrad (MIT, Pace, and U-Michigan). Your Goldman Sachs is not as equitable and fair as you think. Moreover, if you’re referring to GS as a “best organization”, then what is a poorly run organization? Best compared to what? The I.S.I? At least the I.S.I. created wealth for the Pakistanis, but GS destroyed wealth for the Americans.

  36. “I grew up in UK and white women weren’t seen as anything special over there.”

    Many white American men don’t see their womenfolk as anything special either. Large numbers are dating and marrying women of other races, especially east asians and southeast asians. It’s a fetish for many of them.

    You are wrong about south koreans being not particularly religious. Christian south koreans are the most obsessive of the east asians when it comes to their faith. They are also the most active proselytizers and missionaries.

  37. “I once had a Chinese-American financial advisor, and He told me all about his job at Morgan Stanley. He said that image was EVERYTHING there, and you will never succeed if you were a short, round-faced Asian American like him. He was right: All the top producers are very photogenic, frat-boy type of WASPs or WASPy acting Jewish Americans. As a result, he got laid off within 6 months after training.”

    And people why so many Asian R/D/scientist are willing to sell trade/IP secrets to China/India. A lot of them felt that they are slighted and wronged, and will gladly made some money beside.

  38. This article is very interesting because last year in Macleans Magazine quoted two white female students complaining about too many Asian students attending the University of Toronto. There was a huge backlash against Macleans Magazine for their racism against Asian students. The one area of the article I thought was odd was I think the author of the New Yorker piece is stereotyping Asian American men. I encountered many attractive gay and straight Asian that are very attractive and I am sure they don’t have problems getting dates. If you visit York University or U of T in Toronto there are tons of Asian guys that are hot and not nerds or geeks. I just find it interesting in this article the author stereotypes Asian American men as being not sexually attractive or desirable as other males.

  39. “Every South Asian American man visiting this site should read the whole thing. “

    Welcome to the world of women trying to succeed. Not just about women anymore though. “Don’t cause trouble. Be humble. Be demure.” Don’t rock the boat, anyway. Women have been hearing this for decades. How many women are CEOs of major corporations. How many sit on the boards or on upper management. How does this number compare to the numbers of Asian Americans? Or African Americans for that matter? It’s my opinion that Asian American men will shatter that glass ceiling way before women do.

    “To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women—in my bed!” Right.

  40. Upper-middle-class white kids, after all, have their own elite private schools, and their own private tutors, far more expensive than the cram schools, to help them game the education system…

    Eh, not so sure about this. In the circles I’ve run in, most of the South Asian kids had access to all of these. That’s not to say they were utilized completely or the same as “upper-middle-class white kids,” but to say that white kids are economically advantaged over South Asian kids just seems false.

  41. It’s not a meritocracy if you don’t have equal opportunity.

    Are the Afros, Hispanics, Italians, Filipinos, Slavs, Scandinavians, Irish, Arabs et al who are heavily underrepresented at high schools like Stuyvesant and Ivy League Colleges really dumber than the Chinese and Jews?

    I can’t find how many Indians there are at Stuyvesant, but for sure they are only a fraction of the Chinese.

  42. In response to people’s comments:

    I’ve been here nearly 5 years. Maybe my comments about Koreans and Christianity were poorly written…I know quite a few Koreans, and I’ve dated some too. A lot are not as religious as you think – that’s what I’m saying…I’m well aware K-town is full of churches – I lived about about 2 miles from K town for 2 years! I’m very well aware that there are a lot of very religious Koreans out there, but I’ve never had one of them try to convert me. I’ve had mexicans approach me before.

    In response to me saying I’m Punjabi, well I identify as Punjabi before Indian. I’ve got a lot more in common with the average Pakistani that the average Gujurati or Bengali.

    In respose to me saying that white women are not a big deal…well the average white British guy would rather date an Indian or European girl over an East or SE Asian girl.

    One thing that strikes me when I go to UK is how invisible east Asians are in the popular culture there. Indian stuff is a lot more influential. If you watch BBC News 24 on cable you will notice that there are a lot of British Indian and British Pakistanis there.

    UK is actually more racist than the US when it comes to climbing the upper echelons of business. There’s a VERY strong “old boy” network there. I read a couple of years ago that the highest ranked Indian-origin banker in London was an Indian-American guy seconded to London.

    • I heard that the Desi population at Stuyvesant was around 10% 5-6 years ago. It might have been higher and probably is higher now. South Asians make up 5% of NYC’s population.

  43. “i don’t have a normative opinion on this but what do you think about the convention of naming the race of the suspect? It seems to be standard with news reports and optional in the blog world.”

    Thanks Thoreaulylazy. I have the same impression about that stupid term. Of limited use and what use is done, is mostly misunderstood. You’re right–who really wants loud, egotistical people around for more than entertainment? Even the brave guys who fight fires and jump into the river to rescue a drowner, are not likely to be self-centered egotists. Rather, they are extroverts, physically fit, and feel involved, even concerned, with the world around them.

  44. Alpha male Asian men can’t get dates Insert 3 paragraphs on the Buddhist Movement in 18th century feudal Korea here. White masculinity ripping through swathes of Asian women You are a victim This happens all the time as my anecdotes demonstrate…. Women suppressed by the system Asians suppressed by the system You are a victim WASPS are deadly handsome Average White men don’t like Average White women anymore Asian kids driven to succeed by Tiger moms You are a victim South Asians are the same as East Asians South Asians are not the same as East Asians Insert 4 paragraphs on Gene structure and correlation with penis size You are a victim Asians betraying America’s R&D secrets

  45. Is this an article about Asian-Americans in general or Asian-American masculinity? I have a serious problem with an article that claims to represent an entire swath of people yet excludes women. Of course, Asian-American women (and South Asian-American women) are subject to different stereotypes and experiences, but they are still Asian. Don’t get it twisted, folks – this article is very specifically about East Asian-American men in New York City.

    The dissatisfaction among Asian men hopefully can drive them back to the greener pastures of their motherland, where they will be better appreciated, and help their homeland to develop faster.

    Here’s the deal – even if we go back, we’re still foreign. If we stay, then we’re still kind of foreign. You can either bitch about it, accept it, or do something about it. That’s the whole point behind every Jhumpa Lahiri novel, every angsty post and comment on this blog, is our ultimate lack of belonging. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

  46. Sorry about the double post, I’m replying specifically to this comment.

    Here’s the deal – even if we go back, we’re still foreign. If we stay, then we’re still kind of foreign. You can either bitch about it, accept it, or do something about it. That’s the whole point behind every Jhumpa Lahiri novel, every angsty post and comment on this blog, is our ultimate lack of belonging. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

  47. Sorry, the desi population in Queens is a little over 5%. I think the desi population for NYC as a whole might be even less than 5% which would mean an even greater overrepresentation at Stuy.