Thursday, September 10, 2009

Being an Asian-American Student is Dangerous

Two reports about problems Asian-American students face in school:

From the Philadelphia Weekly, Asian Students Under Assault:
Wei Chen sits at the table, opens his backpack and unloads folders full of paperwork documenting alleged abuses against Asian immigrant students at South Philly High.

“Sometimes it’s the same student in many fights,” says Chen, pointing to a day planner that is full of Chinese writing, listing the troubles of each particular day. “Some kids get picked on a lot.”

Dozens of the alleged incidents are relatively minor—name-calling, verbal threats, petty robberies, random punches in the head while walking down stairwells, and general intimidation. But according to Chen, at least six times last school year those minor incidents escalated into massive rumbles where outnumbered Asian students were pummeled by packs of teens, sending several of the victims to hospitals. Like the day last October when a group of around 30 kids allegedly attacked five Chinese students after school in the Snyder Avenue subway station, one block from school. That incident started when a black student walked up to a Chinese kid in the cafeteria, touched his hair and allegedly threw a carton of milk at him. Rumors of threats filtered through the school on the day after the subway rumble, and the notion of continued violence froze Asian students.
From WNYC, Brian Lehrer Show, Asian American Students at Risk?:
Andrew Lam, editor at New America Media and the author of Perfume Dreams:
Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, and Peter Yee, president of NY Coalition for Asian Mental Health and assistant executive director of Behavioral Health Services at Hamilton Madison House in Manhattan, discuss whether cultural pressures for extreme achievement played a role in the suicides of three Asian American Cal Tech students in recent months.
Two very different stories, but both, unfortunately, part of the Asian-American experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the Brian Lehrer Show. These two Asian American guests on his show are very knowledgeable of various problems facing many Asian American kids. As a Chinese American (first generation immigrant) dad, I think the family pressure problem primarily exists with the second generation Asian Americans because of their immigrant Asian parents. I am very conscious of this pressure problem that Asian immigrant parents impose on their kids. Even as a man, not to mention a Chinese man, I cry sometimes for some Chinese American kids ( friends of our kids), for what they are being put through by their parents. I can tell many such stories. Just one quick story. An 8-year Chinese American girl was so conditioned by her overachieving Chinese immigrant parents that she cried and couldn't sleep when she realized her science teacher made an error in computing her final score. Even though she got 94, she couldn't sleep over that and decided to go to the teacher to ask for a correction of her score to be 96. Her teacher acknowledgd the error but said there was no need to change it because she had the highest score in the class anyway. The 8-year old cried some more. The girl was definitely sleep deprived. Her mom even inquired with school if her smart daughter could take some tests to skip a grade, which is the ultimate academic honor in China. As an observer, I believe the mom did that for herself. She wanted to have something to brag about.

It is very hard to help some Chinese parents see the harmful effects their pushy parenting style has on their children. Trust me. I cry over that for many Chinese American kids.

- a Chinese dad