Born to Disappoint: Reflections on “Positive” Racial Stereotyping

Asians. The average Asian excels in math, science, and music, driven by her strict, insensitive parents. Categories of Asians include the Yo-Yo Ma, the Bruce Lee, the star student, and more generally the arrogant genius. Some live up to their stereotypes proudly, pretentious to the extent of degrading their classmates just to preserve their image of superiority. Some rebel by pursuing *gasp* literature and feel the cold shoulder from their families. Some remain unsure of the integrity of their personality. I’m Asian and I don’t fit nicely into a category, though others have put me into them.


Birth
The day I was born the doctor held my milk bottle six feet above my head and shook it expecting me to stand up and super-jump. But I didn’t know my name much less how to move. So the doctor frowns and scribbles another disappointment on his clipboard.

Counselor
I hear you are talented musically.

I’ve never met this woman and am new to the school. Also, I’ve never played an instrument in my life! Though I told her she must be mistaken, this mischaracterization has persisted throughout the year. She sees a musician in me.

APUSH score
Ah, I glance down at my 21/25. On the outside, I show a small asymmetrical tug on my mouth, but nothing more, enthusing over my grade privately.

“Oh I though you would do better than me!” cried an airy, conditioned to me as insincere, voice.

I look right to see a noodle neck stretched over the aisle with cascading blond curls caressing a pale white face. The girl blinked her long eyelashes and fidgeted with her suggestive skirt. I am surprised she said the assertion not out of tact, but surprise, instantly flashing to smugness.

“That’s too bad. Your parents will bamboo stick you when you get home. Kidding!”

Yes, on the first day of school the arguably smartest girl of my year started an academic vendetta against the lethargic girl with chiseled eyes in the front row. She too probably expected a fair match.

Uncontrollable anger, rising from the depths, presses outward against my skull.
You have life easy. When people see you, they see a pretty girl, part of what’s there, and you smile a vacuous smile, priding your manipulation all the while. You can conceal, but I am given no such liberty. When people see me, they see what’s not there. I cannot see my reflection in their rheumy eyes filled with cataracts of expectation.

The mascara-laden punk whom society rejects with disapproving head shaking and the misunderstood genius in a trollop’s body whom society gawks at: these purported valiant battles to achieve genuine self-expression are arrogant debris. These battlers feel complacent with their natural disguises and aim to show the world up. Likewise, you can raise the bar more easily than reach for a raised bar.

To not fulfill expectations, I disappoint the doctor.
To cross my hands in defiance to his absurd calculation, I disappoint the doctor.
While kicking and struggling in futility, I am prescient of my doom, destined to conform to a preset mold. Destined to die.

Baba
Baba, why didn’t you send me to play piano or do kung fu when I was little? They all do and they’re really good at it too from doing it for a long time.

“They all do? Huh.” A sarcastic smirk creased his brown face. “Do you know what they do? They’re busy finding dinner, shelter, and a stable living. They’re toiling the streets and sweating in the sun, stupid. I let you do what you want as a kid.”

My father’s a smart man. And he’s not a doctor.





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