Why Are Asians Percieved As The Smart Stereotype?

January 16, 2012
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The clock begins ticking, as the Spanish teacher passes out the tests. “35 minutes.” An Asian girl flips her paper up, and begins to diligently work. All she hears is the beat of her own heart, and the sound of her mechanical pencil with the 0.7mm lead. Then she hears whispers. “Hey, number 2?” “Tell me the answer for number 8!” A sea of hushed voices all directed towards her. She doesn’t want to answer. She doesn’t know WHO to answer. She ignores the persistent voices. The time continues to fly by. She walks up to the front of the room, hands in her paper fifteen minutes before it’s due. She’s met back with stares and eye rolls. A murmur of profanity and the word “Indian” being mentioned.

The Cold Hard Truth
An eighth grade Asian girl has interviewed many Asians, and a couple of non-Asians, on a mission to find out why Asians are treated the way that they are perceived. Why Asians are always thought of as the “smart” stereotype? I ask a white male, “Do you think Asians have the better jobs?” He says, “No, because they are at 7-11s’ and gas stations. White and black people are always playing sports, and they are famous.” Really? Can people be that racist towards Asians? Not every Asian owns a 7-11, in fact most of them DON’T. When people think of Asians, they never think of sports either. Did you know that India won the Cricket World Cup in 2011? Cricket, is very strenuous, since matches last from three to five days, and each day the players play for six hours, approximately. How does this NOT count as a sport? However, when another Caucasian was asked the very same question, the person said, “Yes, because they are Asian.” Is this the only form of explanation? Well, it simply can’t be because it’s entirely redundant. But, an Indian girl has an explanation of her own. When she is asked, “How did smart fit the Asian stereotype?” she says, “In India, there are strict schools and boarding school systems.” India is known for intense amounts of pressure in their schools; a teacher takes out a stick when the students are misbehaving. Also, the math and science curriculum is more advanced than America’s. When I ask another girl, “Do you think Asians have always been considered smarter in the past?” she replied back with “Why are all the philosophers Asian? Like Confucius, Laozi?” Maybe she replied back with a question, because she is unsure herself? Maybe she is guilty of stereotyping Scholars? This Asian reporter wants to dig deeper.

The Source
Why is being smart or intelligent a bad thing? Why do people always look at the Asians for a math answer? I believe it’s because people judge too easily. Other non-Asians see India and China and think that Asians will always be geniuses. They see Japanese made cars and Indians with degrees from Princeton and Harvard. They see us in the fields of medicine, engineering, many with well-paid jobs. They see us work hard, and make good lives for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Asian middle school kids don’t enjoy being “smarter”. But, being called names always hurts inside. Some stupid slurs involving anything with curry for Indians, or basically something like “you f**cking Asian!” We Indians barely ever eat curry, so most of the racial slurs that are directed towards us don’t even make that much sense. Especially stuff like “oh you curry-lover!”, or “got any curry in your lunch box?” Give me a break! “It’s your f**king fault that you don’t do your homework, and that you’re goofing around; I try to help you and YOU CALL ME A NERD. STFU.” One girl rages and rants.

The Asian Parents
Asian parents have always been known for being strict. An Indian girl says, “Not everybody cares about their grades and Indian parents are stricter.” Many Asian teens seem to always linger on the thought of “Why us?” Many don’t and do realize that it’s their upbringing. Asian parents pressure their kids to excel, and teach their children values and respect. Academics are always put first before anything else. Of course, there are people out there of other races that do the same with their children. But, more Asian families are prone to doing this. In fact, there is a book called, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, which is written by Amy Chua. This book describes an extremely strict Chinese mother, and a story of her family’s journey. But what most people don’t think about is the other side of the story. Many teens always complain about their uptight Asian parents, but they never hear their parents’ thoughts. When I asked an Asian parent if she was ever stereotyped, she said “People think that all Indians are highly competitive, although that’s not true. My new boss thought that I was highly innovative because I am an Asian.” This got me to ponder many things. I believe that Asians parents are strict not only BECAUSE of their culture, but because they want their kids to live up to their full potential and come up in life. They don’t want anyone to doubt their abilities. When they first came to this country as immigrants, they WERE doubted of their abilities. Another Asian parent says, “When I first came to this country since people knew I was Indian, they assumed that I couldn’t speak any English.” They push their children so much, because they don’t want their kids to be treated that way. They want them to succeed without being underestimated.

Statistics and Actuality
According to the US Justice and Education departments, Asian American teens are bullied more than youths belonging to any other group. The percentage of Asians bullied in a classroom is 54%. All of this, just because we’re “smart”? How about all of the Asians that aren’t particularly intelligent? And, YES they DO exist. How do you think they feel? Shouldn’t we deserve more respect for bringing our school’s reputation up? Is it really our “smart genes”, or is it the way we look on the outside? As soon as someone sees an Asian with glasses and a book in her hand, there is one thought that pops up in your head. “Smart Asian, let’s copy off her math test!” What you don’t notice is that she’s new, she’s smart but she hates math. All she wants is a true friend. She’s hilarious, and crazy and completely spontaneous. You don’t know any of these things because you don’t get to know HER. So it’s time for teens to open their eyes, and look past the Asian stereotype. You have to give Asians a chance, and realize that they aren’t all brains all the time. In fact, you might even be surprised about what you discover.

Join the Discussion

This article has 18 comments. Post your own now!

Alexandria.Au said...
Mar. 1 at 1:36 am
I love your article very much! I related to practically everything on this page! My parents moved me to an all white school when I was 8 and I was bullied ever since. I didn't make any friend until grade 5, when I started to stand up for myself. Yes, even though I say I made friends, I made some decisions I totally regret now. I rejected most gifted programs my teachers offered because I thought it hurt my friend's feelings but turns out she was just looking out to be the top student o... (more »)
Elizabeth25 said...
Aug. 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm
It's great to know there are people that understand what I go through! All those whispers behind my back... all those people who expect me to get A+'s all the time...I can tell this is written from the heart.
Aynonymous said...
Jun. 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm
I love this! I'm Chinese and frequently called know-it-all. I hear people say when I walk by: Did you hear that Sophie (not my real name) got a 100% on that test/quiz? (other person replies:) Of course she did! She's so smart, I bet her Asian genes are why. She doesn't even have to work hard and study to get good grades! I hate when people say that, and I have told my non-asian friends, but they don't understand. They just tried to explain to me how 'most asians are smart so calling you a ... (more »)
Xx_dontdothis_xX said...
May 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm
kinda biased. Liked the article, now I have more of an idea as to why the Asian parent stereotype pushes their children so hard.
xXc00paa117Xx said...
Apr. 27, 2016 at 7:37 am
Very interesting. You really gave an amazing and well-written response to a difficult and awkward topic. Very well done, I enjoyed reading it!
Emma said...
Apr. 13, 2016 at 7:59 pm
I was always that smart white girl. I was the only white kid on the math team and always got straight As. I worked hard I got 99% percentile on standardized tests. I took the sat at age 12. I scored high and better than my Asian friends who also took the sat. I knew of only one other white kid who took the sat with me. I was also offered in 11th grade to go to middle Georgia and do two years of college and my last years of high school in two years. Despite all of this I was still called nerd but... (more »)
Aynonymous replied...
Jun. 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm
I'm really sorry you had to go through that! I completely agree; this stereotyping doesn't just hurt Asians. Don't listen to those people; they are jerks!
TheEmptyUniverse This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 11, 2015 at 1:58 pm
It's funny, because my grandpa is Iranian. You can tell my mom has middle eastern/asian blood, but you can't see it in me. My mom pushes me so much. I'm in two AP classes and the rest are honors. I had a high C in AP World, and I swear that when she saw that, fire came spewing out of her eyes and mouth. I busted my butt even more bringing that grade up, and she's happy with the B... but she wants an A. And she understands that I'm a fifteen year-old taking the equivalent of a college course. cx ... (more »)
sharpened_pencil This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 11, 2015 at 9:43 pm
Oh my goodness thank you so much for writing this! I've been picked on for being the shy, socially awkward and "smart" Asian girl all my life, and it annoyed me so much. Luckily it doesn't happen anymore but it is important to inform people that these stereotypes hurt! Thank you!
ShuviTheGeek said...
May 20, 2015 at 11:05 am
I LOVE this article! Oh my god, I'm Indian and I can totally relate to this. I'm always the victim of Asian stereotypes, and like you said, it does hurt a bit. Overall, this article was VERY relatable and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! :D Great job!
raw_ambition replied...
Jul. 17, 2015 at 1:40 pm
@ShuviTheGeek thank you!
ASIANIAN said...
May 13, 2015 at 5:38 am
Asians are more mind active when it comes to life. Most of Asians regardless of regions of origin experienced hardships in life. Like not knowing what to eat later, or not being accepted to a jop because of skin tone, or being the breadwinner of a family with such a young age. A lot of these in different parts of Asia. Growing up with these environments opens the eyes to reality of life. Vs. The U.S. living which is all good and perfect as all opportunities are there, if the children wants... (more »)
TheBesst replied...
Mar. 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm
Thats a stereotype lol.
Australian Lad said...
Apr. 28, 2015 at 12:31 am
I know right! I got called an Asian the other day, and I'm Australian!
DepressedAnimeFan said...
Feb. 27, 2015 at 8:17 pm
Yes. I completely agree. I've been harassed for fulfilling the smart Asian stereotype. WTF is wrong with these children?! They don't do their work, copy off of my math and science even if I hate math, and then call out all these Asian jokes? That's not right!
h~ELL~o replied...
Mar. 17, 2015 at 3:07 am
Ugh, tell me about it. "You're only good at Japanese because you're Asian!" I'm Indonesian *cries*
Australian lad replied...
Apr. 28, 2015 at 12:35 am
Indonesian pfft we all know asians can speak all other asian language's i call fake!!!
BipolarWeeb replied...
May 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm
@Australian lad WT Heck? I'm chinese and I only speak mandarin and japanese.
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