When you are being stereotyped…

Lu Shen - uiowa journalism  Lu Shen - university of iowa - journalism

I attended an event titled, “Breaking stereotypes” last night. The organizer invited a California-based blogger Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man, to give a speech on his experience of 13 years running the blog, writing little offensive things he observes and encounters in life and media.

The organizer, the University of Iowa Asian American Coalition, hoped to raise awareness of tolerance on campus, concerning about the derogatory and even discriminating tweets against Asian students on campus (see more details in this Daily Iowan article). The audience was a mix of Asian American, African American, Caucasian and international students.

Interestingly, when an Asian American student in the audience asked Yu, what the best way would be to break stereotypes, he said, “I’m not so much interested in breaking stereotypes; what I love is people being the truest version of themselves. And if that means you do fulfill some kind of stereotype by being yourself, being the Asian science geek guy, so be it.”

I couldn’t agree more.

A study shows that there are five groups of stereotypes of Chinese international students held by U.S. students:

  1. smart, good at math and science, intelligent, studious and hardworking
  2. kind, friendly, nice, and polite
  3. bad at speaking English, only friends with other Chinese students, not well assimilated to U.S. culture
  4. quiet, shy, a loner, and not very social
  5. oblivious, loud, intrusive on personal space, strange, and never speaks English

Not surprisingly, some are favorable to U.S. students and others not.

A lack of interaction between international and domestic students leads to misunderstanding and stereotyping. If everyone — no matter where you are from — tries to understand others and have more curiosity and cultural sensitivity, we may not even have to talk about stereotypes any more.