- Oct 25, 2017
We need more stories about Asian Americans. Especially the underachieving ones.
It might sound strange, but an Asian-American lead character playing a low achiever might just be what our community needs right now. The story of Asians in America is happy one at first glance — as the nation’s fastest growing racial group, we’re seen as educated “model minority” citizens who have earned society’s respect. But Asian American achievement often faces backlash.
Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske has found that people evaluate groups along two primary dimensions: warmth (friendly, trustworthy) and competence (capable, effective). Numerous surveys have found that white Americans generally receive high marks for both warmth and competence, while black and Latinx Americans are seen as less competent and get mixed results on warmth, both depending on factors like income and profession. Meanwhile, Asians and Jewish people are seen in these surveys as highly competent but colder, less friendly and maybe untrustworthy. These stereotypes can lead to feelings of envy, an ambivalent emotion that Fiske says is a mix of both admiration and resentment.
Fully developed depictions of Asian Americans are rare and increasingly important — as an envied outside group, Asian Americans are in “a dangerous place,” Fiske told me. While people might generally cooperate with us because we’re useful, in times of perceived competition for scarce resources, we can face “attack and sabotage.”
I don't think this is news to anyone in this thread, but I like the premise.These biases follow us into the workplace. A 2016 study looking at 106,000 Silicon Valley tech workers found that among professionals, Asian Americans make up the largest racial cohort. But once employed, we were the least likely among all races to get promoted to be managers or executives.
My research on Asian American men has found that we’re more likely to be recognized for working hard or our technical skills than for being creative or our leadership ability. We’re hired for our competence, but can’t seem to ascend.
Do you think it's worth a cross post in the main forum?