Saturday, October 26, 2013

Asian Kids Are Getting Bullied And It's Probably Your Fault

Act #299:  Ask yourself the hard questions.

Did you know that 54% of Asian teens between the ages of 12-18 experience bullying in the classroom?  That is on average, a staggering 20% higher than the bullying that White, Hispanic, and Black teens experience.  Please allow that to sink in.  1 out of every 2 Asians that you meet will have experienced bullying in their lifetime.  The study also showed that 62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites.  

Is this acceptable to anybody who is reading this?  And please don't give me the "kids will be kids" justification for this - that kids are just mean to each other, that it has nothing to do with race - because if that was indeed the case, why then would an entire category of children experience bullying 20% more than their peers?  In case you want all the statistics, here are the results of the 2009 survey conducted by the U.S. Justice and Education Department which interviewed 6,500 students from the ages of 12-18:

54% of Asian-American teens reported bullying in the classroom
38.4% of Black teens reported bullying in the classroom
34.3% of Hispanic teens reported bullying in the classroom
31.3% of White teens reported bullying in the classroom

I know what you're thinking.  Not my kid.  We take him to the international festival every year, and I have Sriracha in my fridge!  My kid couldn't possibly grow up to bully someone because of their race.  Well, newsflash people:  someone's kids out there are contributing to these statistic and there's a good chance they could be yours.  And if so, chances are, that you probably should bear at least some responsibility for this.  Yes, I know that is a hard pill to swallow, particularly for all my fellow Obama-loving, peace-rallying, petition-signing friends out there.  You did not raise a racist.  I hear you.  But could we collectively be contributing to a culture of prejudice, non-acceptance, and violence towards Asians without even knowing it?  Well, let us explore this possibility.  

Are you planning on wrapping your family up in soft, flannel blankets on the couch this holiday season with steaming cups of hot chocolate while watching "A Christmas Story"?  Will you giggle at the Chinese restaurant scene when the waiters sing Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra and the "smiling" roasted duck head gets chopped off at its neck?  How else will you model to your kids the perpetuation of stereotypes that portray Asians as socially inept, barbaric, and perpetually foreign?

For all the privileged:  during your last family vacation, did you ever consider selecting India, Thailand, or the Philippines as a destination rather than Italy, France, Australia..........or perhaps Disney World?  Or is it more in your comfort zone to vacation amongst people who already look, act, and talk like you - and thus never affording your children the opportunity to be immersed in the regular and ordinary lives of people who don't?

And for the not-so-privileged:  have you ever taken your young children to an Asian grocery store where you can get fresh, beautiful basil by the bunch four times cheaper than you can at Kroger?    And if you do this, please don't treat the experience like a trip to the Smithsonian, and patronize the regulars by making every aisle a teachable moment to your kids.  THIS is how the rest of the world lives.  Not everyone shops at Kroger.

When's the last time your family talked about the diverse contributions of an Asian-American (and other ethnic minorities, for that matter) at the dinner table?   And Connie Chung was so last decade.  Here are five more contemporary Asian-Americans your kids would love to hear about:

For the love of God, would it kill you to have more than one token Asian friend?  I mean, I enjoy the attention and all, but it wouldn't hurt my feelings for you to spread the love around a bit.  Really.

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