Tackling Asian Privilege

Gavin McInnes, Takimag, March 1, 2013

Amidst the hubris of the pope calling it quits and Miss Delaware relinquishing her sash due to porn allegations, it’s important we take a step back and discuss the elephant in the room—namely, racism. While the world collapses around us and we all complain about how hard it is to get by, people of color are forced to look up to our position and say, “I’d give the world for your problems.” This is because no matter how bad things appear to be, they are always worse when you are born without privileges.

Nobody clutches their purse to their side when an Asian walks into the elevator. If an Asian applies for a job at a bank or on the police force, he or she is welcomed with open arms. When an Asian commits a crime, people are shocked. When an Asian is appointed to the head of the Department of Energy, everyone knowingly nods their head. Asian privilege pervades every part of our day-to-day life and it’s time they joined the conversation about race.

Though they comprise less than 4.8% of the American population, they make up 8.3% of all doctors. Only 2.3% of doctors are African American, yet they’re 13% of the population. Thirty percent of African American men will go to jail, but only 1.6% of prisoners are Asian. Nobody sees the problem with that?

McGill University is one of the most elite schools in North America, and to walk through their campus is to be transported into a pastoral Chinatown. This is true of all Ivy League schools. Asian Americans have the highest education level of any racial demographic and they’re also the wealthiest. While African American households earned an average of $30,939 in 2005, Asian Americans walked away with twice that.

The reason for this is simple: PRIVILEGE.

Though many Asians come here with little or no money and live in rough neighborhoods, they are lifted out of this disadvantage within a generation and are soon living an upper-middle-class lifestyle. This is because in America, Asians live a disproportionately advantaged life where things are simply handed to them. {snip} Asians are overrepresented in science, medicine, law, finance, education, and virtually everything that generates wealth. They are drastically overrepresented in Nobel Prizes. These arrogant Orientals flaunt the racist moniker “model minority.” As a people, these Asians need to recognize they got to where they are not by the virtue of hard work but by stepping on the backs of others. {snip}

Asian privilege is, if you will, an “invisible knapsack” of unearned perks and benefits that an Asian is able to unpack wherever he or she goes—even if they aren’t in Asia. Asian privilege is very, very real and yet nobody’s talking about it. {snip}

When one opens the discourse to this taboo we learn many terms that had previously been ignored. “Earned strength” is very different from “unearned power.” Asians are “overprivileged” and enjoy this “unacknowledged power” in a totally “incognizant” way. Privilege can look like power when it is in fact permission to escape or dominate. You don’t need epicanthic folds to see that simply by the virtue of their success Asians are seriously and systematically oppressing people of color. To be overrepresented in a field is to dominate those who are not proportionately represented. Whether they know it or not, simply existing can be tantamount to a hate crime.

So what do we do? How do we change the latent inequality that Asians exploit? Do we penalize them? Ideally we would, but no, we don’t. The first thing we have to do is join the conversation. Using your voice is the first step to raising awareness, not just parochially but in a transnational sense. We need to redesign social systems where Asians are not 75% to 80% of university mathematics departments. By staying cloaked in the myth of meritocracy we are denying the latent power of the underprivileged.

Look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki today and look at Detroit. While Asians are constantly flooded with opportunities to rebuild, cities of color are left to rot. {snip}

{snip}

Let’s work together to break the silence. A drop in the bucket seems small until you see all the ripples it makes. To tackle Asian privilege and bring them down to where the rest of us are, we need systemic change on a global level. The government needs to get involved. Tax dollars have to be used and you can be sure jobs will be created. Asian American success has been awarded to them arbitrarily and it’s up to us to take back the power and eradicate this unearned system of advantage. We need to transform society to the point where privilege is not slanted in anyone’s favor.

[Editor’s Note: Be sure to read the read important follow-up to this piece here.]

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