June 2011 NYAPM Book Club “Paper Tigers-What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?”
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 7:30 PM — PLEASE BE PROMPT!
As a courtesy to us, please RSVP:
Compared to our monthly Happy Hours that regularly get 100s of attendees, the book club meetings are significantly smaller events where Asian professionals get together in a more intimate environment to chat over dinner and drinks.
This event, like all our events, is free for members and non-members alike — BUT please buy at least one drink to support our venue.
The article we will be discussing is Paper Tigers-What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?, by Wesley Yang.
You can read it here:
- http://nymag.com/news/features/asian-americans-2011-5/ (11 pages)
- http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/asian-americans-2011-5/ (print-friendly)
- PaperTigers (14 page PDF)
Here are a few paragraphs from the article:
Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: an invisible person, barely distinguishable from a mass of faces that resemble it. A conspicuous person standing apart from the crowd and yet devoid of any individuality. An icon of so much that the culture pretends to honor but that it in fact patronizes and exploits. Not just people “who are good at math” and play the violin, but a mass of stifled, repressed, abused, conformist quasi-robots who simply do not matter, socially or culturally.
Earlier this year, the publication of Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother incited a collective airing out of many varieties of race-based hysteria. But absent from the millions of words written in response to the book was any serious consideration of whether Asian-Americans were in fact taking over this country. If it is true that they are collectively dominating in elite high schools and universities, is it also true that Asian-Americans are dominating in the real world? My strong suspicion was that this was not so, and that the reasons would not be hard to find. If we are a collective juggernaut that inspires such awe and fear, why does it seem that so many Asians are so readily perceived to be, as I myself have felt most of my life, the products of a timid culture, easily pushed around by more assertive people, and thus basically invisible?
The researcher was talking about what some refer to as the “Bamboo Ceiling”—an invisible barrier that maintains a pyramidal racial structure throughout corporate America, with lots of Asians at junior levels, quite a few in middle management, and virtually none in the higher reaches of leadership.
The failure of Asian-Americans to become leaders in the white-collar workplace does not qualify as one of the burning social issues of our time. But it is a part of the bitter undercurrent of Asian-American life that so many Asian graduates of elite universities find that meritocracy as they have understood it comes to an abrupt end after graduation. If between 15 and 20 percent of every Ivy League class is Asian, and if the Ivy Leagues are incubators for the country’s leaders, it would stand to reason that Asians would make up some corresponding portion of the leadership class.
By contrast, the white lawyers he encountered had a knack for portraying themselves as above all that. “White people have this instinct that is really important: to give off the impression that they’re only going to do the really important work. You’re a quarterback. It’s a kind of arrogance that Asians are trained not to have. Someone told me not long after I moved to New York that in order to succeed, you have to understand which rules you’re supposed to break. If you break the wrong rules, you’re finished. And so the easiest thing to do is follow all the rules. But then you consign yourself to a lower status. The real trick is understanding what rules are not meant for you.”
Hope to see you there!
Thai Select (in the Garden Room)
427 Ninth Ave. (btw. 36th and 37th)
New York, NY 10018
Take the A/C/E to 34th St-Penn Station. We’ll be in the semi-private “Garden Room” all the way in the back of the restaurant.