Asian Privilege

It does not exist.

There’s your answer, there is no such thing as Asian privilege.  If there was, then my being Asian would be seen in the same light as someone’s whiteness.  I would get job offers, leadership positions, educational opportunities, etc. because of my being Asian.  But in reality, that does not happen.

Claiming that Asians have privilege just by being Asian through the scope of “trends” such as the “model minority” myth ignores the history of anti-Asian sentiment in Western societies.

Granted, Asians have a higher income level, lower unemployment rate, and several other positive marks on differing factors in comparison to other communities of color.  However, this has much more to do with the ability of many Asian-Americans to obtain higher levels of education.  Such marks are lower for people with only relatively sub-par educational attainments and even lower for those without the opportunities for such to begin with.  Asian-Americans with “some college” educational attainment or lower are still more likely to be unemployed than White Americans with the same educational attainment.  And, in fact, we face the highest level of chronic unemployment out of all racial/ethnic minority groups in America.

Also granted, socially, I am seen as brown and, thus, data related to Pinoy or Latinx Americans more closely reflect issues that face me.

Just because I am Brown does not mean that I am not Asian, I am both in the American context.

However, I feel that it is important to talk about Asian “privilege” because too many people use it as an excuse to ignore issues that face the Asian community.  Having the highest chronic unemployment rate, lowest rate of media representation, systematic discrimination and hate crimes, and other factors that affect all Asians (regardless of color) unfortunately go ignored in the scope of the Black-White racial binary that most Americans buy into.  This results in the “otherness” of Brown, Yellow, and Red people and the issues that face us.  And, unfortunately, this means that we can feel as if we are foreign and have no place in this American society.  We may be seen by many to benefit from privilege due to certain traits such as our general income level (I am low-income) and light skin (I am proud of my Brown skin) but we cannot use these as excuses for anti-Asian, anti-Brown, anti-Latinx and anti-Native sentiments perpetuated by the very denial of issues that face our marginalized communities.

People like Mike Cho are murdered by the police because they simply were not white, Asians are nearly nowhere to be found on the boards of Fortune 500 companies, both Black and Asian youth face a crooked educational system in poor neighborhoods, and other Asian issues continue to be ignored because we are the “other”.  This categorization and diminishing of the subjugation that Asians face in America is purely erasure and it has to stop!  We cannot allow our society to fall into this myth and fall for the trick that Asians are “privileged” when we historically have been subjugated in the same way and, in fact, my Pinoy-American heritage was marked with a past of Jim Crow and anti-miscegnation laws.

Our brown and yellow skin, Asian features, and perceived privilege in society often make us easy targets by even other communities of color because of our otherness.  Our otherness also disadvantages us in economic terms when it comes to unemployment and diminished paths to leadership positions within the jobs that we hold.  Our otherness, in fact, subjugates us to hate crimes and police brutality and makes some people suspicious of us.

Our otherness is perpetuated by forces of white supremacy and cannot be accepted, doing so enforces division among communities of color that does not need to occur.  If you care about Black Lives Matter, if you care about ending racial inequities, and if you care about ending patriarchal systems, then you should care about issues that face the Asian-American community and educate yourself on how wrong the “model minority” myth is about us.

Read more about Pinoy-American history here.

Read more about Pinoy-American history in the state of Washington here.

Read about the Hispanic identity of Pinoys here.

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