Dear Amy Chua,
For the record, my parents allowed me to attend sleepovers. They additionally hosted sleepovers at our house. “Playdates” hadn’t yet been invented, but I spent an inordinate amount of time in the basement of my best friend’s house (and vice versa). I had a part in the musical “Oliver.” I complained that I did not get the lead. My parents let me watch one television show a week. I chose my own extracurricular activities for the most part. Except language school, which I guess was sort of mandatory. Except one of my sibs never went. I’m not really sure why.
I mostly got all A’s. It was usually easy for me. I was aware of the model minority stereotype, and had a good bit of fun with my Spanish teacher when she called for a conference and told me I had an exam average of 99.5 percent. I moaned and promised to try harder in the future. I don’t know how my parents wouldn’t “allow” me not to be the No. 1 student in every subject. I also played an instrument. My teacher was from a famous music conservatory. He thought I was gifted. I am pretty sure that is not true.
I am a genius. I am successful. Also, I have good self esteem. My parents never told me I was lazy or fat. I’m pretty sure I was often lazy.
So fuck you, Amy Chua, for reinforcing that tired old model minority stereotype. For speaking for an entire group of people and ascribing your abusive parenting to your culture.
(I have an in-law who had a horrific childhood with parents who were abusive. By all accounts, he is a loving and gentle man. He also has a Big Important Job and Great Big Impressive Degrees. But I wouldn’t argue that his “success” demands you replicate his parents’ methods. By the way, he’s white.)
Yeah, I have to say I sometimes bought into this stereotype. Despite the fact it went against what I know to be true. I have taken a lot of time to unpack and disassemble this particular bullshit trope. And yet I still found myself thinking, “His parents let him do what?” when I read about fashion designer Jason Wu. He played with dolls as a kid, and his mother drove him to bridal salons so he could look at the dresses.
And fuck you again, Amy Chua, when I think about the high rates of suicides among Asian Americans, especially young women. Fuck you for the fifty percent of crisis calls at the university from Asian American students.
Fuck you for every person who expresses surprise at my chosen profession. Because we don’t do that. Fuck you for all those people who interviewed me and marveled how they didn’t know any Asian Americans in that line of work. Despite the fact I was sitting right in front of them. Because obviously my parents should not have “allowed” me to enter my field.
Fuck you for the abuse kids get because their parents don’t know any better.
Fuck you for the kids who are made to feel like idiots because they are not geniuses. Or musical prodigies. Or the kids who are told that our people don’t speak out, don’t protest, aren’t politically active, aren’t activists.
Fuck you for making us think our parents aren’t proud of us. (I saw Helen Zia and Lia Shigemura’s wedding video. And I saw her mom beaming in the background.)
Fuck you for perpetuating racism. And fuck the Wall Street Journal for promoting your majority view voice.