American Born Chinese

Asians that come to America for education or for work always get judged by the way they dress, talk, eat and even smell. Jin Wang in American Born Chinese is a great example of what some, if not most, Asians have to endure to get to where they want to be in life.

The yellow peril perception of Asians is completely depicted by Chin-Kee in the novel, American Born Chinese. When he first comes to his cousin’s house, they show the father saying “I’ll put your luggage in your room, Chin-Kee” (Yang 48). The words aren’t the yellow peril part, its Chin-Kee’s actual luggage that shows this yellow peril. The dad is holding Chinese carry out boxes as Chin-Kee’s luggage, which shows a stereotype. When Chin-Kee goes to school with Danny, Danny gets laughed at because of the way Chin-Kee dresses and then he eats cat at lunch, which depicts the total stereotype of Asians eating cats/dogs. This whole idea of yellow peril is shown throughout the course of the graphic novel but the most significant part was when two students pulled their eyes to make them look like the stereotypical Asian shaped eyes and then started to giggle because they thought it was funny. This interaction happened on page 121 and it totally shows the yellow peril stereotype. The model minority myth is a big stereotype that Asians have to deal with when they come to America. Chin-Kee is a shows a good example of this myth because when he goes to class with Danny, the professor asks students questions and Chin-Kee is the only one that knows all of the answers. This is a great example of this myth because it is supposed to be the Asians are super intelligent and hard working and Chin-Kee shows that in this scene. It is difficult for Danny because he doesn’t know the answer so he is feeling jealous of how Chin-Kee can answer all questions in any subject. I believe that Miami students feel the same way, not me personally but other students, because they feel like it is unfair that they get a great grade but they don’t realize they had to work really hard for it.

Asian students try to become Americanized to fit in since they are perpetually judged and saw as foreign. The best example of trying to fit in and assimilate with the American Culture is when on page 98 that Jin made his hair look like the “cool” white kids hair so then he could get the cute girl at the school. This is the greatest example of trying to fit in and/or assimilating to the American culture because Jin made his hair look like the white boys so he didn’t look different. Asian students everywhere try to do things to try to fit in, like I have noticed just being at Miami for a semester that the students that can’t speak English very well, do the peace sign in every photo. This is because they have probably seen people do that and they think to themselves that they should do it too, just to be like the American kids. Another great example is that Miami Asian students try to dress in the classic “fraternity” look because they see that most of the population looks this certain way so they feel like they have to so they could fit in.

Jin is a great example of not accepting himself as who he is; because he decided to change the way he looked to impress people. Asian students shouldn’t have to feel that in order to feel accepted; they have to change who they are as a person. When Jin changed his hairstyle, he started to act differently toward his best friend Wei-Chen. Since Jin started acting different, he lost his friend Wei-Chen even though Chen helped Jin get the pretty white girl in the school. Jin lost sight of who is was as a person in order to get what he desired. This doesn’t need to happen, if the school in American Born Chinese would have a “buddy system” like Miami then some of these things would be prevented. Miami needs to expand on their responsibility to help the Asian American students’ transition to the American culture and school system. Students should get special help because some still have trouble speaking English and some don’t understand what we mean when we say certain things. I know from a personal experience that it was very difficult to interact with one of my group members because they didn’t understand me but we were able to figure it out by typing out what we wanted to say/do. I believe that something like expanding the “buddy system” would really help the Asian American students because the student I interacted with seemed very grateful that I went through the trouble to keep him in the loop.

Asians face diversity, discrimination and stereotypes everyday of their lives here in America and I believe that if we did a few more things, we could help stop it and make their experience a lot better.

Works Cited
Yang, Gene Luen., and Lark Pien. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006.

Leave a Reply