Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Too Asian?"

Being an Asian, I was immediately drawn to the title of this book when I saw it in the UBC book store. This is why I have so quickly gotten a copy of it after I came back to Toronto. To clarify, the full name of the book is "Too Asian?": Racism, Privilege, and Post-Secondary Education, and it has several authors, who each writes one or more chapters/essays.

The beginning was interesting in that it explained the basic ideology of affirmative action and why the author believed it was right. It allowed me to see things in a different way— that affirmative action may not just be a political thing, but could indeed be a "fair" measure used to nullify the effects of past unfairness. Notice the "fair" in quotation marks though, because I still think it's unfair. The author argued that just because Asians have done well despite being unfairly treated in the past, it doesn't mean affirmative action shouldn't be used on other minority groups. However, why then would it be fair to Asian students? Why would it be fair for Asian students to have to be evaluated with higher standards just because past Asian students have done well?

The next chapter discussed more about the "yellow peril" as well as gender issues. It talked about how the traditionally privileged group becomes alarmed when the traditional minority groups— Asians and females— begin to do well. It's very sad that even recently, articles like "Too Asian?" and slogans like "Only White Men Can Save our University" are still being produced by our society.

To be honest though, I found the rest of the book to be quite boring, and I admit to skipping a lot of paragraphs. From what I remember, there were several sections that talked about indigenous people in Canada, responses to the "Too Asian" Macleans article, and racism in general . There were many student anecdotes, which I really didn't like. If felt to me that some of the authors made broad conclusions based on the experiences of a few people.

Overall, I think many sections of this book are boring and repetitive, and of course, I didn't agree with many of the points made by the authors. However, there's no doubt that the book discusses several important issues that people today should be interested in, and I am glad that reading this book has gotten me to think more about these issues.