Stereotypes in "American Born Chinese" Essay examples
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All women are too sensitive! All Mexicans are illegal immigrants! If you’re from the South, then you are ignorant! Most people have heard at least one of these stereotypes pertaining to a certain group. Some people believe them whilst others do not. American Born Chinese illustrates three stories depicting the custom of stereotypes surrounding society: “The Monkey King”, the story of Monkey King’s thirst for infinite power, and his quest for atonement; “Jin Wang”, the story an awkward boy who tries to “fit in” the community around from but constantly fails; and “Danny”, the story about a high schooler who feels uncomfortable by his stereotypically negative Chinese cousin Chin-Kee. In this day-and-age, stereotypes are what bring people…show more content…
The stereotype “Chinese people are really smart” is also bought into light as the well-crafted character Chin-Kee answers all the questions correctly while people just stare vacantly in the background:
Female Teacher: The Nina, the Pinta, and the-
Chin-Kee: Santa Malia!
Male Teacher: The ulna is connected to the-
Chin-Kee: Humelus! (Yang 112).
To some people this is not be viewed as a stereotype due to the fact it is not instantly perceived as “negative”; for those readers who delve in deeper, this stereotype outlines the educational daily hidden pressure of people from Chinese descent whom do not fit this “positive” stereotype. Every day, especially in American society, classmates look to their Asian counterparts to provide the answers to questions they do not know in every subject they take. Nonetheless, this ridiculous assumption hurts the Asian students that do not feel comfortable with their intellectual abilities. Placing Asian students as the “model student” excludes the students who actually have problems and need help that other classmates are reluctant to give the students simply because their classmates do not view helping their struggling Asian classmates as an actual necessity. By “poking” fun and bringing into light both Asian stereotypes, Yang enforces view that stereotypes are in use today. Likewise, both the “Jin Wang” and “Danny”
What does it mean to be American? Historian Philip Gleason once said, ”To be or to become an American, a person did not have to be any particular national, learning languages, religious, or ethnic background. All he had to do was to commit himself to the political ideology centered on the abstract ideals of liberty, equality, and republicanism. Thus the universalist ideological character of American nationality meant that it was open to anyone who willed to become an American.” Essentially, what Gleason is saying is that all one has to do is act like an American and embrace the American way of life, but is this really what it means to actually be American? In this essay I will explore whether or not it is enough to embrace the culture, or if there is more to identifying yourself as an American by examining some key elements of American culture.
One of the big defining factors in terms of being an American is embracing the right of free speech. Outside of the United States, many people would say that Americans are loud and obnoxious, or perhaps if they were being a little kinder they might say that Americans can be very upfront! This is because freedom of speech is a big part of the American culture and citizens are very much encouraged to speak their mind and freely express their own opinions. This can seem a little overbearing in other cultures where this is not the norm, but once people realize that American’s are not being intentionally rude they often come to understand that it can actually be very useful to simply state what you mean, rather than try to be polite and end up making ambiguous statements. As Ghandi once said, ‘A “no” uttered from the deepest conviction is better and greater then a “yes” uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.’ Freedom of speech is something that is so important to American culture that it is actually protected by The First Amendment to the United states Constitution, although of course there are restrictions! Freedom of speech does not give Americans the right to engage in hate speech. After all, another part of American life is the acceptance of various cultures and religions that may be different to your own.
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This leads us to the next important point – being American means that you are part of one of the most diverse cultures in the world. America is one of very few countries in the world where it is near impossible to define the nationality by one race, ancestry or religion. America is a melting pot of different cultures and religions and it is difficult to find anyone who does not come from immigrant bloodlines from Europe and Africa. In fact, some say that anyone not of Native American decent is actually not technically American! However, we do not use race or ancestry to determine what it means to be American. This is not what defines us, but rather our unique political, economic and social values. To drive home the fact that Americans are from all manner of backgrounds we need only look to the Great Seal of the United States which reads ”E pluribus unum”. This translates to English as From many, one. So, being American is not being of one particular race or religion. It may not even mean being born in the United States, taking the citizenship test and becoming a citizen can also make someone an American if they are able to fully embrace what America stands for.
When most people think of America, some of the first things that come to mind are words like freedom or liberty. We have already touched on this when taking about freedom of speech, but freedom and liberty are very important in the American culture and are a big part of what it means to be an American. American citizens have the freedom to live the lives that they choose and are passionate about retaining that right which so many of their predecessors have fought and died for.
In conclusion, to be American is not as simple as being born in the United States. To be an American is about embracing the culture and way of life. Americans can enjoy freedom of speech and are part of a diverse and rich culture. An American is someone who embraces freedom and liberty. In short, to be an American, it is necessary to embrace the culture and become a part of it regardless of where you were actually born!
Philip Gleason, “American Identity and Americanization,” in Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephan Thernstrom (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1980), 31–32, 56–57.