Last summer, as I was thinking about what to do for my upcoming Thesis, I came up with two ideas that I felt passionate would work. One was about the history of vampires, which I had originally submitted to Bob in the spring and got an approval. The other idea I had was about stereotypes of Asian Americans. In the end, I went with the vampires because I thought it would give me a good variety of images, and because I didn’t know if the stereotypes would do that for me.
While I am happy about my choice (I got to do some interesting pieces like Robert Pattinson being fawned over by females), I still want to address the Asian American stereotypes. I think it’s important to bring attention to them, because they’re still persistent today, often through sheer ignorance. Take this fine gentleman for instance, Samuel Hendrickson of Indiana:
He posted this March 6, 2013 to his Facebook as a joke, entitled “Why I’d Hate to Be Asian”. It quickly became apparent that no one found it funny, and he has since taken the original post down (actually, he has taken down his entire Facebook account, due to all the criticism he has been receiving). However, it was copied to Youtube several times, and has become somewhat viral since then.
Hendrickson has put out an apology, but I don’t really think that’s the point. Why did he think it was all right to make this and post it in the first place? Why did he immediately go to every Asian stereotype out there (i.e. – short height, being good at math, looking alike, etc)? Why did he think nothing bad would happen? If he was posting, for example, about African Americans, he would’ve thought twice about it.
I think it really boils down to the fact that he didn’t know any better- if he had thought beforehand “Gee, what I made might be offensive and cause backlash”, then he could’ve avoided this mess. Instead, he thought it was fine to mock an entire ethnicity of diverse nationalities and histories, and did not expect anything bad to happen. As it turns out, he was wrong on both accounts.
So expect some upcoming work from me about Asian American stereotypes. I can’t say I have an exact timeline of when things will come out, but this recent example of ignorant racism has motivated me to work on the idea. I will say that I had thought of maybe creating a poster of the finished works to be promos if this had been my Thesis; something of a identifying poster for people to see exactly what stereotypes are prevalent.
To end, here are some of my favorite rebuttals so far to Samuel Hendrickson’s “Why I’d Hate to Be Asian”: