Archive for the ‘ Prejudice ’ Category

The Affirmative Action Dilemma

So, I’ve finally decided to accept an offer for graduate school education. As I begin the paperwork, I come to the question of why this particular school decided to accept my application. As I contemplated, my mind (as it typically does) diverges to tangent upon tangent. Eventually, my mind came to the tangent of Affirmative Action.

Now, I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. I also didn’t have good grades or a lot of work experience in my favor. So, what could it be that draws them to me? I try not to be terribly cynical of myself, but am reminded of the affirmative action dilemma I faced during my application process.

I remember struggling with the idea of Affirmative Action when deciding what to do about the optional self-identification box. Having a lot of conscientious friends who think critically about the affirmative action policy, I have always been of the mind that it is important to “Decline To State” in order for fairness to remain in my applicaion process. I want to know I have made it there on the full weight of my application alone, and not the color of my skin or the people group with whom I identify myself.

Was there a slip up? Perhaps my essay indicated an emphasis on my cultural understanding as an American Born Chinese which led the admissions committee to focus on that identity over that of my academic merit.

This is yet another chance for me, a chance I do not deserve, to succeed. I am grateful for any participation that Affirmative Action has played in my acceptance. I cannot deny that I believe it to be a factor. Perhaps it is a factor because of my emphasis in international social work and how it helps me to better serve international clients.

A friend once said that I should use whatever I can to get ahead. If it means checking the “Asian” box, then I should do it lest I fail to achieve or receive what I want. As Asian Americans, we need to be able to be confident and strong to grab what we can if it is there for the taking. That is how we get ahead because American culture is not friendly to us.

Yet, I have a sinking feeling of not being worth what I have received. I feel as though I have not truly achieved, that this is a pity gift from those who think themselves better than I, from those who believe I need a lift to be successful in this world. And that is just not right.


Refugees are people too!

by Sporadiwriter

Culture clash is so interesting, isn’t it? What happens when a refugee client completely defies all your expectations and hopes? This is what happened to me the other day. Boy was I in for a shocker!

Quite recently, I had taken a refugee client out for help at the social services building between the hours of 10:00 and 15:00 (10am to 3pm, for those of you who don’t have any clue what the heck I’m talkin’ about =P ). Among our various conversations, I had the opportunity to discuss faith with this particular individual. She asked if I went to church and whether or not I was a Christian. After telling her the name of my church and that it was a Chinese church, she sought further clarification as to whether or not it was a Buddhist church or a Christian church (I suppose she assumed that since I am Chinese, we are mostly Buddhist…which is NOT AT ALL true…we are mostly Atheist and Muslim). I was blatantly asked to explain what I believe. Taken aback, I asked her if she wasn’t already a Christian. Still, she insisted that I explain. So, with great hesitancy I shared my beliefs:

I believe in the Trinity: Father God, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Father God created everything.
He came down to earth as Jesus Christ.
Mary, his mother, was a virgin when she conceived.
Jesus Christ died after being crucified.
He rose again on the third day, bearing the sins of the whole world, and providing salvation for anyone who would believe in him.

Afterwards, I was told that Jesus Christ is the only God. The Trinity is a man-made fabrication and Jesus Christ is the only God that is, was, and will ever be. He is the Creator, came down to earth, and is the Holy Spirit. She kept explaining it over and over again at least 3 times. I continued to try to clarify my understandings of the Trinity as three representations of one God, just as she had believe they were all manifestations of Jesus Christ. Yet, it was all to no avail. In the end, I had to concede to the fact that I believed that she and I had the same beliefs but that it was ok if she disagreed that we shared the same faith. To this, she turned in the opposite direction and sighed. Feeling uncomfortable and threatened, I just sat there in silence and shock, trying to figure out what to do and say next that would lighten the mood of this heavy topic.

With refugees, there are many different factors contributing to misunderstandings on either side: language barrier, lack of knowledge and different understandings. Because of the language barrier, it is unclear how much can be understood, how much is assumed or from knowledge prior to entry into the United States. I cannot fault her for her ways for is it not similar to the ways in which many Christians in North America evangelize to others? Unfortunately, I have never been one such Christian nor did we have the same base of meanings from which to begin a discussion. I also was unsure how to communicate with this individual, as I am unsure what her cultural context is or what type of communication might offend her (high/low context communication), as this is a very sensitive topic even within cultures. Suffice it to say, this experience in culture, theology, and communication clash was a definite eye-opener for me in accepting that reality is not always as I see it.

Refugees should not always receive the esteem and reverence on my pedestal of prevailing.
They are people, too.

Comments Gone Too Far

I find a lot of disturbing things on Facebook. Either I have a lot of weird friends or people attempt to make jokes that are just not funny. I am thinking mostly about the comments said about our president, Mr. Obama when I say that there are a lot of disturbing comments going through my Facebook feed. I kid you not, people were saying during the presidential campaigns that they would move out of the country if Barak Obama is elected. They were saying that he is a socialist and actually believed former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin when she said he was “palling around with terrorists”. I’ve heard lame nicknames like “Obomber”. I got an email from a former friend saying that my support for Obama is the support of murdering millions of unborn babies. I’ve heard reports that people were trying to disprove his U.S. citizenship because he is black. I heard that people were protesting his back to school speech on the assumption that he was promoting propaganda, when in fact, he was not (read transcript for proof). I even heard that one guy during an address to Congress yelled “you lie” to our president.

Now, I don’t really get it, and I don’t think I am missing anything. I am surprised to see how serious racism still is in the U.S.—I thought we made progress! It’s OK and necessary to disagree in politics, but if you start making jabs at our president for no real reason, then that’s probably racism or sheer ignorance.

On Facebook, I commented on picture of a person’s feet facing outward toward the ocean with bars in front, asking why were the bars there. A moment later, someone replied to me saying “It’s Obama’s new prison system haha”. Confused by what this meant, I replied: “Not sure what the ‘prison system’ refers to..” (Maybe his new policy on Guantanamo?) He replied: “Neither am I. It could have been a crack at marriage and the symbol between the two things.” Wait—what? Does any of that make sense to you? So clearly, making jokes for no reason is really funny for some people. If a joke has no meaning or truth, then it’s just not funny. People, it’s time to stop making bad jokes! Comments are getting way out of hand, people are just saying things because they can—because other people don’t counter them when they’re out of line or being unprofessional.