4 Asian stereotypes you’re tired of hearing as an international student

4 Asian stereotypes you're tired of hearing as an international student
Asian are more than just good grades and high expectations. Let's debunk these 4 Asian stereotypes. Source: Eugene Hoshiko/POOL/AFP

“Do you know my cousin from Korea?” If that sounds familiar, then you likely heard of more Asian stereotypes that have ticked you off. 

Worse, these stereotypes can spread harmful attitudes towards Asian individuals and communities

One study done by Princeton University psychologist Susan Fiske and her team showed that people usually assess a group in two dimensions: warmth and competence.

If you are warm and competent, you are sociable and smart. 

According to the team’s findings, Asians are cold but competent. This can prompt other racial groups to respond with anger and harm.

Such Asian stereotypes are, like any other stereotype, oversimplified. Let’s debunk the top four Asian stereotypes you’ve probably heard on campus:

asian stereotypes

Some of you grew up with these Asian stereotypes. Source: Jung Yeon-je/AFP

4 Asian stereotypes debunked

You’re Chinese? Do you know (anyone with the last name Lee, Kim, or Chang)?

We get it: there are a lot of Asians around the world. After all, about 1.3 billion people come from China, according to The Atlantic. That’s equal to the populations of North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and all of Western Europe — combined. 

There are, however, many kinds of Asians. Some examples include East Asians, South East Asians, and Western Asians.  

Even if they are from the same region, they might come from the same country. It is possible, though, for some Asians to share a similar culture, tradition, or practice.

Asians are good at math

Stop reading and Google the “smartest countries in the world.” Chances are, you would see an Asian country on the list. What’s more, Asian countries are among the top performers in math.

It’s no wonder why your friends constantly ask you to count the bill. 

Don’t worry, though, if you’re bad at math. This is just one of many classic Asian stereotypes, so don’t feel down if you are slow with numbers.

asian stereotypes

Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, made a name for himself when he won the All-England championship — one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious badminton tournaments — in 2021. Source: Adek Berry/AFP

Asians aren’t athletic unless it’s in martial arts

Did your friends think of this after watching movies starring famous Asian martial artists like Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Bruce Lee? 

It’s easy to see why this is a popular Asian stereotype. Many popular martial arts like taekwondo, karate, and aikido come from Asia.

In fact, many parents encourage their kids to take up martial arts when in school since it teaches them discipline and improves their physical fitness.   

That doesn’t mean Asians aren’t athletic. Jeremy Lin was the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA, a famous professional basketball league in North America. 

Lee Zii Jia, a Malaysian badminton superstar, made a name for himself when he won the All-England championship — one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious badminton tournaments — in 2021.

You are the perfect child

Do you practise the piano? Are you constantly pressured to do the “right” thing? 

It’s easy to see why people may view you as being the perfect child. After all, family is a huge part of your culture.

You may also feel the need to please your parents and make the best out of their investment. 

Have you wondered why this is the case?

It could be due to filial piety — a value the Chinese community still upholds, where children should respect, love and take care of their parents to give back and honour them.

That’s not to say that all Asian children are like this. While it’s rare, some Asian families practise Western parenting styles.