‘Paper Tigers’: Wesley Yang’s Lost Entitlement?

The hubbub surrounding New York Magazine‘s new article “Paper Tigers” by Wesley Yang began last night during the Thunder- Grizzlies Playoff game with an angry tweet from a NYC guy named Hyun Kim.

“Struggling through @nymag‘s “Paper Tigers.” I hate this guy 4 paragraphs in …”

Naturally, I was curious and then this morning, Twitter was abuzz citing Yang’s “self-hatred” and knack for finding other men that feel the same about their general Asian-ness. Here’s a quote that struck me:

“Listen,” he told Hong, “I’m going to be honest with you. My generation came to this country because we wanted better for you kids. We did the best we could, leaving our homes and going to graduate school not speaking much English. If you take this job, you are just going to hit the same ceiling we did. They just see me as an Asian Ph.D., never management potential. You are going to get a job offer, but don’t take it. Your generation has to go farther than we did, otherwise we did everything for nothing.”

The researcher was talking about what some refer to as the “Bamboo Ceiling”—an invisible barrier that maintains a pyramidal racial structure throughout corporate America, with lots of Asians at junior levels, quite a few in middle management, and virtually none in the higher reaches of leadership.

Then I read Sam Han‘s critique of “Paper Tigers” entitled “#Asianpeopleproblems: A Critique of ‘Paper Tigers’ ” and it was delightful. Here are a few excerpts that I found pretty smart.

“While Yang tries to balance the “de-Asianification” of ethos and values in the former example with the latter, I see a common thread running in the argumentative function in both, which ineluctably serve as “types of response to being Asian”: the desire not only to be white but to be white men, that is, to be like the top of the racial-gender strata. There is no hint of questioning the strata itself. What we are left with is quite frankly a meditation on how to acquire white privilege, not the questioning of the value-system of privileging based on race and gender itself.”

I find race and gender relations wildly interesting so I literally wanted to roll around in Han’s article and after reading the NY Mag piece I had to agree. Don’t question why you can’t have white privilege without asking why there is white privilege in the first place and how to destroy it. Thoughts?

props to @Aqua174 for tweeting @caughtintheweb’s article

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