Racism and the Asian Community at Cornell

On April Fool’s day, Cornell blogger (Cornell Watch) D. Evan Mulvihill wrote a satirical posting titled, “Asian Community Center to be Built Adjacent to Uris Library,” with many steroetypes, including the Center to be “replete with a Pokémon Card Trading Arena, a Mi-So Slipi Lounge, and a Chinese restaurant selling cat for consumption.” Mulvihill quickly apologized with the following blog posting: “An Open Apology for a Bad Joke.” As a Cornell alum, I meant to get to posting about this, but just never got around to this.

This past Friday (5/2/08), on the Cornell Daily Sun’s blog site, Mulvihill delves a little deeper in the issue of “Racism and the Asian Community at Cornell:

“…A major part of the problem, as identified by a 2004 task force (A3TF) investigating A3 [A3: Asian & Asian American] issues at Cornell, is “lack of recognition and awareness of the reality, experience, and impact of racism and stereotyping as they relate to Asians and Asian Americans.”..Most Cornellians conceive of Asians as the “model minority”…One of the severe issues facing A3 individuals at Cornell is the alarmingly disproportionate suicide rate among students of Asian descent, in comparison with other ethnicities…. In the A3TF report, researchers found that professors and classmates often held A3 students up to higher academic standards, sometimes causing A3 students to choke under the pressure… the majority of the Cornell community remains at odds with robotic, dehumanized Asians who are incapable of socialization. This stereotype blinds many people from seeing A3 students as anything other than soulless study hogs. Instead of bemoaning the supposed “curve-buster,” try to befriend him or her—you will find that, deep down inside, their hearts are not made of gears and chains…”

If you didn’t know, Cornell has an undeserved reputation for having a lot of suicides. I think mainly because when there are suicide at Cornell, they tend to be pretty dramatic – there are a few bridges that connect to main campus that students can easily jump off of… which the views are literally “breath-taking. In any case, I did not realize until recently that in a Cornell student between the periods of 2003 to 2005, 50% of all the suicides at Cornell were Asian or Asian-American, even though they represent only 17% of the entire Cornell population.

Personally, I don’t recall anything overtly racist against Asians or Asian Americans while attending Cornell in the early 90s. For a school in the Northeast (compared to Californian schools), there are quite a few Asian Americans, which make up 15% of the undergraduate class of 2011(.pdf).

However, there seems to be a growing anti-Asian American sentiment on college campuses today. This past April at Dartmouth, there was a racist Asian comic printed in the school paper, and relatively recent incidents at the University of Colorado and Princeton University, and I am sure other numerous examples. I don’t know if this because of the growing anti-immigrant mood in the United States, the rising concern about China’s (& India for that matter) rise or maybe some other reason, or that I am paying more attention now that I am blogging about Asian & Asian American topics and issues.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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