Monday, October 11, 2010

La MesaPatch's adoptee story problematic

This article bothers me a lot.

The story which put me on the defensive early into the article was this one:
His knowledge of American culture was even shakier. So when his first term paper in European history came back with a red-penciled B, the 16-year-old had no idea what it meant. In Korea, grades were percentages—100%, 90%, 80%, etc.
"I didn't want to reveal how stupid I was," said Spackman, who today turned 71 and Saturday was inducted into his alma mater's Hall of Honor. But a "beautiful blonde" nearby had an A, and "she's too pretty to be smart."
Spackman surmised that A stood for average—and B "must mean bad."
How cute! The socially inept Asian male who of course finds the blonde beautiful. Later the article says that he was rendered mute by a beauty queen (presumably white) so on TV he became the stereotypical bumbling dorky Asian kid. Awwww! What a heartwarming story!

It glorifies the 1950s and the Eisenhower era as some utopia. Remember the 1950s? Conform to white, middle class, hetero-normative, nuclear family ideals, or else! Forget about the codified racism of the era because we could leave our doors unlocked. Nevermind the establishment of the domination of the "military industrial complex" (Eisenhower's own words) that now is symbolized by firms like Haliburton. Oh, and remember the H-bomb and nuclear attack drills in schools? What a idyllic time that was!

It says that "in 1951, getting permission to emigrate wasn't easy." That's quite an understatement! In fact it was impossible. Racist quotas were in place from 1923-1965 which allowed only Europeans to immigrate to the U.S. And, only northern or western Europeans at that. No Italians, Greeks, Poles, or Russians permitted! (Western hemisphere (Latin American) immigration was unrestricted then but that's a matter for another post)

Other problems with this article:
  • It does it does a lot to validate the model minority myth of the studious Asian who learns English in a matter of months and excels academically.
  • It calls James an orphan although it says that he was separated from his mother.
  • It presents success as corporate success.
  • It presents racial isolation as a good experience.