Coppell Student Media

Ending “smart Asian” stereotypes

Pramika Kadari, Copy Editor

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Laura Amador-Toro
Many Asian students at Coppell High School and around the nation face academic stereotypes based on their ethnicity. The Sidekick Copy Editor Pramika Kadari discusses why these stereotypes must end.

I am Indian, and I am not enrolled in six AP classes. I am Indian, and I did not score well on the SAT my first try. I am Indian, and I struggle so much in calculus that I study for hours outside class just to understand basic concepts, because I cannot keep pace with the teacher’s lectures.

 

Throughout my life, solely due to my ethnicity, people have often assumed I am extremely academically intelligent. We have all made “smart Asian” jokes before, including myself, but joking aside, the stereotype can do more harm than good and needs to end.

 

During my history class in freshman year, after my classmate found out my grades were imperfect, she was surprised. According to her, I “seemed like the kind of person who would have amazing grades … even more than most Indians.” Her words and the tone she said them stuck with me, punching me with a feeling of disappointment, as if I was not living up to my potential or people’s expectations.

 

“Sometimes if Asians don’t live up to the ‘Asian standard’, they feel bad about themselves,” Coppell High School junior and AP student Aishwarya Kannan said. “That’s how I feel sometimes, like I’m disappointing everyone.”

 

For some reason my academic intelligence  is one of my biggest insecurities. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m afraid of falling short of people’s assumptions; but I should not have this fear, because people should not be making these assumptions in the first place.

 

There are two versions of the “smart Asian” stereotype: the first describes someone who obsessively studies every minute of every day, while the second describes someone who is naturally a genius and has no need to study. Neither describes me, and both hurt me.

 

I consider myself a passionate person. Much of my time is spent reading, watching films, speaking with friends and writing both creatively and journalistically. I will never apologize for getting sucked into a well-written book instead of spending a few extra hours studying for my AP exam. I do not devote myself to my GPA, and I do not want people to see me that way – as someone who has no interests outside memorizing trigonometry formulas.

 

At the same time, my grades are still important to me, which drives me to work hard in school. When people assume I do not need to study, my effort feels brushed off. Earlier this year, a peer complained AP U.S. History would be so much harder for her than it was for me when I took it last year because I am “naturally really smart”. But I have never put more work into a class than I did into APUSH.

 

“It’s frustrating that if I get good grades people will be like, ‘oh, it’s because you’re Indian,  because you’re smart,’” CHS senior and AP student Arohi Srivastav said. “I could take that as a compliment, but that’s also pretty annoying for someone to brush it aside and just assume you’re so much luckier than them in that way.”

 

Boys are not always messy and loud. Girls are not always obsessed with their appearance. And Asians are not always either lazy geniuses or study-addicts. We are not clones of each other, we are humans.

 

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About the Writer
Pramika Kadari, Copy Editor

Pramika Kadari is a junior and the Copy Editor on The Sidekick. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, watching movies and spending time with friends....

13 Comments

13 Responses to “Ending “smart Asian” stereotypes”

  1. Nishant Medicharla on November 30th, 2018 10:47 am

    I relate to this story so much!! Great job Pramika!!

  2. Saira Haque on November 30th, 2018 12:34 pm

    Hi Pramika

    Let me introduce myself, I am Saira, I graduated from CHS almost two years ago and I can totally relate to this write-up personally. I was in the same boat as well, I did not take an 5-6 AP classes and I’m not against to those who do. I love that you are branching out your interests while you’re in high school, I myself did the same thing, I did numerous clubs while I was at CHS, I too had to work extra hard than most of my peers. I still feel the same way at NLC, where I feel I have to twice as hard than my friends and other peers.

    Thank you again for this amazing write-up, you have great things coming your way.

  3. Pramika Kadari on November 30th, 2018 8:44 pm

    Thank you Nishant!

  4. Pramika Kadari on November 30th, 2018 8:46 pm

    Thank you for reading, Saira!

  5. Venky Venkatraman on November 30th, 2018 10:28 pm

    Nicely written, Pramika! Your sincerity comes through in your writing. I am sure you will go on to do great things in the future. My best wishes to you.

  6. Pramika Kadari on December 3rd, 2018 11:25 am

    Thank you!

  7. Charlotte Vanyo on December 2nd, 2018 6:47 pm

    I loved this story Pramika! It was written really well. I can relate through sort of the other end. People frequently underestimate me academically and assume I take all on level because I’m a “dumb blonde”

  8. Sriram SONTY on December 2nd, 2018 9:29 pm

    Dear Pramika,

    Thank you for putting
    this article on Facebook
    about the challenges
    Asian Indian
    Students Face.

    There are Two Halves to Success.

    1 H: Hardwork
    2 A: Aptitude
    3 L: Love/Passion
    4 F : Focus

    The Second Half Follows:

    1 H : Humility
    2 A: Attitude
    3 L: Lead by Example
    4 F: Fearlessness

    You exhibited all these

    You will be a GREAT ROLE MODEL

    May the Force be with you

    Sriram Sonty

  9. Pramika Kadari on December 3rd, 2018 11:27 am

    Thank you Charlotte! I’m sorry people underestimate you, that’s probably more frustrating. You are one of the hardest workers I know!

  10. Pramika Kadari on December 3rd, 2018 11:29 am

    Mr. Sriram Sonty – thank you for reading, for your insight, and for the Star Wars reference

  11. Pramathi on December 3rd, 2018 10:24 pm

    I feel you my parents forced me to take 7 AP classes and it is killing me every day. I have all A’s, but it is not good enough for my parents. And I am considered a nerd everywhere I go.

  12. Sumathi on December 4th, 2018 5:30 am

    Proud of you Pramika
    Great writing, love your point of view

  13. Pramika Kadari on December 7th, 2018 1:21 pm

    Thanks!

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