Saturday, July 07, 2018

Save the Tigers


(source)

Here’s the story of my immigrant family. We came from Korea to the United States in late 1997. I was 16 years old, my brother 14. Immigrant life was hard. Our immigration lawyer was a crook, stealing most of our family’s money while leaving us with an uncertain immigration status. We lived in a succession of shitty little houses, dealing with nasty landlords who never repaired broken fixtures in time. 

My brother and I waited for the once-a-week special from the neighborhood McDonalds’, when it would sell ten hamburgers for 99 cents. (It was one dollar and seven cents after taxes.) Ever bought a hamburger from McDonalds’, because a cheeseburger cost too much? (Ten cheeseburgers were $1.29.) We would bring home those shit sandwiches, and our mother would improve them by taking them apart and sliding in the cheap vegetables from the Korean market. Our parents had to adjust from a comfortable upper middle class life in Seoul to that. My father was in a constant state of simmering rage, ashamed that he could not provide for us in California like the way he did in Seoul and fearing we might lose our immigration status because he was duped. My mother, a smart and proud woman, cried all the time. 

Things worked out in the end. My parents threw away their lives that they have built for decades and came to the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving my brother and me a better path of education. Knowing this, we ensured that our parents would accomplish that mission. Both my brother and I entered school knowing minimal English, but we picked it up quickly. We both benefited from the University of California systems, which gave us excellent education and a good diploma. I am a lawyer at a big law firm, my brother an engineer at a big tech company whose name you’ve certainly heard of. People around us say we’re successful.

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Right now, there is a confluence of two major education policies that involve claims of discrimination against Asian Americans. With New York high schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan would eliminate the entrance examination for the city’s magnet schools and instead have the schools take the top students from each of the city’s middle schools—a move to bring in more black and Latino students in place of Asian students. At Harvard, a lawsuit filed by an Asian American group claims Harvard’s admission has marked Asian applicants as scoring low on the “personality” category, taking fewer Asian American students as a result. 

I’ll be honest: I don’t find these debates all that important. Obviously, I think education is important. It’s just that I am not at all convinced marginal improvement on one’s high school or college changes one’s life in a meaningful way. If you insist that I state my position, I’d give a lukewarm, split-the-difference answer: keep the entrance exam with New York high schools, but it’s also fine for Harvard to maintain an informal racial ceiling against Asian Americans for the sake of diversity. This is mostly based on practical considerations. College is the time for the young adult to leave the home, and a student who narrowly misses out on Harvard surely has a dozen other comparable options around the country. On the other hand, if a New York high school student misses the cut for one of the magnet schools, the drop-off might be significant, and it would require the entire family to move to a different city to mitigate the drop-off. My attitude probably stems from the fact that I neither attended my town’s magnet high school nor an Ivy League college, but feel that my life worked out mostly fine. But given this obviously anecdotal basis, I have no strong commitment to my position. 

What I do find interesting, however, is the debate underlying the admissions debate. The way in which each Asian American draws her battle line usually relates to how she processes the current reality of Asian Americana: a group with all-abiding dedication to education, such that it produces a wildly disproportionate number of high-status professionals such as doctors, lawyers and engineers—what people might call “successful” professions. This leads to the Model Minority stereotype, with the implications that Asian Americans do not face discrimination and that other racial minorities too can overcome and be doctors and lawyers and engineers. 

The Model Minority stereotype is bullshit, and deserves to be slammed. But I have seen a curious streak among many Asian Americans: in the process rebelling against the Model Minority, they also rebel against the importance of academics and the idea of “success” in assessing career paths. Asian parents care too much about schools, they say. The hard work of rote-learning and test-prepping produce uncreative automatons. The focus on being a doctorlawyer is a sign of vulgar materialism that chases after prestige. When Yale Law School professor Amy Chua spoke of "tiger parenting," she faced a firestorm of criticism, much of it from Asian Americans who saw tiger parenting as a backward attitude of their parents' generation that finally gained a name by which it can be reviled.

Typical is the attitude shown by attorney Ryan Park in his recent op-ed for the New York Times. Park tut-tuts at Chua’s tiger parenting as “fanatical parenting choices,” saying the second generation Asian Americans are “largely abandoning traditional Asian parenting styles in favor of a modern, Western approach focused on developing open and warm relationships with our children.” The second generation parents, according to Park, “are striving to cultivate individuality and autonomy in our children in a way that we feel was missing from our own childhoods.” Park then concludes: “I aim to raise children who are happy, confident and kind—and not necessarily as driven, dutiful and successful as the model Asian child. If that means the next generation will have fewer virtuoso violinists and neurosurgeons, well, I still embrace the decline.” 

My eyes gently roll. 

(More after the jump.)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com


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(source)

Here’s another story about my immigrant life. I graduated from college and went to a fancy law school in the East Coast. I earned good grades in law school, which landed me a job at a fancy law firm before I even graduated. This was in 2006, when very smart people were saying the economic boom might last forever. My classmates were optimistic and arrogant, and so was I. We all had six-figure jobs right out of law school, and the law firms were so desperate for manpower that there was no way we would lose our jobs. Standard partnership track at a big law firm took eight years, but some junior lawyers were demanding partnership after five. In other words, people were drunk. 

The cold water came in 2008, as Lehman Brothers fell. The New York banks were wiped out, and with them the New York law firms. Massive law firms with a thousand lawyers would turn into dust overnight. Even the surviving law firms faced hard times. The cafeteria of my fancy law firm switched its free ketchup packets from Heinz to Hunt’s, apparently because a top ten law firm with a thousand lawyers placed around the world could no longer afford to give out the top of line condiments. 

Young lawyers—my classmates—were losing their jobs. But not at the same rate. Asian American associate attorneys, especially Asian American women, were the first to go. They used to get sterling reviews: diligent, hard-working attorneys who put in the extra time. Once the economy turned, the law firms scheduled a new mid-year review, in which the same qualities that were positive six months ago were turned into a negative: passive attorneys who did not display enough initiative and leadership. Then the law firms would announce “performance-based” layoffs, to avoid giving off the impression that they were in financial trouble. Majority of my Asian American classmates lost their jobs; many of them were never able to return to the legal profession. I was also on the chopping block, until a partner stepped in to save my neck because he was impressed with my ability to work for days without sleep. If it was not for him, my legal career would have ended after a year and a half since I graduated from law school. 

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When you’re a Korean American attending a fancy law school, you tend to keep tabs on other Korean Americans who also attend fancy law schools—which is why I know of Ryan Park. He has amassed credentials that few mortals could ever reach: top of the class at Harvard Law School and Fulbright Scholarship; stints at the State Department, Justice Department and the Department of Defense; judicial clerkship at the Southern District of New York, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If the legal field were the NBA, Park would have been the blue chip prospect who led Duke University to the NCAA championship, then was drafted No. 1 overall, to be the Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. These credentials allow Park to take a break from his legal career after his Supreme Court clerkship to be a stay-at-home father, only to join an elite law firm at a later date. 

Which is why Park’s lamentation about his father’s strict education triggers a reflexive eye roll. Suuure—if you’re the top of the class at Harvard Law School, hit the three most important departments of the federal government and had clerkships with all three levels of the court, I’m sure you could stand to be a little less successful. But for everyone else? My law school was not as fancy as Harvard, but it was pretty darn fancy. That did not stop my Asian American classmates from losing their jobs faster than others did, nor did it save me from narrowly escaping the chopping block. If you’re an Asian American, the only way for you to be mostly insulated from this society’s latent racism is to be indisputably talented. Merely being very good is not enough; the separation between you and the rest of the world must be so overwhelming that you elevate yourself beyond the racism-infected system. 

Asian American parents push their children academically because they hope against hope that their children would hit that escape velocity from the system. Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, likes to recount a story about his first time back home from college. In the car ride from the airport, the young college student told his father: “I think I’m going to major in philosophy.” His father slowly pulled over the car and told him: “When you finish your residency, you can study anything you want. You’re a Chinaman, and you are not going to make it in this world if you study philosophy.” There is a tragic quality to this, because no Asian American, no matter how excellent, fully escapes racism. The fact that a Chinese American William Lee was at one point the managing partner of WilmerHale, one of the most prestigious law firms in the world, did not shield him from a random racist harassing and stalking him at a gas station, telling him “Why don’t you go back to your own country.” Yet the parents press on, hoping their children would be the at least a step removed from the unfairness of this world. 

Younger Asian Americans rebel against that, for it is the lot of the children to rebel against their parents. The rebellion often comes in their youth, before they bear the full force of this society’s racism. The rebellion often comes from those indisputably talented Asian Americans who scorn their God-given gifts because they blithely assume everyone else has those gifts. They so badly want the freedom not to be successful that they scoff at the idea of success itself. They just want to be happy. They desire to be an individual, as if this society would ever treat them as one. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates saw the same desire in Michael Jackson, a fellow African American who managed to hit escape velocity through his musical talent. Jackson sought for “liberation from the dictates of that we[,]” which led to a twisted kind of freedom: “a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you give even more[.]” Coates found such freedom destructive: “I wonder how different his life might have been if Michael Jackson knew how much his truly black face was tied to all of our black faces, if he knew that when he destroyed himself, he was destroying part of us, too. I wonder if his life would have been different, would have been longer.” 

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My early days in the United States were some of the unhappiest moments of my life. I saw my parents living in anger toward themselves and to each other. They screamed and yelled at each other almost every night; several times I had to step in between them because I genuinely feared they might kill each other. Not understanding anything the teachers said at school induced despair. The idea that I would have to take the SATs 18 months after coming to the United States seemed absurd. I thought about running away all the time, about going back to Korea, to be freed from all this misery. I’m not sure if I would choose to go through that again, if it were possible to go back in time to choose. 

But I do know that, despite the difficult path we walked, no one in our family regrets coming to America. The knowledge that my parents denied themselves to give me an opportunity was branded into my heart, motivating me to study harder than ever before. Yes, that involved a ton of rote learning—how else do you think one learns an entirely new language at age 16? But contrary to the relentless claims about the harms of rote learning, my faculties for critical thought seem to have survived just fine. I am told that “successful” people like lawyers often insecure and anxious, and my early days as a lawyer were certainly anxiety-inducing. Even now, I do go through career-related moments of insecurity and anxiety, sometimes for days and weeks. But I do not find them to be good reasons why I should have chosen a different career, much less a different path of life. I am glad I did not run away, shrink from challenge or give up on the idea of being successful in this country. 

The greatest lie of the modern society is we are individuals who must pursue our own, individualized version of happiness. In truth, happiness is overrated, and so is individuality. The logical consequence of prioritizing individual happiness over all else is to take painkillers until you die. There is no unhappiness when you’re high. No pain, no bad thoughts, just take another one if it wears off. It lets you forget all about what others did to put you where you are, and it lets you leave this world without even realizing you’re dead. So of course, that’s how Michael Jackson left this world. 

Or you can elect to live, and walk through all the frustration, challenges and despair that come along—the entire point of tiger parenting, which teaches children to persevere over difficulties. No, you don’t have to be a doctorlawyer; it’s ok to cast aside the old, stodgy ideas of what counts as a success. But you do need to be successful, in that you become the best version of yourself. This inevitably involves self-abnegation, because being better always entails sacrifice. Being a more capable person allows you to serve others better. Denying yourself easy pleasures leads to deeper, more profound ones. Submerging your own desire puts your mind in the right place to serve others, at a place one might call empathy. And yes, being the best version of yourself does tend to come with financial rewards, with which you can see and interact with the world at a level that would not be otherwise available. That's hardly a bad thing.

This is not a "happy" life, for unhappiness inevitably visits this life. There is nothing "individual" about it: the underlying formula is same for everyone, though the individual manifestation may be different. However clumsily it may be expressed, this is the type of life that every parent wants his or her children to have. It is the life that makes you better than you would have been while standing alone in the world, atomized and alienated. It is the life that recognizes your life’s interconnection with others’, your predecessors’ contribution for your existence today, and your duty to your family, your children, the people in your life. It may not be a happy life, but it is a fulfilled life. 

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com

32 comments:

  1. my brother an engineer at a big tech company whose name you’ve certainly heard of.

    no clue. name?

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  2. Great article and insights.

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  3. Your parents willingness to give up a comfortable upper middle class life to give their children a better educational path indicates one of two things to me. They were very naive and grossly misinformed about the quality of education in American schools or something is also very wrong with the Korean educational system in order for them to have felt they had to make such a drastic change.

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    1. Expand your imagination beyond the two things.

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    2. I'd only be speculating at best. Perhaps you can share in a future blog post.

      I can understand why someone from a war torn country or a dirt poor country would want to immigrate here, but why give up a comfortable economic life at a home country to come here unless you can maintain similar lifestyle here.

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    3. You were already speculating by giving two reasons. What's another one?

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    4. I didn't think I was speculating since you did mention in your post your parents gave up everything they spent decades building for the sole purpose of providing a better educational path for their children instead of education being one of the motivators for immigrating.

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    5. It's you who's misinformed. Primary and secondary education in the U.S. is only average among OECD countries, but the college and university system is probably the best in the world. Go to any American university and you will find the children of China's elite paying full price to attend; how many children of the U.S. elite attend college in East Asia?

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    6. Most international students who attend universities here don't immigrate with their entire family though. I am probably misinformed, thus my question to the author. It worked out well for TK's family, but to completely start over in a new country while spending most of family savings to do so seems like such a huge gamble to take for another well off family solely for educational purpose.

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    7. BTW, I do agree that Tiger parenting of instilling discipline, perseverance, and strong work ethic is paramount regardless of anyone's ethnic background. The major media outlets tend to give these alternative views from few Asian people disparaging Tiger parenting methods louder voice than they're really worth in order to generate a buzz. It's sort of akin to glorifying the college dropout success stories over the far more common and typical successful path most people take. If you took some of those people's view literally, they almost seem to feel ending up a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer is much worse than spending one's working life as a struggling actor/artists, etc.

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    8. If you read what he wrote, his family didn’t spend most of their money to move here. He clearly stated that their lawyer stole their money leaving them in a far worse state financially than they assumed they would have been if everything went according to plan. You also have to remember that the acceptance of foreign students in American colleges isn’t the same as today. Many families, including my own, moved from Korea to America so that their children would have time to acclimate/assimilate to the culture and language so they wouldn’t have to struggle with those barriers while also studying in college. Simply sending your child straight to an American college was most likely unheard of unless they were from extremely wealthy families. Comprehension of the English language was mandatory to be accepted but while we grew up here in America, that changed. Yes, if my parents never moved to America, my sister and I probably still could have attended American colleges. But at the time that my parents moved here(late 70’s), it was a dream that had no basis in reality that their children would be accepted.

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  4. Your argument about why Asian American needs Tiger Parenting is kind of discouraging immigration, isn't it - you HAVE to work your ass off to be the very best, because only White people are allowed the privilege of mediocrity in racist America. All that effort, only to be cut off by the bamboo ceiling - it just seems so pointless and depressing. Why bother coming to America at all, then? Somehow I don't think America is that great of a country for people to throw away everything like that and work to the bone to get table scraps.

    Also, how do you explain tiger parenting in Asian countries where racism isn't an issue? Is it to break limitations of one's gender? Class? If everyone NEEDS to be the best version of themselves despite socioeconomic handicaps (노오력), that's a rather depressing world we live in.

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    1. 1) Yes, it kind of discourages immigration.

      2) Please re-read the last three paragraphs of this post, which has the answer to your question.

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    2. 1) So you admit that your point discourages immigration. Why do you then advocate for open borders and be all pro-immigration if all immigrants have to go through this grueling, thankless process that is tiger parenting? Why didn't you just go back to Korea then? You can't advocate for immigration and then turn around and suggest immigration isn't worth it, that's hypocritical.

      2) Why do you think interconnectedness is the only proper way to live one's life? What you're saying is that there's only one "right" way to live life, and that every other person who strays from the path are all wrong. What makes you so sure that you have all the right ideas about the world and how people should live?

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    3. I've read your post again and again, thank you. I still think that you are being hypocritical by discouraging immigration and then turning around and advocating for open borders and immigration.

      From your post, all I'm getting is that nonwhites are doomed to force themselves into greatness because of the racist society they live in - well then, that society isn't really a society worth living, and immigration isn't worth it, because while your family may have ended up conventionally successful, it doesn't mean other immigrant families are in the same intellectual or environmental situations that you were in to defeat the odds.

      There are also those who strive for individuality because the notions of duty to community or interconnectedness have done more harm than good in their upbringing. But sure, they should get over themselves and keep giving to the community that's harmed them, because that's how proper, fulfilled people live.

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    4. that society isn't really a society worth living, and immigration isn't worth it -> This is the exact opposite of what I said, which makes me think you didn't read my post carefully enough.

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    5. I never said that statement was what YOU were saying - that is what *I* get from your conclusions about tiger parenting. But never mind, it's clear that you're not likely to change your mind from the words of a random commenter.

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    6. I do agree with your assessment regarding overall takeaway from author's post. His family's personal story is inspiring, but the gist of the post is that for majority of non white immigrants they have to outwork others just to maintain a decent professional career. Since most people from upper middle class families in an industrialized country can get a decent professional job, it's much better to just attend college here as a foreign student and then decide whether to stay here or not. I'm sure Samsung and other companies hire many lawyers and engineers in Korea too. The author went from living a good chunk of his formidable years in a society as a majority into a quasi insignificant minority in US, so I sense a bit of wistfulness from his posts on occasions.

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    7. It's pretty amazing to see you two totally missing the point that I wrote plainly in the post.

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    8. It's obvious that you certainly feel that a major part or perhaps even all your& brother's success was due to the knowledge you both had of how much your parents sacrificed to come here. Also, as with other immigrants you feel that knowledge of sacrifice for a better life created the hyper drive, the singular focus, and determination to overcome the odds to succeed at all costs in a very short timeframe. That's certainly a pro immigration message theme from your post. The old immigrant adage of "give me your tired, your poor, huddled masses..."

      In your case you succeeded. However, do you feel you and your brother would've ended up with a career much worse than lawyer and an engineer had you not immigrated? Obviously, if immigrating to US will provide an opportunity for an enormous success opportunity not available at a home country, it's a no brainer to come here. As a general rule I tend to believe if you come from an upper middle class family from a non white majority developed country such as Japan or South Korea, whatever extra incentive to succeed you may get from immigrating doesn't outweigh all the obstacles you'll face as a minority that you yourself stated in your post. Thus, even though your post maybe a pro immigration, I agree with Y's overall sentiment since I think you're probably an outlier. I would bet more upper middle class families who came here similar to your family's circumstance would've just gone back.

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    9. It's an article of faith among Koreans that children owe their parents and ancestors a debt for the sacrifices they made, and the debt must be repaid by continuing the family line and sacrificing for your own kids. The idea that you owe gratitude to your parents and that you should have kids and make sacrifices for them is not in the least bit unique to Korea but it's a highly competitive and highly conformist society so it tends to take things to extremes. Hence the rejection of the notion that somewhere along the line there is room for individual happiness (not that the idea that happiness isn't the goal of human life is at all unique to Korea either).

      Another article of faith in Korea is that education is of extreme importance and that the best education is in America whereas Korean education sucks.

      It's also worth bearing in mind that Korea in 1997 was not as attractive a place to live as it is now, although no doubt that was much less true of successful professionals.

      The paradox remains: why sacrifice everything so your children can have a better life in another country if in the end they're only going to live lives of sacrifice? I guess it's not so bad to be a successful professional in the U.S.

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  5. Coates writes about Michael Jackson, "I wonder if his life would have been different, would have been longer" had he less freedom. I've always wondered if his life would have been different had his father, Joseph Jackson, not been such a brutal tiger dad in the kid's youth.

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  6. 'My parents threw away their lives that they have built for decades and came to the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving my brother and me a better path of education.'

    First gen. parents say this all the time, but if you dig a little deeper there were other reasons why many immigrate every year.

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  7. Excellent piece, TK; I am not surprised that some readers don't seem to get it, though.

    My own anecdotes: the first-gen Korean immigrant father of my childhood friend David insisted that he and his brother become medical doctors. They spent their entire childhoods studying, and they were not allowed to attend college out of state. The college David attended was not a commuter school, but their father picked him up every Friday so that he could study at home all weekend. The brothers struggled on their MCATs, having to apply over the course of several years in order to improve their scores, and I think the younger one actually failed out of his first medical school and had to get his OD from a school in the Caribbeans. Honestly I think it was because they were just burnt the f___ out. Still, today they are practicing doctors who say they are grateful that their father rode them so hard. I can't help but wonder though what it cost them in terms of their emotional and social development and their relationships with others.

    My own parents (also first-gen Korean immigrants) were the complete opposite. Although they weren't shy about hoping that I would be a doctor, they always told me that I should do whatever made me happy. In retrospect, I wish that they had provided me with more guidance. I was a lazy student who did well in school through unearned talent and had to develop my own ethos as an adult. In the process I wasted a lot of time and squandered a lot of my potential.

    With my daughter I'm going to try to strike a balance. When she's old enough to take up a musical instrument, I'm going to make her practice, because I want her to learn that practice is the only way to get good at something, and that being good at something is incredibly satisfying. I want her to learn how to excel by the rules and then have the confidence to break the rules. I'm going to try not to care too much about her grades, but if she gets a bad grade it had better be because she's too busy learning about something she cares about to stick to the letter of the law, not because she's shirking.

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    1. Nathalie Ginzburg wrote a book in which she said things like, "As far as the education of children is concerned I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt of danger; nor shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but love for one’s neighbour and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know. Usually we do just the opposite; we rush to teach them a respect for the little virtues, on which we build our whole system of education. In doing this we are choosing the easiest way, because the little virtues do not involve any actual dangers, indeed they provide shelter from Fortune’s blows."

      One thing to keep in mind, that your comments about Ryan Park reminded me of, is that one of the defining characteristics of the upper class is a certain effortlessness. That's what the Harvard admissions officers mean when they describe Asian students as "grinds" or "strivers"; we try too hard, and trying too hard lacks class. I suspect that Park actually does want his children to be ambitious; it's just that he's reached the stratosphere, and at that level it's gauche to wear your ambition on your sleeve.

      The grace to be a little careless is the privilege that Park's children and our children will have that we didn't. As much as I agree with Ginzburg, it's a lot easier to be indifferent to money when you know that your family has enough of it. Our parents taught us to be cautious and tactful because we really were one good kick from Fortune away from ruin. Our children will be different; we're earning six figures as professionals so that they'll have a chance (if they want it) to earn seven figures as startup founders or creative types or in other high-risk, high-reward endeavors. Or to be artisanal kombucha brewers or quixotic fighters of injustice or deep thinkers or whatever.

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  8. Google and Harvard's anti asian diverisity pimps make feminists the cock puppets of white/asian privilege. lol

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  9. My instincts on the admissions questions are the opposite, on the principle of expanding opportunities for people who were historically under-served. We know that due to things like stereotype threat, standardized tests tends to underestimate the potential of black and Latinx students, which means that relying on standardized tests as a sole measure of merit will cause you to miss out on some great students from those backgrounds.

    For the Harvard admissions- let me digress a little. One thing that stuck me from your post was the discussion of how so many Asian lawyers were fired in 2008. They were diligent, hardworking, and prone to doing what they were told, and now these were somehow suddenly bad things. Isn't that what Harvard admissions was saying about Asians too? That they were high performers, all right, but they had boring "personalities?" Well, if it wasn't OK for the law firms to do it, why is it OK for Harvard to do it? In effect, Harvard has been giving white applicants affirmative action, by increasing their personality scores relative to Asians.

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  10. I think about the whole "Asian Tiger" thing on two levels. On one level, there's a valid, rich discussion to be had within the Asian immigrant and 1.5/2nd gen community about parenting. These include topics like to what extent parenting topics that "worked" decades ago in Asia make sense today, to what extent to force children to stick to things or to explore different interests, and how to parent in a society that, as you pointed out, is happy to let Asians succeed as long as white people are always slightly ahead. This discussion needs to acknowledge the difference of individual circumstances as well. I thought my mother was just an "Asian parent," and I didn't realize until past college that things like holding out a bottle of bleach and asking me to drink it because she was mad that I told her I was suicidal wasn't actually normal parenting for any cultural group. Then again, I am very grateful for the sacrifices she's made for me and for shaping my potential into something that could get a decent middle-class job.
    On the broader level, though, most discussions of "Tiger Parenting" have the air of the freak show. "Look at those crazy, awful Asians! It's so horrifying, you can't rip your eyes away until you get to the end of the op-ed!" Admissions and hiring committees already had the stereotype that Asians were diligent and hardworking but never smart or creative. (Research has shown these are false dichotomies, but when have anyone's biases listened to research?) Now, faced with young Asians that are ever-more talented with ever-more achievements, the gatekeepers can just say it was the "Tiger Mother" and discredit every accomplishment.

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  11. Hi TK, thank you for sharing your experience and this writing helps me see with a new perspective.

    In fact, it is just in time with my own dilemma. I am currently struggling, because I changed my career at 29, which was 2 year ago. I knew at the start it is not going to be easy, I used to just kinda float in life and still coming to terms to being a rookie at 31.

    I needed the confirmation that struggling, difficulties is part of life. Admitting something is difficult not mean you're giving up. At this day and age, people only want to put out their best face, their good qualities so struggling feels solitary.

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  12. In your opinion, Asian Americans shouldn't rely on individuality and persue careers that are only gratifying to their own needs like the philosophy example you gave, but that behold higher social prestige to avoid the hardships of discrimination in America. Maybe I'm totally missing your point, which it's probably the case since I'm not so bright, but wouldn't that be against your closing statements in which you preach about giving the best version of oneself? I'm asking because I couldn't quite make something out of it and I really like some of your arguments and couldn't understand others.
    Also, do you think tiger parenting correlates somehow with the high suicide rates that East Asian countries have?
    I love this blog! Good wishes ^^

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  13. TK Your point of view is too Asian for me to understand, he he

    "The greatest lie of the modern society is we are individuals who must pursue our own, individualized version of happiness. In truth, happiness is overrated, and so is individuality"

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