Calif. election & bilingual education

zippycat at zippycat at
Fri Jun 5 11:03:34 PDT 1998

Doug Henwood wrote:

>I know all that. I've heard some stories of Indian professionals in the NYC
area who import domestics from India and then keep them in virtual slavery. I was asking about the racist perceptions of white Americans - do Indians and other South Asians qualify as model minorities, or is their skin too dark?

Well, given the Prez's fulsome praise of the Indian community's accomplishments in this country (our most highly educated ethnic group!!), which he somehow bizarrely used to castigate India for feeling it necessary to test the bomb (the

logic how our brain drain should make India not want to be a declared nuclear power managed to escape me), at least our Chief views South Asians as a model, and hopefully pliant, minority. In my experience, college-educated South Asians tend to fit most Americans' paradigm of the "model minority" (or, as Bill Cosby once put it, "Why do you call them "Asians"? Cause they're always getting A's!") On the other hand, given their darker skin tone than East Asians', some Americans still have their confusions. I'll never forget, after my family had moved to suburban Cincinnati in the mid-seventies (an awful time), when I had my worst suspicions about my neighborhood realized after a Pakistani Psychiatrist and his family moved in across the street and a cross was burned on their lawn! They moved very soon thereafter. Of course, these are much more enlightened times! I've heard that my old suburb even accepts the occasional African American family so long as they act and think the right way. For that matter, the old Cosby show was, I think, the number-one rated in Apartheid South Africa. "If only our blacks were like that!" was, I believe, a common lament.

Which is all to say that most white Americans certainly don't like to think of themselves as racist--natch--it's just that they're "frustrated" by the "behavior" of poor people, who just happen often to have darker skin shades. Of course, that's what makes "model minorities" and the occasional companionable black professional such a comforting presence to most whites. Anyway, these are all pretty obvious points, but thanks for the mail list anyway!

Regards, Ingrid

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