1) Your personal success, popularity, and financial gain from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom are paid for by an increased threat of psychological and even physical violence for Asian youth, everywhere throughout America.
Across today’s America, you will find a thousand, thousand young Asian people who are engaged in violent struggle to accept themselves — to find belonging in the image of their own faces and in the customs of their own families — because they are Asian in America. Because they are mocked and insulted for the way their eyes look, for their “complicated” last names, for the traditional Asian food they bring to school lunch, for the way their parents speak with an accent and behave so differently from “normal American parents.” This is an immeasurably large number of fragile and developing psyches — young children and teens, exquisitely innocent and beautiful — looking upon America from behind eyes that look like yours and mine, and confronted by the impossibly difficult task of finding self-worth amid a social reality that tends to repay their Asian identity with insult, mental and emotional aggression, pain.
Amy, these difficulties experienced by our community are a result of Asians being perceived and treated as alien — as non-human — by members of other American communities. If a person is addressed, relentlessly, as if he or she is less than human, then he or she will feel it, will believe it, after time.
When you, as an Asian-American, make public a statement such as “Chinese mothers are superior,” I understand that it is a strategic self-promotional needle intended to pierce at that acutely sensitive, easily agitated region of the American psyche that concerns itself with race, ethnicity, and nationality; and you do this to conjure public drama and give visibility, marketability to your book. This is clear; this is easy. But you should also realize that when you say, so publicly, such a thing as “Chinese mothers are superior,” what members of other groups essentially hear is the arrogant declaration: “Chinese people are superior.” Their intuitive reaction will then be to respond with a sentiment of “F— Chinese people”, which, in America, is ultimately “F— Asian people.” To re-fold what I am trying to say: your work contributes to anti-Asian sentiment and increases the alienation experienced by Asians across the United States. Such sentiments lead to retaliation against Asian people, exposing the more vulnerable members of our community to an increased threat of psychological and even physical violence. “Oh, your chink family is so superior, isn’t it? Well, what’s your Tiger Mom gonna do when I beat your f-ing ass?” I’m sure you’ve known racism in the United States, Amy, and as such, I imagine you can hear with great clarity the realism of such a statement.
Jie-Song Zhang, throwing down the gauntlet to Amy Chua (of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”/”Why Chinese Moms are Superior” fame). So good. Go read the whole thing.