I’m not a positive stereotype

chinese_studentby Vivian Han

I’m getting downright sick of it. Everywhere I go, people say things like, “Oh, the Chinese are a hardworking, studious people who respect their parents are honor their forebears.” Oh really? “It’s only a matter of time before China takes over the world, due to the discipline and work ethic of the Chinese population,” people say. Is that so?

I’m fed up with oppressive positive stereotypes.

The truth is, some of us are lazier than a Hunan hog on hot day. Ever since I was young, my nickname has been mortar butt, because people say I have a load of bricks stuck to my ass. I barely have enough energy to stand up and hit the power button on my PS4, let alone wash my clothes or flush the toilet. Still, when I was a kid, it never failed. If I went to play at a white friend’s house, her parents would always says things like, “I’ll bet you’re a good girl and help out at home, unlike my own daughter.”

Enough with the blanket praise of Chinese, okay? In the 18 years I lived at home, I only hung my clothes once — and that was because I was looking for a packet of Skittles I thought were buried under my sweaters.

Now I’m in college, on academic probation and barely getting by in my classes. No, I’m not studying something difficult like engineering or computer science. I’m an art major, and a bad one at that. After three years in college, I still can’t tell a Rothko from a Warhol. Even so, when I’m at a bar, drunk with my friends, and we’re trying to figure out how to divide the 139-dollar tab between 7 people, why does everyone look at me? What do you think I am, a human calculator? “Oh, but aren’t all Chinese smart?” my friends say.

Keep your complimentary beliefs about my people to yourself, okay? I’m the absolute worst at pretty much every subject, especially math. Until I was 18, I thought multiplication tables were the place you sat when you did your homework. I still use my fingers if I want to count higher than three.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the irksome idea that all Chinese respect their mothers and fathers. When it’s the weekend and I mention that I’m going home to see my parents, I see my classmates smile and they’re thinking, “What a dutiful Chinese daughter. I wish I could be more like her.”

How wrong they are. The only time I go home is when I’ve burned through the generous monthly allowance my parents give me, which means I go scrounging for money when they’re out of the house, or maybe I free my mom of a pair of earrings that I pawn for 50 bucks.  And you wouldn’t believe the vile things I’ve said about my parents, and right to their faces. I’m surprised they didn’t kick me out of the house when I was 14 and I got stoned, stole their car and crashed it into a house — and then lied to the cops by saying I was trying to escape my sexually abusive parents who had forced me to smoke up. You should have seen the look on my dad’s face when the cops led him away in handcuffs. Priceless.

As for worshipping my ancestors goes, boy, I’m not even going to tell you what I did to the alter my parents set up to leave offerings to deceased relatives. You’d really think I was a dirtbag, then. I will say one thing: sometimes you just can’t get the urine smell out of carpet, no matter how many times you clean it with a wet vac.

Consider one thing the next time a positive stereotype of a Chinese person enters your mind: how would you feel if people thought all sorts of good things about you, even before meeting you?

You wouldn’t like it at all.

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