Child beating and verbal abuse aside, Chinese immigrant parents do things in the privacy of their homes that, if widely known, would obliterate their squeaky-clean, model minority status. These are things Chinese parents rarely talk about, either because the activities don’t align with the image they want to project or because they regard their views as indisputable fact and therefore not worth discussing. Here are a few dirty secrets of the Chinese immigrant parent that remain largely hidden from the rest of American society.
4 things Chinese parents will never confess to:
1. being racist
Chinese immigrants are racist, plain and simple. They do not feel conflicted about their racism, as many white people do, nor do they sing it from the rooftops, as many other white people do. They rest quietly secure in the knowledge that the Chinese are superior, white Americans are also superior but fat, black Americans are illiterate, Middle Easterners are terrorists, and Southeastern Asians are sub-human, without feeling the need to discuss it with anyone.
Also, there is a tacit racial hierarchy among Chinese parents that goes something like this:
other Asians (Korean and Japanese above Indian and Southeastern Asian)
brown (Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific Islander)
black (African and African American)
2. being drunk
The vast majority of Chinese immigrant parents drink very little or not at all. With the exception of perhaps Chinese New Year, it’s unacceptable for a Chinese parent to consume more than a quarter of a glass of wine in one sitting. Drunkenness, in Chinese culture, is a source of shame, never something to brag about, and even those who have been intoxicated in their youth would never fess up to it.
3. not giving a shit about the law
Chinese immigrants, for the most part, seem to be orderly, law-abiding citizens, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they respect the law. Any Chinese parent would commit perjury/forgery/libel/murder in a heartbeat if the welfare of his family/job/property/bank account were at stake and if the chances of getting caught were reasonably low. My dad had a habit of forging physicians’ signatures on my summer camp medical forms because he didn’t feel like paying the $100 for the appointment that was required to obtain the signature. He also has a 30-year habit of fudging his birth date on official documents. But that’s a story for another time.
4. having unemployed children or children who didn’t finish college
In Chinese immigrant culture, unemployment or the lack of a college diploma beyond age 24 translates automatically into failure. And for Chinese parents, nothing is more shameful than having to tell people that their kid is a failure–so they don’t. If their kids are going through tough times, they gloss over details when questions come up. When they do share what their kids are up to, the facts will be invariably optimistic and brag-worthy. Listening to a conversation between immigrant Chinese parents about their kids is like listening to a bunch of angels talk in heaven –you’d think that no one had any problems.
Parent 1: My Jimmy just got a Morgan Stanley internship and a 4.0 his second semester at Harvard.
Parent 2: That’s great! My Daisy’s going to Harvard medical school even though Yale took her too. They should hang out when Daisy goes there in a few months.
Parent 3: You ladies are so lucky! My younger daughter just got a 2400 SAT last week. I hope she turns out like your kids and not like her older sister, who only got a 2300 and ended up Berkeley and not Harvard.
A child with no accomplishments is unworthy of mentioning, and the parents of such children, when trapped in these situations, learn to smile sheepishly and speak modestly about their children’s “soft hearts” and “inner generosity.”