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In her article “(Un)American, (Un)Cool” Kavita Das looks at a current exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC entitled American Cool. She notes that Asian Americans are severely underrepresented, with only 2 photographic portraits out of the one hundred on display. She claims that in an environment overwhelmingly defined by white culture, Asian Americans are often not seen as American, or as cool. She discusses the ramifications of Asian American stereotypes in the US, and the role of the “unconscious bias” in spreading these stereotypes. In his article “Pape Tigers” Wesley Yang brings up his personal experience to discuss the social implications of Asian American stereotypes – whether positive or negative- and the role they play in defining one’s identity. Both authors study the challenges that Asian Americans face because of stereotypes. In your third essay I would like you to look carefully at these two texts, and using specific textual evidence from both articles, and your analysis produced for the Midterm, please answer the following question: How does the perpetuation of Asian American stereotypes – through unconscious bias and/or other practices explained in the texts – impact your understanding of American identity?

Here are some things to think about:

  • What challenges do Asian Americans face when it comes to education and cultural acceptance?
  • Are these challenges specific to Asian Americans, or do they apply to all racial minorities?
  • What role does ethnicity play in one’s education? How about in one’s professional life?
  • What does it mean to be American? How is American identity formed? What role does culture play in establishing a national identity?
  • What is unconscious bias? How does it work in Das’s text how about in Yang’s article?
  • What impact do stereotypes have on an individual and his/her future?

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