Asian American Religiosities

Living here in the United States, I realized that race is one of the most important elements in “social construction”. People have always asked me what am I but does it really matter? People act like European descents are superior than other race but that is not true and United States wouldn’t be a strong nation without immigrants. In the reading Religion, Race, and Orientalism, our professor mentioned “European colonialists legitimated their conquest by imposing their notions of ‘religion’ and ‘race’ on Asians, Africans, and the indigenous people of Americas” this has affected United States until this day.  Americans have this mindset that they are better and privileged and this translates to unequal treatment towards immigrants. I won’t go into details but colored people face harsher laws when they commit crimes vs their counterpart. Non-colored people are treated better in terms of customer service such as in a restaurant, hospitality, etc. I also want to talk about unequal opportunities where white people are favored in terms of political parties, employment, education, etc.

Race has always been a very powerful force in our daily lives and it has always mattered in the United States. It influences many of the important decisions we make in our personal and social lives for instance, where we live or who our friends are. The social construction of race is the differences in our skin color that have lead our society categorize people into groups instead of individuals. I think we all struggle on how to differentiate Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Latinas and other groups. I am Filipino and sometimes my identity is constructed as either Asian or Pacific Islander.

This week’s course materials race and the implications of it in our lives were discussed. The socially constructed concept of “race” is employed heavily in our daily lives as we carry our lives in institutions that are embedded with race categorizations and in turn racism. The power of race and racism is evident in everything from our economics to our education. In A Class Divided, the children’s lower test scores when they faced discrimination, and higher when they did not. Constant oppressive discrimination, whether it is subtle or not, affects people’s mentalities and outlooks on life. In my personal life, minor skin tone differences have affected how people perceive my cultural heritage and how they classify me in the racial spectrum. Being a light-skinned Mexican born in America, institutional systems categorize me as “White/ Hispanic” yet I am not considered “white” for privilege purposes. As the reading Religion, Race, and Orientalism explain, institutional racism fosters inequities. The power of the notion of “race” within our systems restrict us and divides us as humans. This limits our progress as a society.

I believe that education gets affected with racial biases because of stereotypes that tend to be exploited in classrooms. According to some studies, teachers tend to offer a lot more assistance to other students than those who are of Asian heritage. I remember this one instance when I was attending a community college, and I needed some tutoring at a concept I was having trouble understanding. I went to the tutoring center and was given little attention and help. When I was able to sit down with a tutor, they didn’t help me a lot. They had assumed that since I was Filipino, I will be able to understand the topic even if they don’t explain the topic thoroughly. Unfortunately, I struggled with the topic, and it took more time than usual to understand it. Comparing this to my classmate who wasn’t Asian American, they were able to get help easily, and the tutor gave more detailed explanations. They also gave them handouts and suggested other learning media to help them further. According to an article by Alvin Chang on the Vox website, there is data from 2009 from two Princeton sociologists that states that an African American student who scores around 1000 on the SATs would have the same chance as Asian American who scores about 1450. Another way that race affects education is with college admissions. According to an article by Khrista Sayo and Elissa Choi, there are racial quotas that some colleges attempt to meet in order to create diversity in their campus. The term “Asian Penalty” where an Asian American student might not be able to get accepted at a college institute because of their appearance compared to an Aisan American student who appears to be `less Asian”.  The readings “Religion, Race and Orientalism” and “What Does Race have to do with Religion ” gave me a much needed insight on Asian American still being considered as foreigners. I, myself, am born and raised in the Philippines, so I would understand whenever someone would ask me where I am from, but I can sense the uneasiness when my cousins and friends who were born in America get the same questions. I can remember this one scene in the movie The Karate Kid when Jaden Smith’s told him to practice his Mandarin to the Asian man sitting next time. He tried to do so with succession, but then the man replied with. “Dude, I’m from Detroit.”. I remembered laughing at this scene, but after reading about the struggles Asian Americans have with these kinds of assumptions towards their nationality.

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