Sociology professor presents challenges facing Asian American students

Sociology Professor Paul Zisk spoke to a full classroom about the myth of the model minority and the reality of Asian American ethnic stratification in BS-129 Tuesday morning.

In Zisk’s lecture, he talked about some cultural norms of various Asian ethnic groups when it comes to academic excellence and some experiences he had with Asian culture at Cosumnes River College.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial/ethnic minority group in the United States, comprising nearly five percent of the total U.S. population, according to a fact sheet that can be found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website.

Zisk spoke about how stressful school life can be for Asian American students whose families pressure them to have good grades. Sometimes, these student’s families come from countries with strong Confucianism beliefs such as Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam.

“In a true Confucian family home, when parents say ‘do homework,’ the kids will do their homework,” Zisk said. “These four countries have a high emphasis on education, and that leads to respect in their community.”

He also talked about Proposition 209, and how that bill made universities focus solely on grades and test scores when accepting students. Even though that bill has passed, 40 percent of UC students are Asian. This shows that these students come from backgrounds with a heavy emphasis on education.

Another thing about Asian American culture is that they are hardworking people. Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese people have the highest percentage of “mom and pop stores” where the whole family contribute in earning their income.

“You gotta be careful of how Hollywood portrays Asians,” Zisk said when speaking about how media enforces certain stereotypes about Asian culture for comedic effect. Stereotypes are a harsh reality for many students who have encountered microaggressions and racism.