I’m more than just an: Asian stereotype

Junior Kaden Lee debates legitimacy of Asian stereotype

The role of stereotypes is prevalent in the high school scene. Aside from the typical nerds, jocks, popular girls who are portrayed in movies, NT’s culture exists on the more realistic spectrum.

Junior Kaden Lee touched on whether or not stereotypes held true to him and the Asian community as a whole.

He commented, “I don’t think anyone wants to fail in academics, or not be very successful. To some extent the stereotypes are accurate, at least, [for me], an Asian male.

But Lee also explained the parts of him that aren’t so typical: he’s a two-sport athlete, participating in both tennis and club soccer. He plays the violin in orchestra, but also the guitar. He’s interested in programming, but also enjoys cooking and baking.

“I fit the stereotype in terms of academics. I think I push myself and I end up spending a lot of time in school and out of school on my work. Because of that I don’t really hangout with my friends as often as most people do. So the image most people have of me is school,” Lee added.

He emphasized that many already have a perceived image of him, as the stereotypical Asian male. “But outside that, where people don’t see me, I have a social life,” he said.

“I kind of embrace that stereotype a little bit and say, ‘you know what, I want to do well in my academics.’ I want to be this Asian person since, it’s associated with success. But I think as I went through high school, I stopped competing with my friends and started shifting over towards just having fun. I’m co head of Model UN and president in training for Binary Heart. In both I hope to help solve the disparities of the socioeconomic spectrum across the nation,” Lee explained.

Despite devoting his time to extracurriculars, including sports that take up around 10-12 hours a week, to clubs Binary Heart and Model UN taking around six to eight hours, all is balanced.

He looks after his family and two younger sisters, adding that “Overall, I’m pretty satisfied where I’m at. I have five to six friends I would trust my life with. I talk to people in my classes. I’m involved enough, I go to prom, Trevapalooza, etc., but to contrast that, I’m taking the SAT the same day. It’s all about the balance between academics and your social life,” said Lee.

Whether or not New Trier encouraged the stereotypes was a topic debated in Lee’s perspective. Marginalizing one another with presumed expectations is basic human instinct.

Though as Lee states, “It all stems from a feeling of uncertainty, which results in insecurity and a sense of uncomfortableness among people in the majority who don’t understand the minority.”

He argues there isn’t mal intent, but the issue of labels on Asians, blacks, and Hispanics, causes a misinterpretations of one another and a lack of understanding, that the majority assume to be true.

Lee acknowledged in more ways than one, the majority of Asians, including himself, to relate to the Asian stereotype.

“I hung out with a lot of Asians whose parents are tiger parents. Therefore, making the stereotype at New Trier even more prominent. And I can think of several cases where anxiety consumed people burning out because of the stress of academics. But I mean even those people even have personal interests outside of school. Not everything revolves around academics, or how well you do compared to the person next to you,” said Lee.

Regardless, as Lee stated, it’s a lot more than academics, or having the right social communication skills.

“There’s always a spot for someone and hard work will always carry you somewhere. It may not be where exactly you want to be, but it won’t deny you happiness. And I think that if you can be happy, or relatively successful, you’ll have a satisfying life. Which is in my mind, the most important thing.”