Editor’s Note: Ranier Maningding is a copywriter and mastermind behind the social justice page “The Love Life of an Asian Guy“. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own.
I don’t trust anything white people have to say about race — probably because they say asinine shit like this:
Like a seven-year-old child who swerves his chin to avoid the choo-choo train of cough syrup, white folks love to shimmy their way out of acknowledging white privilege. They hate racial responsibilities and they’ll say anything to hot potato the ole’ white guilt back onto people of color, even if that means they have to paint Asians as more privileged than whites.
Yes, this is 100% legit. White people have convinced themselves that “Asians have more privilege than whites” which is the least surprising thing white folks done next to #EcoSexuality, a lifestyle where white folks have sex with the earth, felate bags of bok choy, and rub mung beans all over their dongs.
Before I obliterate this half-assed white lie about Asian privilege, it’s important to acknowledge that Asian-Americans do have certain privileges compared to other people of color. In relation to Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities, Asian-Americans have greater access to high-wage careers, they’re less likely to be racially profiled by employers, bankers, and landlords, and more inclined to be trusted by law enforcement.
However, when you compare the perks of Asianness and white privilege, it’s a no-contest. White privilege is life on the easiest difficulty setting. Not only does white privilege afford white people benefits in literally every single industry (finance, entertainment, tech, publishing, politics, education, et al) but white privilege is also universal. White folks can travel outside the U.S and expect to receive the finest treatment and customer service. White people can turn on any TV, look at any magazine, or play any video game and they’re guaranteed to see at least one, if not all, characters designed to represent whiteness.
All of these benefits, and white folks still choose to swindle this #AsianPrivilege bullshit? Here’s the truth about Asian household income and why it seems like Asian-Americans are more rich than whites, broken into a bite-size, white-friendly pieces.
Multi-Generational Homes Give The Illusion Of Inflated Asian Income
If you’ve ever been to an Asian person’s house, you’ve probably seen your friend’s grandma chillin in the TV room, watching Asian soap operas, and peeling boiled peanuts. This is multi-generational living, and many Asian-American families have grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren all under one roof.
Part of this lifestyle happens because, culturally, Asian-American immigrants view multi-generational living as the antidote for poverty. Why rely on a single income when you can combine seven? Why ask one person to find the remote for you when you can ask all five of them? In exchange for a larger household income divided among multiple relatives, you have to deal with your Asian grandma’s passion for plastic-covered couches and saran-wrapped remotes (don’t ask, it’s an Asian thing.)
In contrast with white families, white homes are able to sustain a high household income despite having far less members. When you account for family size and individual income, the difference between White and Asian individual wages become negligible. And when you consider the fact that white people have more upward mobility across multiple job industries and Asians live with a bamboo ceiling, you say “Fuck it, I’m gonna be the best Asian male stripper in all of Little Rock, Arkansas!”
Census Doesn’t Count The Over 1.46 Million Undocumented Asian Immigrants in The U.S., Many of Them Impoverished
When we talk about undocumented immigration, we always point the finger at Latinos. In truth, an estimated 1.46 million Asian-Americans live in the United States as undocumented residents. Some of these immigrants have expired visas, many were adopted by American parents who forgot to finish the paperwork, others were World War 2 veterans who were promised American citizenship in exchange for their service, but never received their papers.
Without any concrete wage statistics for the 1.46 million undocumented Asian immigrants, our understanding of Asian income is incomplete. How can we accurately say that Asians earn higher than whites when we can’t even account for the 1.46 million without papers?
What we do know, however, is that undocumented Latino household incomes were far less than U.S residents, they’re less likely to have health insurance, and have high rates of poor education. Given the number of elderly Asian-Americans cramped in low-income housing around the nation, I wouldn’t be surprised if undocumented Asians had equally high rates of poverty.
High-Wage, Highly Educated Immigrants Skew Our Perception of “Asian Privilege”
Growing up in Silicon Valley, I met a lot of Asian families shacked up in million dollar homes. I’m talkin’ spoiled rotten Asian kids who made it rain with daddy’s checkbook, ordering Yeezys and BMWs like they were packets of gum from the Dollar General.
Many of these families were born and raised in the Bay, but most were immigrants. Immigrants who would have never made it in America had it not been for 1965. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In it, Johnson included a stipulation that would lift previous immigration restrictions on Asian countries and allow Asian immigrants, preferably those who were highly skilled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM.)
This. Changed. Everything.
What was once a clenched anus of immigration enforced during the Chinese Exclusion Act now became an open buttcheek for Asians to go in, out, in, and out, so long as they were lubed up with a proper education. Immediately after singing the Immigration Act, thousands of Chinese doctors, Indian engineers, and Filipino nurses migrated to the states and told their relatives back home to “bring your asses over here so we can fire up the karaoke machine!”
STEM was the golden ticket for Asian immigrants, and in many ways it still is. Many, if not most, American tech companies employ millions of Asian immigrants every year through the H1B Visa program. An H1B visa allows you to live and work in the U.S, pay taxes, be on the receiving end of racism, and contribute to statistics on household income.
Those stats on wicked high Asian household incomes? A large portion of that was influenced by Asian H1B visa workers who were already highly educated Asian doctors and high earning software engineers back in their hometown.