Four days after the Wall Street Journal published Amy Chua's essay, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," it continues to spark controversy. The piece itself has garnered more than 3,500 comments on WSJ's website and bloggers from Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man to Maureen O'Connor of Gawker and Danielle Belton of The Black Snob have taken Chua to task for claiming that Chinese mothers raise highly successful children by berating their young, withholding affection from them, or denying them meals and sleep until the little ones manage to meet mom's expectations in academia, music, and beyond.
My personal reaction to the piece is mixed. I absolutely agree with Chua that parents should have high expectations for children, shouldn't praise kids for mediocre work or prioritize athletics over academics. That said, I also agree with Chua's detractors at the previously mentioned blogs who say that the tactics the Yale Law School professor uses on her children may lead them to suffer severe emotional distress down the line, if not currently. But rather than debate the pros and cons of Chua's childrearing strategies, I'd like to examine a major stereotype running through her piece: Mothers of color are cruel.
Makeup giant Maybelline has a newsletter of sorts in which consumers answer a few questions and get tips on choosing products most suitable for their look. An Asian-Canadian blogger who uses the moniker Rasilla was happy enough to answer Maybelline's questions about her appearance. But after choosing "brown" for eye-color, Rasilla was asked to select the shape of her eyes. Her options? Close set, wide set, hooded, Asian, almond, down-turned, deep-set, prominent and centered. Let's backtrack for a moment. One of the options was Asian. That's right, Asian. Rasilla wasn't too pleased about this.
If you've yet to read Ishamel Reed's editorial "Fade to White" in the New York Times about Precious, get to it post-haste! In the piece, Reed makes some excellent points about portrayals of black men in popular culture and why the film has received such a favorable reception from whites but been met with resistance in the black community.