Asian Privilege?

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“Privileged” Asians waiting in line for relief supplies during Hurricane Sandy.

Last week, the Libertarian webzine Taki’s Magazine published an article entitled “Tackling Asian Privilege.”  In the piece, writer Gavin McInnes argues that Asians are a “model minority” and enjoy many more advantages than those of other ethnicities.  According to McInnes:

Though many Asians come here with little or no money and live in rough neighborhoods, they are lifted out of this disadvantage within a generation and are soon living an upper-middle-class lifestyle. This is because in America, Asians live a disproportionately advantaged life where things are simply handed to them…These arrogant Orientals flaunt the racist moniker “model minority.” As a people, these Asians need to recognize they got to where they are not by the virtue of hard work but by stepping on the backs of others.

Many of the Asian clients whom AAFE assists are far from “privileged,” needing to apply for food stamps and medical assistance programs.   In the Lower East Side and Chinatown, 22.2% of the 159,009 residents live in poverty. The median income is $43,518 with 30% of residents earning $18,540 or below. This district is distinguished for having the 4th largest population of seniors living below poverty level. With a population that is 36% Asian, many of these seniors are immigrants from China with limited English proficiency (Please see Furman Center’s report for reference).

When Hurricane Sandy struck in November, no one handed the residents of Chinatown a golden spoon.  Many apartment buildings were without power, water, and heat for a week or more.  FEMA arrived in the area with emergency supplies, and countless throngs of residents lined up for hours to await food rations to bring back to their freezing apartments. Does one consider this being overly privileged?


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