I first heard of the phrase “Asian Pride” several years ago in the form of instant message and gamer usernames. Then, I heard it in a few Asian YouTuber music videos.
What is Asian Pride?
As the name implies, Asian Pride is about expressing your pride and honor to have Asian ancestry. Asian Americans have often point to their Asian race as an obstacle to success in their career or dating lives because of racial discrimination or cultural differences.
What Can Be Better About the Traditional Use of Asian Pride
When I first saw the pop culture fad of using “aznpride” as usernames, it confused me. I saw introverted Asian gamers use this phrase often, but the extent of it would be yelling “ASIAN PRIDE” at the end of a conversation or casual displays of pride in games like Maplestory and Runescape. There was also a vibe of arrogance and ego to the expression, sometimes in attempts to cloak what I saw as insecurity, which I don’t like. They’d often return to the real world of school back to there shy, quiet ways, with any serious consideration of showing pride in their race vanishing, replaced with a vibe of not trying to get in anyone’s way.
Having pride in your ancestry is an important, healthy concept that can be communicated in healthy, ethical ways. It’s important for your self-image and self-esteem. But there’s a difference between being proud and believing your country or race is superior to others (that’s chauvinism and it did not end well for Hitler).
In college, I was talking to a white classmate and I mentioned I was Chinese with a tone of embarrassment. I don’t know why I added that tone. It just happened. Maybe I had some hidden beliefs about it being an obstacle given that I was raised in a mostly white environment. He corrected me immediately and told me how I should be proud of where I came from rather than ashamed of it. In that small exchange, he gave me a new, warm, positive outlook.
From then on, I consciously made an effort to be proud of where I came from and how I’m different from others for my self-esteem. It didn’t come from a place of superiority or condescension. It came from a healthy place of seeing others as equals and always making sure I don’t react to my ancestry as a source of shame or as a hindrance.
Your ancestry should be a part of who you are. It doesn’t need to be paraded around and shoved in people’s face. To help you do so, I want to share with you a thought-changing exercise that can change your life.
A Life-Changing Thought Exercise
For the next week, treat one new person you meet without assumptions or judgments every day. You can continue stereotyping everyone else, but make an exception for just one person.
Perception is reality. People judge you based on the little information they have. Stereotypes exist because there’s plenty of people who fit into them.
Being superficial doesn’t mean you’re wrong. I’ve had a hard time grappling with this idea because I always thought it was superficial for people to judge you for anything on the outside and because people have treated me poorly based on the little they saw of me. I
remember feeling so bitter and angry when I went to an entrepreneur’s networking event and most people there didn’t bother to continue a conversation with me and turned their back to me when I said Hi. I was mad because they surely had to have judged me based on being a young, skinny Asian kid who didn’t own a company and didn’t have much to offer.
So, why is it okay to be superficial at times? Well, if your safety is at stake, you want to be careful you don’t get mugged or killed, so you profile dangerous people by what you see. Other times, people’s outer worlds are a representation of their poor internal worlds. Bad grooming often correlate with poor mental health, willpower, and management of life.
But there are times when judging harshly hurts you. What if that poorly dressed man you treated badly is actually a tech millionaire? It’s more common than ever before since people can make a lot of money in fields that don’t require good fashion, like programming and engineering.
A great book on that illustrates this idea is The Millionaire Next Door. The book reveals that most millionaires live frugally, don’t own too much expensive stuff, and take decades to get there. It’s quite a shocking difference from the image most people have of millionaires: young, rich, and living in a mansion. Unfortunately, the flashiest millionaires aren’t the standard but are the type that gets picked up and spread through media.
In fact, the people who look the richest probably aren’t rich and are trying to convince you they are. I met someone who worked at a bank who said she’d seen the accounts of many wealthy people. She said that the richest of them (we’re talking $50 million or more) wore white shirts with holes in them. She said the people who dressed the most flashy and wealthy rich barely had six figures in their account.
I try to avoid assumptions because you never know. That person you just snubbed could change the world one day.
So, how do you tell when to make judgments and when to give someone a chance? Usually, it’s good to give someone a chance when the downside of you doing so is just wasting a few minutes of your time. When the downsides are your personal safety or a severe shortage in time, that’s when you may have to make snap-judgments (e.g., you’re walking down a dark alley and someone steps behind you or you need to catch an important flight in two minutes and you need to find someone who knows directions).
Frankly, most situations are ones when you should do you research and move past snap-judgments. Anyone you meet could make you 10 times more money than you’ve ever had, change your health, dating life, or potential for the better. Don’t let biases force a snap judgment. Investigate.
That said, you’ll probably have to sift through a ton of crap to find a gem. 95% of people I meet at networking events are leeches. They only want something out of you, like a job, and they let you know immediately. But if I don’t give anyone a chance, I will never stumble across that one smart, ambitious person who changes everything.
I’ll show you how how this mindset applies to two scenarios: casual life and dating versus business and career development.
Casual Life and Dating
Rather than getting pissed off that people judge you based on your physique and fashion rather than “what’s inside,” realize that people are a bit superficial and that’s okay. Heck, Asian parents and grandparents are often blatant and obvious with how superficial they are.
In addition, we’re all probably more superficial than we take credit for. Here I was complaining about girls being superficial, when I cared about how a women pleased my eyes.
Think of fashion and grooming as a way to get your foot in the door. You don’t have to be over-the-top with it, but at least be decent. If you haven’t shaved in weeks, your hair is poorly groomed, there’s dried snot in your nose, and you’re wearing a crumbled shirt that’s two sizes too large, you aren’t putting your best foot forward.
Tucker Max says nerds are people with a good product but bad marketing. The truth is that a lot of products sell better in stores because they simply have better packaging and advertising. The product itself may not be much better than its competitors, but they’ve reached the right people strategically and displayed what they have to offer better. That’s what you need to do.
I haven’t cracked the code on this myself, but I have put my best foot forward to judge less and package myself up the best. I’ve judged women to be below my standard of excellence. But looking back, they would’ve been just fine. My harsh standards held me back from befriending and possibly dating good women.
Similarly, there are people who likely judge me as an average Asian man who will stay average with income and all other areas of his life based on just my appearance. I put my best foot forward and communicate how I’m different, acknowledging that people judge, rather than get all angry and storm off.
The takeaway: Take at least 5 minutes a day to make sure you’re properly groomed and dressed. Use the example I just gave to understand some small things you might overlook.
It also applies to your facial expression, tonality, and body language.
Especially if you’re meeting someone for the first time, they will only give you a short time. It’s much easier for women to assume you’re creepy, weird, or a bad person if you give off a creepy vibe, even if in reality, you’re a non-creepy person.
In their case, a false positive is much more dangerous. A false positive means you decide something’s positive (true) when it’s false (not true). Going on a date with a guy who seems great but is really a creepy, psycho killer rapist would spell sure death.
The takeaway: Work on getting friends and/or people with above average social skills to critique your body language, smiling (or lack thereof), facial expressions, and tonality when talking to a girl.
You want to remove creepiness, weird social ticks, low-social intelligence, or anything that makes them assume something negative that you’re not.
The biggest problems are usually creepiness or lack of fun, engaging conversation skills through humor or ability to keep a conversation going.
Pick up artists tell you to secretly record an interaction with a hidden camera to critique. You don’t have to do this.
A less creepy and easier way is to bring your friends to a social event like an improv class, dance class, or networking event. Let them observe your interactions with girls there and ask them for honest feedback afterwards. Tweak what you’re doing wrong. And repeat.
Finally, make sure you use this concept to be aware of conveying who you truly are in key areas such as: desperation, career success, work ethic, kindness, and intelligence.
You could be all of these things: friendly, hard-working, successful, independent, and non-needy.
But in the 10 minutes of first impression you get with a girl, or even the text messages that follow, you could come across lazy, arrogant, rude, poor, and desperate.
And if you do, in her eyes, that is who you are. Most other average guys are typically like this so she’ll easily lump you in.
I just wanted to give you one last crystal clear example to make sure I’ve made it clear.
I could be worth 10 million dollars. I could have every area of my life sorted due to incredible willpower and hard work. I could be healthy. I could be fit. I could be very productive. I could be hard working. I could be caring and a great dad.
But even with all of that, I can dress like a homeless man, roll in a dirt pile, and ask a random girl for her number in a desperate way. From her perception, I’m a desperate homeless man and she has no way of knowing otherwise.
No need to get to anxious or stressed about this. You don’t have to do all of those things to perform. That’s just an extreme example. Quite frankly, you may want to purposefully hide some things like your net worth to avoid gold diggers.
What you can do is slowly move to be slightly more interesting and representative of your true, awesome self.
A smaller example (and this is a real story) was once when I was asked what my hobbies and I said I simply played video games to fit in with everyone else’s answers.
Now, I don’t live as interesting a life as some people, but I’ve done more interesting stuff. I could have said that I recently did some extreme archery or that I had learned to cook incredible meals for very cheap. Instead, I failed. Lesson learned.
Business, Marketing and Career Development
This same concept applies throughout wealth creation in business, marketing, selling, and career development.
The most obvious example is a job interview. You could be the most amazing fit in the world, but if you flop that 10 to 30 minute job interview, you lose.
They will assume you’re a bad fit if you’re late, poorly dressed, or a horrible communicator.
A similar false positive applies here. Google is an extreme example. They will have hiring processes that run for a few months. They will pass on seemingly great candidates if just one thing is off. This is because a false positive employee would cost the company a lot more.
For business and marketing, you could have the most incredible product in the world, but if you don’t convey that to the customer, how could they ever know? They will pass on it and by a poor alternative.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the world’s billionaires worked in sales for many years before they started a business. This includes John Paul DeJoria, Michael Bloomberg, and Sara Blakely.
Joe Polish, another wealthy entrepreneur, explains in this video that selling is not inherently evil. When you truly have an incredible product that will solve problems and change people’s lives, selling is simply about educating people to show them the value of it.
Selling can be evil when used for unethical reasons. This is when you use these powers or skills to scam people to buy things that don’t work well and they don’t need.
If you look at history, the world’s wealthiest people got there by having an incredible product that helped many people and marketing it well. The best example is Steve Jobs and Apple. Steve talked a lot about the importance of marketing to Apple in his speeches. His partner and cofounder to Apple, Steve “Woz” Wozniak, said that Steve was the business and marketing guy while Woz was the hardware tech guy.
Apple is a great example because their product revolutionized the world. They made affordable touch screen phones for the masses. They were the first to properly combine portable music, a phone, text messaging, and internet browsing into one device. They marketed something that should be marketed.
When you look at the crappy products out there, such as in the infomercial space, many of them have been forgotten. This is because the products themselves weren’t that useful and they overemphasized marketing.
In the long run, a combination of both great marketing and great product seem to be what’s important.
You know that phrase that salesman brag about? “I can sell ice to Eskimos.”
It’s a way of conveying how they can get anyone to buy anything.
Don’t be that guy. Don’t be the idiot salesman who’s trying to scam Eskimos by selling them ice (something they don’t need).
Be the businessman extraordinaire who’s selling ice, cold water to people in a 120 degree desert. You don’t even have to sell at that point. The product sells itself. They’re dying for water.
And don’t scam them or over pressure them in the short-run by charging $10 a bottle like I’ve seen in tourist spots in China or Disney world. That’s a short-sighted business strategy.
Be the long-term winner by providing affordable, clean, eco-friendly water through your superior delivery team service.
Bruce Lee’s Approach to Asian Pride
“More than anything else, what I liked most about Bruce was that he never apologized for being Oriental. In a time when so many Asians were trying to convince themselves they were white, Bruce was so proud to be Chinese he was busting with it.” -Amy Sanbo, Bruce Lee’s college girlfriend, from the book Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly
In the 60’s and early 70’s, Bruce Lee embodied a rare pride that most Asian Americans still don’t have to this day. He embraced being different and was forthright with it to everyone he met. The famous director Jon M. Chu has revealed that he would hide and downplay the fact he was Asian in rooms to try to seem more equal with the other people there. He didn’t want to be seen as the “Asian guy.” But he’s slowly start to change his mind about that after directing Crazy Rich Asians.
Bruce’s approach was likely strategic. Rather than hiding it, his personality made him show off his differences. In America, white people discriminated and pointed out he was Chinese. In China, Chinese people pointed out that he wasn’t pure Asian and had developed too many American mannerisms by staying there too long. So Bruce highlighted his differences depending on where he was at the time. In America, he showed off the exotic beauty of Asian martial arts to wow people, most of whom weren’t familiar with it. In China, he played off the fact that Asians were complaining he had a thick, unshaved, non-pure, American beard by joking to people that within a few weeks, all the kids would have the same beard style since they wanted to model him since he was famous.
It’s a unique approach to dealing with discrimination and it worked well for Bruce. Based on his biography, he was braggadocious and his pride may have tipped over to arrogance (not ideal), but overall, he kept a healthy level of pride, without superiority, in his ancestry, which was much needed in a era where there was a scarcity of it. There are different paths to success, and it may not work for you based on your personality.
But one thing is for sure. Bruce’s approach was unique and it’s a mystery how 99.99% of the millions of Asian Americans that have followed have resorted to bowing down their head and downplaying the fact they’re Asian. Since Bruce, it’s a shocker that no one has taken up the mantle, even in their local community, to show as much exuberant love for being Asian to fellow Americans. There’s still a scarcity of it. And I, for one, can learn from Bruce and have been showing more pride with where I came from to whomever I meet.
The Future of Asian Pride
Moving forward, the Asian Pride movement in the Asian American community should flip shame of our race on its head by showcasing the beauty and strengths of the race, including:
- the strong work ethic instilled
- the academic and career success achieved
- the low levels of crime, violence, and drug use
- the greater levels of respect towards women and other people
Obviously, these are generalizations. There are exceptions, like Asian men who disrespect women, but you get the point. Being proud of your race doesn’t mean you have to shoot to the extreme of parading it around in people’s faces and acting like your race is better than others. But it does mean developing a level of self-love and self-esteem that you never had because your classmates made fun of you when you were little, which made you insecure and ashamed of being Asian.
So many people focus on the bad stuff that’s happened to them. I get it. Kids can be mean. But we forget about the good moments too easily. I remember the white classmate who told me to be proud of where I came from. I remember another white classmate who took time to walk around campus with me for twenty minutes when I told him I struggled hard with dating and gave me some good advice and a story of his own tough times. They didn’t have to do this because I just met them. They were brief exchanges and I never saw them again.
Not everyone is evil. There are good people. And there are plenty of reasons being Asian is amazing.
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