Posted by June, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm
The census confirms what most of us have observed. It is heartwarming to see the involvement of the Asian community in Palo Alto affairs. I hope, too, that the Asian community will adopt and help preserve the values that have made Palo Alto the wonderful city it is.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm
>>I hope that Palo Alto will adopt and preserve the Asian cultural values that have made Asian immigrants the most successful immigrant group in a century.
Be careful with this kind of statement. Palo Alto's values are already quite good (not perfect, but we're in pretty reasonable shape here). The same values that leads a group to be successful can also carry a cost. For example, while it is true that Asian families value education highly (a long-standing value in Palo Alto that pre-dates immigration of any particular ethnic group), demands to shift things, such as the Mandarin-immersion program that services only a few, may or may not be welcomed. Additionally, one of the things I have observed is that Asians appear to be less inclusive than whites or hispanics. Many children in Asian families seem to play only with other Asian children and Asian families in our neighborhood seem less likely to initiate or participate in community activities more broadly held and social in nature. Am not sure why that is; perhaps a language barrier, feelings of alienation, or cultural differences? I think it's great that ethnic diversity is growing in Palo Alto, but don't think diversity means much if there is not also social interaction and an inclusive spirit. It would be great to hear from those in the Asian community, as this is something I don't quite understand.
Posted by Chinese Born in America, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Mar 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm
This may be an eye opener to the whites, but many of us Asians are apprehensive of the growth. We would have moved to Cupertino if we wanted to live amongst all Asians. However, many of the Asians who can afford to move to Palo Alto are more intellectual, sociable, and interested in assimilating than those in other cities, at least in my area of Palo Alto.
High in the priorities for Asian culture is education. Secondly, public education, which is why Palo Alto draws them here and to the UC system.
Posted by it's complicated, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm
Impossible to characterize that Asian kids only play with each other, anymore than white kids only play with each other. Just depends on who you are, maybe if you were a white kid in Asia, you'd stick with your brew too. In Palo Alto, you might be playing with a white kid with an Asian parent, or with an Asian kid with a white parent.
Everything is mixed, and what is becoming clear is that multiculturalism is failing,
if you want to not waste your time arguing about who is better or worst - just accept people for who they are.
as far as policy is concerned, there will be a limit as to how much can be done to accommodate individuality of cultures cultures - see Europe, where it is confirmed
Multiculturalism has failed (from a public policy point of view)
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Many of these comments are unsubstantiated generalizations. Do you personally know Asians in Palo Alto? I do (I'm white, BTW), and it would be impossible for me to say that, for example, my Asian friends in Palo Alto are "less inclusive" than others. Would you feel comfortable expressing similar generalizations about other racial or ethnic groups? I doubt it. Maybe that's the question to ask yourself in the future, before you start to draw sweeping conclusions about your fellow Palo Alto residents who are Asian.
Posted by Funny, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm
Coming from an open minded individual that is white, i would like to state that i also have noticed that the majority of Asians in Palo Alto are seclusive. I'm not saying all, but the majority of them who haven't assimilated appear to be closed to the option. Although i have seen this change over the years; don't get me wrong, but it seems to be a longer process. People aren't being racist just because they're pointing out things that are evident and noticeable. Being blunt is a characteristic that i find to be very successful in revealing issues/suggestions that need to be looked at and considered. Especially because ethnocentrism is very abundant in Palo Alto. The fact is if you move to this country you're going to have to let go of some of your cultural values especially if they're pertaining to a communist way of life.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm
It is interesting to note that many of the churches along Middlefield Road now have Asian attachments. The signs are often in one of several Asian languages, but it appears that there are many Christian Asian congregations who like to worship in their own languages.
This seems that Asians are bringing their own culture and language into what was once traditional American church and religion. If the churches are unable to fill with English speakers, then it is appropriate that they fill with those who want to worship the same God but in a different religion.
Posted by Ed, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm
One interesting thing (to me) is how many of the people posting talk about "Asians" as though they are monolithic. Asia hosts so many cultural, ethnic, language, national, political, religious and other traditions. Those differences across people from Japan and China and Taiwan and South Korea are significant. More to the point, there are numerous differences within these countries as well.
Lastly, also hidden in this discussion of "Asians" is the fact that any given "Asian" in Palo Alto may be a person who happens to be of Asian descent, but may or may not have much cultural affiliation with their heritage. It is this looking at a person and generalizing what they must be like based on what they look like that makes some of the assumptions made by other posters racist. Even if that wasn't the intent.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Interestingly, it is the census that is being discussed and from my recollection of the form, there were no questions about what country of Asia people were from or whether they were Asian born or American born from Asian descent.
Perhaps you should ask the census people to clarify that on the forms in 2020.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 8:17 am
I hate racism and am all for diverse, multi-ethnic neighborhoods. I have one observation and one concern about Chinese residents. My experience in my own street is that our Chinese neighbors are never rude, but show no interest in being sociable with their non-Chinese neighbors. They will sometime reply to a "hi' or 'good morning' greeting, but hardly ever initiate it. Education is great and immensely important, but it seems that Asian immigrants perceive it mostly as an economic engine and not as something that would make their kids well rounded, knowledgeable human beings. my high school student son tells me that his Asian classmates will never read a novel unless it's a required curriculum reading. It's clear Asian-Americans are educational overachievers, and have been for many decades. There are various explanations for the high educational achievement of Asian-Americans. The most frequently cited theory is that their native culture places a premium on ambition, persistence, and deferred gratification. It seems however that their kids are denied a real childhood by being required to spend almost every waking moment in study-related activities. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by 2cents, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 8:53 am
My understanding of the census designation of Asian includes India, so it is a geographical term not a racial one. (It's the same with Latino since many are European descent to some extent.) Peoples from India are Caucasian but I believe they are expected to consider themselves Asian on the census. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Posted by Feel fine, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 9:25 am
My personal experience results in dividing residents into "first-generation" vs "second-generation" to see any meaningful differences. My broad generalization would be that if people were born in the US or moved here as younger kids, then they are likely culturally within the bell-curve some might call "American" (if you were to speak to them on the phone they would seem "American" as would be the case with almost all my middle-schoolers classmates). Those who recently moved to the US, whether Chinese, Southern Asian, Eastern European or former USSR (many of whom would be Census-White, making the designation as meaningless as Census-Asian for cultural generalization) generally seem less approachable or willing to interact or have their kids hang with my kids and fit in less, although I find many exceptions to the rule with first-gen newcomers clearly going out of their way to introduce themselves and become part of the larger community well beyond the average "White local". that all being said for me personally (white local of 25 years) I won't stick around if PA becomes a first-gen Asian-culture town as Cupertino seems to me. I won't however complain: as a free-marketer I can't argue with the fact that the reason Census-Asians bought 18 of the last 20 houses in my neighborhood is because they were willing to pay more for them. Every day is the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)-REM
Posted by Adobe, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 9:47 am
Daniel and Sally,
Before you get down on the Asian immigrants too much, just remember that if you don't speak English as your native language and you grew up in a different culture, it's not always the easiest thing to suddenly jump into a new country and start acting American, as much as your neighbors might wish you would.
Unless your ancestors were from England or Canada, I suspect when your grandparents, great-grandparents or whoever were the first in your families to come over here, when they came to the US, they probably sought out fellow immigrants from their native lands who they had more in common with. When you watch "Godfather 2", do you shake your head in disapproval at Robert DeNiro and all his fellow Italian immigrants for sticking to their own kind and not assimilating? Even if you do, you don't have to worry because DeNiro's character's kids--their nefarious criminal activities aside--all end up becoming completely American.
This is the pattern American immigration has always followed: "native" Americans complain that new immigrants are too different to ever assimilate and then the second generation defies those gloomy expectations and becomes completely American. The WASPs complained about the Irish, Italians, and Jews a hundred years ago, and now you guys are complaining about the Asians.
As a second generation Asian American, believe me, I'm also uncomfortable with "Tiger Mom" parenting techniques and wouldn't dream of using that approach. But I do understand that new immigrants to this country feel a pressure to establish financial stability and achieve success that the rest of us might not. Let's face it, these Asian immigrants didn't save up enough money to live in Palo Alto by getting bad grades in school and not working hard at their careers. On some level, you can't blame them for a world view that reflects their own experience.
It seems that for some people on this board, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Asians work too hard and are ruining our schools. African Americans and Latinos are not intelligent, commit crime, and our ruining our schools. What are you really trying to say?
Posted by Ollie, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:37 am
The census race baits if you stop and think about it.
And I agree that there is little value in comparing past immigrant populations, or ever non-Palo Alto Asian immigrants, to the wealthy Asians buying up land in Palo Alto (many recently arrived on visas granted based on personal wealth).
Posted by Chinese Born in America, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:51 am
Adobe explains it well.
It's human nature to bond with those who are like you. Research indicates that people even marry people who look like them (notice this sometime - it's humorous). If you visit our elementary school after school, you will witness WASPS talking to each other, Asians talking to each other, nannies talking to each other, and then all of the above talking with each other. If you were to walk into a room full of all different ethnicities, who would you feel the most comfortable with (disregarding personalities)? Most likely, the bonding and trust would be with the person who speaks, looks like you and has your cultural heritage.
I lived for years in a WASP town in the Midwest. People there did not reach out to each other. Sure, they'd greet each other, but dive into conversation? No. Whites keep to themselves too, depending on their sub-culture. I know plenty of people in our neighborhood who are white and Asian who do not follow some of the stereotypes mentioned above.
I know plenty of immigrant Asians who do not follow the Tiger Mom belief (in fact, it's so extreme, that I highly doubt any follow it in Palo Alto, at least). When I first moved here, I too figured that immigrant Asians were all the same, forcing their children to study with disregard to social skills. Sure, there are those, but I have met too many exceptions to continue to believe that stereotype. The North Palo Alto Asians I have met are much more moderate than those in Fremont and Cupertino.
Remember that we are in a bubble in Palo Alto. People are not as opinionated, friendly and intellectual elsewhere. Don't expect that of all Palo Altans.
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 11:07 am
I totally agree. As a long term resident of Palo Alto, one of my favorite midtown Safeway dramas is the clearly immigrant Chinese mom admonishing, in her native language, her hilariously americanized teen daughter, who answers her in English monosyllables. I love this town. LOL.
Its true, our families were all immigrants at some point, well most of us anyway!
Posted by Welcome to PA!, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm
We all know that Palo Alto is a very special place to live:beautiful setting and weather; great schools and cultural activities, and a highly-educated, cosmopolitan population As a long time resident, I've seen PA blossom from a small-town in which University Avenue was dark by 9pm to the international center of high tech innovation, R&D, and jobs, Being internaitonally famous has put PA as the go to destination for education and jobs for anyone who can afford to move here. No wonder immigrants are coming in droves. They are aided by the US deficit and weak economy which favors China, Taiwan and Korea. These newcomers ARE different; they come from various cultural heritages, speak different languages, and practice ways of living different from that of a long time resident.
I am speaking about recent immigrants from ANY country, because as was stated before, many in the census are 2nd generation or longer residents and, it appears to me, are functionally assimilated.
In any case, the census affirms what we all have noticed in our neighborhoods and schools - many Asians are moving in, and who can blame them? We have no right to expect anything from them in terms of adjusting to "our" values, life style, language or assimilating with our children. We are, as humans, obligated to show them respect and concern as we would any neighbor or classmate. It would be so much easier if they were just like us! But if old timers, like me, or anyone harboring a "NIMBY" resentment has a problem with the competitive nature of Palo Alto schools and the dearth of homogenous neighbors, we can always move.
Posted by Riparian, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm
If parents of school-age children move to Palo Alto because the educational opportunities are seemingly so wonderful, then why do some of them join other complainers about how teachers do their jobs, for example teaching math?
Posted by GlobalCitizenship, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm
I think John Lennon said it best in "Imagine".
It would be better if the media would intiate the subliminal brainwashing in terms of global citizenship instead of citizenship by country, continent, language, race, creed, color etc. etc.....then one would not have to worry about any census increases/decreases of a particular language, race, creed, color etc.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm
I welcome the movement of multi- ethnic and multi-racial new residents to Palo Alto. It would be tragic if Palo Alto remained a WASPY homogeneous community. My concern was and still is focused on the Tiger Mom mentality which I have observed personally. An example:a few years ago we invited a Chinese classmate of my son, whose family lives next door to us to join us for a weekend camping trip to Big Sur. This was during the summer break. The boy was an outstanding student, but his mom, to his great chagrin, forbade him to go because "he has to study". This was on the weekend, and during the summer break. The mom would also refuse to let him come over to use our pool, again, on weekends, during the summer break, claiming that he had to study.
Posted by GlobalCitizenship, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm
1. What if the census simply looked for an increase or decrease in the number of person?
2. Would the census be lacking sensationalism if didnt slice and dice all nationalities except the Black and White?
3. Why has not anyone questioned the very obvious point that is staring in everyone's face: why does the census not categorize the "white" or "Black" categories in to White English, White German, White Polish, Black Kenyan, Black South African, Black Nigerian....and so on and on. After all, even white and black people come in different flavors do they not?
4. In anthropological terms: Do races called Asian? White? Black? Latino? even exist?
Ergo: the census is nothing but divisive, and provides no scientifically meaningful information, and the media jumps on this stuff simply to fan the flames to increase viewership/sales.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm
>>one of the things I have observed is that Asians appear to be less inclusive than whites or hispanics. Many children in Asian families seem to play only with other Asian children and Asian families in our neighborhood seem less likely to initiate or participate in community activities more broadly held and social in nature.
This is what I have observed also. I have a number of neighbors who are Asian (primarily Chinese), adult immigrants with 1st generation children and can't help but notice that the only children their children play with are also Chinese. Although always respectful and responsive to greetings, they, with one exception, do not attend neighborhood events to which all are invited. Please understand, this isn't a criticism; it is an attempt to understand the tendency. I also have East Indian immigrant neighbors (1st gen.) who are very active and much more open. A friend who lived in Cupertino for years tried very hard to make connections in their neighborhood by taking plates of brownies or whatever to neighbors (even though they were the newcomers), inviting kids to play, and having BBQs. The neighborhood was overwhelmingly Chinese. They finally moved because they so valued having a sense of community and all efforts failed to develop those connections. They now live in a different community where it has been much easier to feel connected and the children have a neighborhood full of other kids to play with.
Please understand, I was raised in an urban, multicultural/ multilingual neighborhood where language and cultural differences never seemed to interfere with friendships (just the opposite, actually), so I am very happy to see Palo Alto become more ethnically diverse. My comments are intended to open a dialogue to help me better understand the more seclusive lifestyle. If it is preferred, then I just need to respect that; however, if some feel there overtures would not be welcomed, I certainly like to change that if I could.
And to clarify, my initial comments and similar comments by others were not generalizations ".. Asians appear to be less inclusive than whites or hispanics. Many children in Asian families seem to play only with other Asian children and Asian families in our neighborhood seem less likely to initiate or participate in community activities" (notice the words "appear to be", "seem to", and "seem less likely". Generalizations intended to stereotype and criticize any particular group is unjustified at best and racist at worst. That's not what my comments are about. It's more about trying to promote understanding of what I, and others, see so that I know how to better extend myself to my neighbors -- and perhaps encourage those who are hesitant to extend themselves, for whatever reason, by letting them know that such efforts will be welcomed and valued.
Posted by Chinese Born in America, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm
The immigrants are considered the 1st generation. Second generation are their children. The second generation adults end up assimilating by the time they are adults and many of them resent their parents' parenting. When they have their 3rd generation children, their children are completely assimilated to American culture.
So basically, the people here are complaining about 1st generation immigrants being unsociable and psycho with the academics, not 2nd generation or beyond. There are 3rd through 5th generation Chinese in the area too. I completely agree that East Indian Asians are far more sociable than other Asians.
Posted by Midtown parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm
Just curious, does anyone know where we can see the actual data for the population breakdown?
What I'm interested in is, since you could check off two or more boxes on the census, what is the population of bi/multi-racial people? And how are they counted when it is reported that Palo Alto is "27.1% Asian"? Are they included in the number if one of the boxes they checked was an Asian group, or are they left out entirely?
Posted by Globalcitizenship, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm
Could it be that the "Asians" are looking at US history and taking stern "Tiger Mom" lessons from the skeletons in the US cupboard whereas the rest of us have conveniently forgotten those lessons: 2 examples to illustrate this obvious point that seems to have escaped attention:
1. Were the Chinese not despised at some point in the history of the US - in the 19th and early 20th centuries - to the extent that laws were drafted specifically against them to discourage their integration into US society, and their immigration to the US?
2. Were the Japanese not sent to internment camps in WWII on the drop of a dime based solely on their race regardless of their US citizenship or lack of involvement with Emperor Hirohito's empire?
Based just on these 2 festering skeletons in the US cupboard of history, would it not make sense that any rationally functioning person/group would want to be just a little too cautious about trusting or wanting to mingle with the "other side" given the cruel history? And it is a history that keeps repeating itself: today, as we debate the census, there is an ongoing Congressional inquisition into Muslim radicalization in the US (who knows what kind of laws are going to be drafted against them) - next on the agenda, why not the Chinese again on the grounds of "national security" because of the rise of a powerful China. Not too far back it was the "Communists" who were hounded by Congress ("McCarthyism" - they called it conveniently)...is it a wonder then that there is extreme caution exercised by the "Asian" members wanting to associate too hastily with the natives??
Posted by jb, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm
It amuses me every time I hear "Americans" complaining that the Asians are taking unfair advantage by their single-minded industriousness and educational ambition.
What Westerners don't know ( and I only learned by reading) is that the Chinese in particular have a tradition of study that is built into their blood. Since the first Chinese Emperor set up his government the Chinese people,wherever the boundaries of the state appeared at the time, have understood that they have to study to get on in life. That Emperor was unique in populating his government by requiring people to compete for positions of service. No nepotism here, or at least not very much.
Soldiers competed to show their skills. Stable attendants had to show they could handle and care for horses. Accounts keepers had to show they could write and understand commercial and treasury records. Weavers and tradesmen serving the government applied and competed. Since before the common era the Chinese have been up against the Civil Service Examination. To pass it you trained and studied.
As Americans, our history has presented us with training and study as only one option. The other options were grit, tenacity, individual initiative, and entrepreneurial drive. And then there was the frontier. Some of these avenues are not so wide open as they were even 60 years ago. As education is increasingly becoming the only way, and I think much of America may be knuckling down to the challenge. But a lot of us resent expense and the isolation of getting ahead by getting educated. We also have our cult of genius. Some are born with talent and they get ahead. Along come Asian families who make the discipline and isolation of pursuing an education a priority, and they confuse some of us.
Keeping their heads down and working hard has been an Asian value for a couple of thousand years. I repeat, Asian families are not taking unfair advantage by working too hard. It is a heritage of almost 2,000 years. We are not quite 250 years old as a nation.
Posted by Souther Roots, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm
Thanks to GlobalCitizenship for the reminder on “Imagine”.
Sigh…As much as it is human nature to generalize, I really do wish we would not. As many of the comments before me, the Asian population in Palo Alto is quite a mixed bag. In terms of national origin, we have Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and…American. In terms of generations, we have the new immigrants, affectionately known as the FOB or the Fresh-Off-the-Boat generation; then there is the 2nd+ generations whose only links to their heritage are their looks and their ability to properly pronounce the name of certain dishes off of an ethnic menu. Like other humans, some Asians keep to themselves while others are more gregarious and are quite involved in civic duties, school events, and the community. And kids will play with kids they like. My son always played with all sorts of kids, just not the ones that didn’t play fair or whined a lot.
A lot of the contributing factors to human behaviors are simply based on one’s personality, one’s upbringing, one’s self esteem, and one’s immigrant generation. We may not know why people act a certain way. What I do know from experience is sincere hellos and smiles make great ice breakers.
Yes, Really? is right. Generalization, as one of my college courses taught me long ago, is the basis of prejudice. Maybe we should keep that in mind…Along with John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
Posted by 1st gen Asian Immigrant, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm
Adobe said it the best.
It is not that we Chinese don't want to assimilate, or participate. It takes time. when you work 40 hours a week, I probably had to work 60 or 70 hours to keep up with you. So I may not have the time to watch SNL, NFL, Modern Family, or CNN/FOX, depending on your political ideology is to be able to converse with you at a neighborhood BQQ or hallway conversation when dropping off the kids. While you're having a 4th of July BQQ party I was probably still in the office working with colleagues in China, as the factory there mostly operates 24/7.
So please help your neighbor. If he does not understand American Football, then ask what kind of sports is popular back in his home country or invite him over to watch football game together.
My first 10 years here was just going back and forth between work and home. It was only when I attended graduate school 3 years ago, when I made the effort to watch college football, play poker with classmates on the weekend, and pay attention to politics (FOX NEWS only, by the way) that I'm finally able to have "normal" conversation.
So once again, don't give up on your new Asian neighbors. We will catch up, eventually. I can proudly tell you that I have been studying American history, the founding fathers, the Constitutions and came to the conclusion that I am a Libertarian. And I'm just as patriotic as you are, if not more :-)
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm
Since we are talking generalizations, we can see that all foreign cultures coming here have to assimilate. Some may look like they belong here more than others, but they too could have just stepped off the plane from Ireland, France, Australia, or Eastern Europe. Some may have spoken English all their lives but have no idea what a ballpark guess, a Hail Mary, or who Willie Mays or Babe Ruth could possibly be.
They may have come from Wisconsin, Vermont or Manitoba, and still feel that they are in a foreign land.
It is easy to generalize - the Italians eat Pasta, the French and their kids drink wine with every meal while the Germans prefer beer.
But come to think of it, I know very few born and raised Californians. In fact, someone from SoCal is almost as much a stranger as someone from New York when it comes to fitting in.
I don't think any of us need to be told how to talk to new neighbors, to show kindness with brownies or where to go to get the best take out or haircut. But we do need to realise that everyone is different and whether they come from India, China, Russia or England, they are all individuals and don't come from cookie cutter cultures. Most people I have met from different cultures are pleased to make my acquaintance and vary in their level of friendliness just the same as someone who may have moved here from Oregon. We may have different tastes in food and sport, but we will all bleed red blood.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm
Being a multi-cultural community is one of the wonderful things about living in Palo Alto. I'm happy to have new neighbors - whether they are from Iceland, China or Sunnyvale. While every culture is different, I do think many of us have experienced situations similar to those mentioned above, reaching out to new neighbors or parents of our children's classmates, only to be politely rebuffed. As a community that values, well, community, this is a difficult thing for most of us to understand. And at the elementary schools where there is such a strong tradition of parent support and volunteering (which is BTW one of the reasons we have a great school system), there are parents who refuse to participate in any way. This is unfortunate because as a community we could benefit from their new and different view points.
Posted by 2nd gen Asian immigrant, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm
I want to address the comments that Asian parents are "seclusive" and "forbid their children to play in order to study".
First of all, those are usually first generation immigrants. Yes, there is often a language barrier. And no, many do not "carry loads of cash". Mine certainly did not. We worked several years as a lower-class family, just so I would have the privilege of growing up in America. And you know what? Why would I waste all of their time and efforts if I DON'T study my heart off in school? I want to show them that their sacrifice was not in vain. Hence I often stay home to study when my friends are out having a good time. Many people in Palo Alto live in a bubble where they have never experienced what it is like to be a lower-class family. I am going off-tangent, but my point is:
Please understand the intrinsic reasons behind why the Asian-American community is often portrayed as seclusive. We value a sense of community and multiculturalism as much as anyone else - it just takes some time (such as one generation) to adjust to American culture.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm
This is a multicultural country. The native/indigenous Americans were pretty much destroyed by the first European settlers. Now Americans come from all over the world. Immigration is as American as apple pie....it's who we are, it makes the culture rich and special.
Re-read the remarks about Asians in some of these letters -- and understand that similar "they don't fit in" comments were made about the Irish immigrants, Italians, African Americans, Hispanics, and certainly about the Jews.
Posted by Maura, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm
I don't have an opinion but would like to point out the facts so that the discussion and/or debate is at least accurate. The OVERWHELMiNG majority of Asians to move here in the last 10 years have been Chinese and Indian, but people keep mentioning Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean-they aren't statistically significant. And the OVERWHELMINGLY majority of the Asian parents are foreign-born who had elite educations so that they could qualify to come work in Silicon Valley. And they OVERWHELMINGLY moved to South Palo Alto so that their kids could attend the elementary schools that feed into Gunn (see the Asian enrollment at Gunn vs, Paly). This happened because Gunn was rated "higher" than Paly in the Newsweek poll repeatedly in the past 10 years. To me it's not relevant that they're Chinese or Indian, but that they're immigrants which does make for a different cultural dynamic both socially and academically. And yes, the Indians do seem to socialize and joke more with people, perhaps due to having very good English skills when they arrive. The immigrant Chinese have a tight community as did my relatives when they came from Ireland 150 years ago.
So what I see happening is South Palo Alto will keep losing American born residents as they sell/rent their homes to yet more immigrant-Asian families until shortly Palo Alto will be majority Asian in South Palo Alto and majority non-Asian, primarily Caucasian US Born residents in North Palo Alto. It's not whether that is good or bad, but it will happen, or rather is happening now.
What I try to explain to my friends who don't know Palo Alto and think it is a very white wealthy suburb is that we have ethnic diversity, but no class or economic diversity. And the ethnic diversity is not reflective of California as a whole-no Hispanic or black population on par with state percentages and Asian population over 3 times the state average. Again, just trying to give perspective.
Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm
Josh could be right, but more likely it's THEIR issue and it has nothing to do with you. Sometimes Chinese want to shield their children from too much fun because they think their children will become lazy and not want to do well in school. Also, Asians don't like to burden others and they might think it is a burden to have you care for their child 24/7. They might feel they owe you one and don't want that burden on themselves. Another reason could be that they just don't want their son to go away without them. Chinese are worriers, thus they choose stable professions.
Chinese immigrants have a difficult time saying "no" so instead, they will give an excuse, or simply not reply to an email (when you know they usually respond promptly). They'll finally respond with the excuse of not receiving the email in time. It's frustrating to me, being raised in America, but it's part of the Chinese culture. My husband has to hear me whining about how their excuses make no sense at all and he (2nd generation) reminds me that the Chinese say "no" by making an excuse so that the other person doesn't feel bad by being turned down.
Posted by Watcher, a resident of another community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Very impressed with Maura's accurate comments. Having helped a close friend sell one south Palo Alto house and rent out another recently, I find Maura's comments to be very insightful. The Asian families we dealt with were very different from the ones I grew up around in Palo Alto, as they were more commonly Stanford-affiliated. The Gunn rankings really changed things.
Having spent a lot of time in south Palo Alto, the Indians do seem more comfortable socializing outside of their culture, moreso than many of the Chinese and much of it also seemed language-based to me. I may be wrong, but some of the Chinese seemed hesitant to socialize based on their busy schedules, as if they didn't want to be distracted from what they had going on. These were immigrants, so it'll be interesting to see how things change in Palo Alto as their children grow.
Posted by Jarred, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm
I live on a street with some Asian families. They are in general very nice, and good neighbors. I don't envy them the reverse discrimination they experience in college admissions though--a classic case of the maxim that no good deed goes unpunished.
Also, I have noticed that at the Oshman JCC, a high percentage of the members are Asian. At least in the fitness center. Jews and Asians seem to have an affinity, I've noticed this in other places as well.
Good people of Palo Alto, please remain calm and enjoy your Asian neighbors.
Posted by Hmm, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
@ Watcher - yeah, I've met my share of Asian (mostly Chinese, some Indian, most 1st gen) folks who, when learning that I live in Palo Alto or somehow talking about Palo Alto, mention Gunn. But...again too many folks here are generalizing, so please let's not assume that everyone of Asian background in the Gunn district is here because of the rankings that came out a few years ago. I'm in the Gunn district, but it has nothing to do w/ the rankings of Gunn vs. Paly (or that I was a Gunn alum decades ago).
@ Maura - perhaps the fact that people "keep mentioning Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean", etc. is because so many folks here are using the term "Asian" when they are referring specifically to certain groups - people of Chinese ethnicity in particular. Anyone saying that "Asians in Palo Alto are..." is directly including ALL groups characterized as Asian, hence the call-out from a lot people here.
Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford, on Mar 10, 2011 at 12:37 am
So many here are declaring themselves foes of racism, yet no one called out a comment above: "It would be tragic if Palo Alto remained a WASPY homogeneous community." Why is it always okay to criticize WASPS?
Posted by susan, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 7:33 am
My relatives up and down the east coast have heard of Gunn High School and its stellar reputation. It is known internationally as being a superior high school. I am proud of that and glad my kids were able to go there and thrive. Demographic changes are inevitable - we should celebrate that. I am a WASP by the way.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 8:13 am
Daniel - Despite your generous offer, it could be as simple as the child or the parent was not comfortable with the weekend away. Neither of my HS age kids is eager to go away with another family, not even really close friends. Its not personal, just their preference.
Posted by Ted, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 8:13 am
For everyone spouting globalization and diversity, then the Chinese or Asians are hardly a minority. In fact, it is the WASP that are the minority on a global scale and who add diversity to a mostly Asian global population.
Posted by Born-American, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:48 am
My first post was censored (presumably) because it pointed out that corruption is/has been a key component of Asian societies. The underlying issue, as to whether this "cultural value" will be transplanted into our American political, moral, and business environments was not acceptable to the Weekly, sadly.
Let's look at an example of this corruption, that occurred recently in Mexico, during a parade in Mexico City that was in celebration of the beginning of the most recent Chinese New Year (the year of the rabbit)--
The article documents that members of Falong Gong, a group that has annoyed the ChiCom government to the point of being "banned in Beijing" (and all of China for that matter), entered a float in the New Year's parade. The Chinese embassy, leaning on a local, friendly, businessman, indicated that it would "really appreciate it" if "no good came to the Falong Gong float" (or words to that effect). So, this guy hired some "bully-boys", who trashed the float as it was moving in the parade--leaving us with the clear message: "Beijing gets what Beijing wants".
So .. here's another Chinese "cultural value" to deal with: "the assertion of worldwide Beijing politics". At what point in time do Chinese who have left China, actually stop being Chinese citizens (or obedient, at least) to the will of the Chinese Communist Party?
The original posting raised the question of a lack of "individuality" in Asian cultures. This recent example in Mexico City, brings this question into its full light.
(BTW--The Epoch Times is a very interesting publication, which is completely anti-Beijing/Communist Party in its outlook, and presentation. People interested in better understanding an "Asian" point-of-view (at least from that of a Chinese Diaspora), would be well-served reading this publication.
The history of education in China began with the birth of Chinese civilization. The nobles often set up the educational establishments for their offspring. Establishment of the civil service examinations (advocated in the Warring States period, originated in Han, founded in Tang) was instrumental in transition from the aristocratic to meritocratic government.
From reading through this Wikipedia page, it's clear that until the appearance "European forces" in China, that China's education system was for the ruling class, and only, the ruling class. Public education was never a core "cultural value" of Chinese (or any Asian) culture until perhaps 1960 (given the events that overcame Asia between 1900 and 1955)--and then it was driven by the Chinese governments desire to destroy any remnants of the "ruling class".
There is nothing wrong with cherishing, and promoting, personal, and family-centric education. But we need to keep this in mind when we claim that Asian cultures' appreciation is a core value.
Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:18 am
Born-American: Chinese are law-abiding citizens. Let me know how many Chinese are in prison compared to other races and ethnicities. Let me know how many times we see a Chinese name in the media for the person breaking the law. I'm guessing we have the lowest rate of crime of all ethnicities in America. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
China's crackdown on corruption has cast a shadow over the powerful Railways Ministry. Former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun has been fired and there are accusations that more than $100 billion is missing.
While some might argue that highly visible corruption cases should not be used to "tar" a complete cultural group, or population--the counter argument is that corruption that reaches the top of a bureaucracy must necessarily be be sustained all the way to the basement of that structure. American companies have been quite willing to pay bribes to corrupt individuals (all over the world) to obtain business, but we have been fairly good at suppressing that kind of behavior within our borders. When immigration brings in people who are used to/approve of this kind of "corruption", how long before it becomes a way-of-life here in the US too?
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:09 am
palo alto mom-just to clarify: The "Child" was a 16 year old boy and my son's friend. He was the one who suggested we ask his parents to allow him to join us on a weekend camping trip to Big Sur. He told us that he seldom gets to go out of Palo Alto, and after years of living here he hardly knew the area. He was hoping that since it was the summer break and a weekend trip, he would be allowed to join us as his parents had no interest in camping. His mom was polite in turning down our offer, but said that she didn't want him to waste two days in which he could be studying.
Posted by carlito waysman, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:44 am
>Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Jordan Middle >School community, 49 minutes ago
Born-American: Chinese are law-abiding citizens. Let me know how many Chinese are in prison compared to other races and ethnicities. Let me know how many times we see a Chinese name in the media for the person breaking the law. I'm guessing we have the lowest rate of crime of all ethnicities in America. And don't get us confused with the Tongans, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Thais. Even those "thugs" stripping the float in the YouTube video are doing it non-violently.
To Mr. 3rd generation Chinese: Who are you trying to BS? Although , I strongly believe that some Chinese are law abiding, LOYAL to the US, also let's make no mistake in trying to ignore that the greatest threat to the US national security is CHINA. Just ask the FBI, CIA, and other American Intellegency Agencies. China is having a field day, stealing, ransacking, all American scientific,commercial trade secrets, military classified information, etc,etc. If you not believe it, then how do you explain now that China has all classified, technical information on every single nuclear weapon in the US arsenal? even the Dept., of Defense have no clue how did it happen. And it doesn't help when one of their own sits at the helm of the Department of Energy.
Too bad we can not steal anything technology related of value from China, because they have none that interest the US, maybe their money, hmmm that is a possibility.
Some will claim racism, when the issue of true loyalty comes to the forefront, but when our National Security is at stake, we need to stop beating around the bush and call it as we see it.
Honest hard work and being industrious is one thing, but when the culture of greed takes over, all decency and boundaries dissapear.
So your true LOYALTY is with..?
Two weekends ago CBS "60 minutes" run a special on this problem, and its huge negative implications for the USA. Just do a research on this issue and it will open your eyes to the real world.
Posted by Caucasian Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm
There is plenty of corrupt behavior in the world. I don't think this is a problem unique to any specific culture or race. It is a human condition...quite universal, in my observation.
I am bothered by the entries here that villainize others through hyperbole, anecdotal nit-picking, and innuendo. Palo Alto is rich in cultural diversity. That is a good thing. It presents us with interesting challenges, no doubt, but it also provides us with a wealth of talent, varied perspectives that contribute to the creative richness of our local culture.
Among my "Asian" friends, I see a FEW Tiger Moms (and Dads), but mostly I see parents who are doing their best, just like me to raise children who will be a credit to our society and our family. Their methods vary broadly, but they are generally very good people doing the best they can.
There are socially maladjusted people (and broad elements) in every culture. I hope we can acknowledge that and try to share what is best in all of our cultures--and also work together to eliminate social behaviors that make it hard to live together in a mutually considerate way. Racism, on either side, is not healthy for our community. I would like to respectfully request that future entries on this thread be more careful with your facts.
that should be most instructive. (Unfortunately, it's probably not on-line, so you'll have to do some digging to find a copy.)
China's history is long, and its problems are significant. All of us should probably spend a little time trying to do a little homework on China.
Youtube is a great place to start. There are hundreds of short videos that have been uploaded by visitors, and various commerce/tourism-related organizations that allow you to "walk the streets of China" without actually having to go there.
Posted by Marie, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm
The Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1800's was terribly unfair to the Chinese immigrants. It was repealed when the U.S. needed China as an ally during WWII. There was a "Gentleman's Agreement" to exclude Japanese students from the public schools in San Francisco. Chinatowns were created because the majority of Chinese citizens were not allowed to live any where else. There was also protection in these "towns" from a very hostile white world. Seems like the tide has turned. Palo Alto is becoming Cupertino. I would be very happy for this turn of events if the Chinese hadn't bought into the lies about other people of color namely blacks and Latinos.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm
Nora, I think when people are of that milieu, they feel fine to criticize it, especially when it's the majority groups that one belongs to in one's community. I don't know if I agree, but I've asked the same question & gotten that answer. People also use WASP as shorthand for white, not factoring in what the ASP stands for.
Posted by Passing By, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm
"It seems that most of these comments stem from a growing inferiority complex?"
Precisely. Readers are constantly reminded on these forums how superior Palo Alto feels itself to be intellectually from the rest of humanity, how special and diverse and accomplished the city's values and way of life are. (And one has to wonder about the pressure cooker school environments and the high suicide rate!?!) Honestly, I really don't feel any change when I cross into MV or LA or Atherton or RC, but EPA definitely--a ghetto of segregation. Others I feel would probably want a passport control station set up on all the streets coming into Palo Alto. I think it's all a stretch to make such a deal about a few zip codes on a few square miles of land. There are many people of such accomplished quality in the Bay Area, the State, the Country who are not obsessed with where the live, but rather how they live on there own terms and values where they do.
If anything, the Asians who flock to the city may be only mirroring and perpetuating an inferiority complex hinged on inadequacies that they believe only Palo Alto can develop in them and their children. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
My advice, look elsewhere and thrive. This town is crazy to the core. Again, the suicide rate last year proves it and is shameful. It's the community on a whole, both passive and active, that is to blame for it.
Posted by Deutschland Uber Alto, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2011 at 12:03 am
Agree totally. These anonymous commenters with their anti-Asian rants disguised as polite conversation are really disturbing. I would like to think it is funny but of course I feel so ashamed for what our neighbors of Asian descent must think. And the superiority is pretty ironic given that we live in the only town I have ever heard of that has to guard its railroad tracks.
Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm Chris Zaharias is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
@Passing By - my youngest son just had orientation today here in PA and 75-80% of his classmates are of Asian descent. I do think it's OK for Caucasians to note the dramatic increase in PA's Asian population; there's nothing wrong in doing so, any more than it's wrong to note that the sky turned purple or the ocean red - it is undeniably & historically dramatic, and this article being written just captures that.
@Deutschland Uber Alto - totally agree with you that any sense of superiority vis-a-vis the influxing Asian population is misplaced. Humans are humans, and PA is nothing if not a meritocracy.
For my part, I keep coming back to wanting to understand why PA is having such a massive influx of Asian-origin people. My opinion - PA once was what they're looking for, but no longer is.