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Pet Sins December 2000

Jealousy towards financially stable Asians

I read the article on how the working-class white woman expressed envy for 'surburban' Asian families who actually lead a life of greater material hardship and financial self-discipline than white working class people.

The story reminded me about an experience with one of my 'friends', who was African American. Most times she was nice, but sometimes, she wasn't quite herself (or perhaps she was showing her real self) and got into an 'Asian-stereotyping mode' where she would say the typical stuff about how I, an Asian, don't know how lucky I am to have a decent paying job and be debt-free.

The funny thing is, she is paid more than me. Why is she in debt? It is not because she is in a lower income bracket, which she is not. It is because of her own spending habits. I'm not debt free because I am "lucky". I am debt free because I put a priority on paying off my loans even if it meant sacrificing my own little luxuries.

This 'friend' owes her relatives and friends hundreds of dollars. And yet she spends her paycheck on unnecessary things like scented candles, video tapes, and books. Shouldn't her first priority be paying others back instead of buying non-essentials for herself? Her sense of responsibility towards other people's money, and her financial priorities do not impress me. I see no sense of honor, no attempt at self-discipline in her conduct. Tell me whose fault it is that she is in debt and I am out of debt? How could anyone, even herself, respect the complaint of such a person against those who better manage their finances?

I resent it especially when non-Asian Americans look at the Asians among them with jealousy and associate their 'Asianness' with financial success. Don't they know that Asians, on the average, still make less money than whites? There are some Asian populations that have a higher poverty rate than the black population. Recent immigrants may be financially better off either due to habits of frugality built in their home country, or accumulated wealth that enabled them to migrate. But Asian Americans who have been in the US for generations show no significant difference in economic status and consumerism than the rest of America. Yet I still hear claims that the Asians form an economic "elite".

When are people going to stop blaming those who are unrelated to their problems and start taking responsibility for their own financial well-being? And look at making the most of the resources YOU have instead of envying others for the resources you THINK they have. That 'friend' made more money than me and yet talked as if I was a "rich" Asian and she a "poor" black.

2002