Amy Chua — author of the controversial parenting memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which gained notoriety recently when an excerpt from it, about the superiority of strict Chinese mothers, appeared in the Wall Street Journal — would agree that assimilation into the American system doesn’t make much sense. In many ways, her experience as Tiger Mother represents both the disease of and cure for modern parenting.
Many have inferred from her much discussed new memoir that disproportionate Asian academic success can be attributed to a regimen of no sleepovers, no playdates, no quitting, no coddling, no praising mediocrity and lots of drills. The ancient Chinese secret is, in short, demand perfection and accept nothing less. Children are not so fragile that they will break under these expectations.
This is the same immigrant work ethic that catapulted my parents from poverty in Guyana to the country-club class of North America. Ditto for my husband’s parents in Jamaica, and Allison’s husband’s parents in the Caribbean. Ditto, it should be said, for Allison’s grandparents, who, as Isabel Wilkerson’s brilliant book on the Great Migration showed, had their own immigrant experience moving from the South to Northern cities, where their achievements in culture and society forever changed America.
But Chua is also part of the disease, because she has essentially written a manual for how to create superior sheep. But I still share many of her philosophies on the sturdiness of children, and in general have enormous respect for her. There she is, a Yale Law School professor, married to a white professor at the same school — technocratic royalty in the land where privilege was invented — and yet she has not allowed that success to be a reason to lose her identity, melting away into the American pot.
–Natalie Hopkinson, How to Raise a Model Minority
By Arturo R. García
Like any good journalistic outlet, NPR prides itself on thorough coverage and accuracy. Which makes the errors in its’ 40th-anniversary retrospective, This Is NPR, stand out even more.
(Note: As mentioned in the past, Racialicious Editrix Latoya Peterson is a consultant for NPR, and has contributed a piece to one of their blogs.)
First, as St. Petersburg Times columnist Eric Deggans reported Friday, there’s no mention in the book at all of All Things Considered host Michele Norris, the first black woman to earn a regular hosting slot on the network. From the story:
Norris was asked to contribute a chapter, along with other staffers or people who appear regularly on NPR for the book, which weaves the stories into a chronological history. Other contributors include Cokie Roberts, Nina Totenberg, P. J. O’Rourke and Paula Poundstone. But because she was writing her own book, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, Norris couldn’t contribute an essay and was not included anywhere else, said NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm.
It was an inexcusable mistake,” Rehm added. “She should have been in the book.”
Deggans also notes the book’s omission of the recently-released Juan Williams, who had been a news analyst with the network for more than a decade before his firing last month; and of the African-American Public Radio Consortium, the group that helped NPR develop The Tavis Smiley Show, which first aired on the network before Smiley and NPR parted ways in 2004. Smiley doesn’t have an essay in the book, either, though he is referenced three times.
The only POC mentioned in the book who contributes an essay is Tell Me More host Michel Martin, who writes about covering the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. Oddly enough, though, the picture running alongside the story is of reporter Audie Cornish, who isn’t mentioned at all otherwise.