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The danger of stereotypes – Tale of the model immigrant, By Ngozi Bell


The Game – Part 2

She sat by her for several hours squirming wanting to get up and engage. Flashing fake smiles, yet without much of a glance showed complete disdain for the response to every question she asked. According to Renta, one could see the loathing on her face for her son’s opponent as he leads. She frowns intensely, hardly looking at her seat mate through the hours-long pseudo dialogue. It was more interview style of question and answer. Before the game started, Linchan had commented about how she preferred to chat with women, especially mothers, claiming some guaranteed mutual understanding. She feigned excitement as both women sat on the same bench before just as suddenly her smile evaporated, it was game on!

The game itself was a delight to watch, the boys were at their best or close to it. They worked for it, their demeanor calm and polite to each other, they counted scores in sync with one another. While it was indoors there was no heat, it was still very cold but the boys played and boy did they play? What was clear was that Renta’s son had come to defend his position and under normal circumstances could not be defeated by his challenger. What was clear was that both boys were students who gave the game their all. What was clear was that Linchan was unhinged and very dangerous to a child’s psychology because now that Renta was there, her son played very well;  prior to this, he had been made deeply uncomfortable by the heckling and the wicked comments of another mother against him all in the bid for a higher seat for her son. As they stood for a few seconds after changing sides for a new game, Linchan’s disdain seeming to pulsate at the calm demeanor of her son’s rival, infuriating her. At a point she appears to almost reach out to push him as she mutters angrily and gestures simultaneously for him to get back on the court. Just as firmly, Renta looks at her eyes blazing as if silently warning her not to touch her son. Linchan desperately wants her son to win but now she was scared because he was losing. 

The agreement was a match of best of 5 sets, where a consecutive 2-game lead within a set would hand the leader the win. As Renta’s son takes the set, a hard-won battle with an 8-6 score, no it was 9-7 her son called out either way it was a win, and that set was over. Then realising he had lost he said “oh I think it’s 7-all”, looking at his mom. It was a moment to watch as Rena’s son and the coach simultaneously remind him it was 8-6 and over. Linchan jumps up and argues “no, it’s 7-all, it’s 7-all”, her son echoing back, “it’s 8-6”. As they resume the next set, she sits back down, then jumps back up, leaving the bench she shared with Renta permanently as she fumed, no longer interested in the small talk or even offering any more pretentious smiles. It was surreal. As fate would have it, Renta’s son starts to lead the second set, she panics and tries to handle her son’s rival asking him to hurry up or something, Renta interjects asking her to stop and let the boys play as she was not on the court, she retreated and sat down for a minute. Within minutes of taking the lead 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 – Renta’s son was on a roll, but it was still tight, his leg suddenly gave way to a massive cramp or strain. The game was stopped for a short while to allow him to regain some strength. He downed a bottle of Gatorade to replenish lost electrolytes. Renta massaged his leg and got him better. He jumped back on the course and started playing, the set which quickly equalised at 4-4, and suddenly Renta’s son fell again this time as he tried to get up he could not, as his leg gave way. The coach said he was worried Renta’s son could seriously injure himself and called the game, a retirement for injury simultaneously giving the win to Linchan’s son. According to official rules if a player cannot continue due to an injury, the game goes to the opponent. It is a tough rule, but it is the rule.

Rules are rules and then some!

Talking about rules, Renta’s son had spent the upper of 17 hours on his feet, 12 of which were spent playing consecutive games all orchestrated by the coach. In professional settings, they have physio, they have massages and all types of assistants and many times there is a day between games. None of this was available, these were coach’s rules with the threat of “if you do not play, your place will default to your challenger”. In contrast Linchan’s son had not played a game in at least 4 days. It was a wicked situation. At least one thing was better, this game which was really part 2 was indoors. 

Linchan looked at Renta’s son as he hobbled and collapsed in pain and told him, “you are not as fit as my son that is why you hurt yourself, it shows he is better, it is not only winning it is also about being fit”. She never sympathised, never said sorry, never checked on him. Her next declaration was “the game is over; he is down for long and must forfeit. My son must be declared the winner, we will not play again, this game has to be called for my son.” Renta’s son was hurt and had to be her attention, so as the coach agreed with Linchan and called the game in her son’s favor, Renta shook her head as coach helped her son up to leave the venue and head home. The entire experience, surreal!

The Game – Part 1

Now to create the full picture, earlier that day they had played outside under very cold, and windy conditions. A situation that quickly deteriorated to icy rain and a wet court. Linchan’s son was leading. Seeing the condition worsen, Renta’s husband along with boys’ coach decided the condition was too dangerous and the game needed to stop. Linchan started screaming “no, we have to continue, we can pause and wait for the weather to clear but we must continue, my son is winning, and you cannot take that away from us”. Renta’s husband ignored her scream interjecting that his son will not play under those dangerous conditions, and he would not hang out waiting for a bad and potentially dangerous weather to pass, explaining that the courts would still be wet and slippery and instead, that he would go home, and they could plan to finish at another time. 

Rules may be equitable – those who mete out rules can screw them up 

As her son retreated to the car, Renta’s son remains to ask the coach if the rules for this challenge match would mirror those for a prior game, he had just played the day before. The coach said that this one would change considerably to best of 5 sets to determine who plays the desired position, a position that was currently held by Renta’s son and one in which he was currently undefeated. Yet, lest anyone think it unfair, it was okay to be challenged now and again by other team members who might feel they can challenge up to a more coveted position. What was unfair was that when Renta’s son had been the challenger the rules were changed on him after he had won. He was required to play again, where they equalized and then a final rematch right after an exhausting two days of standing and interviews, he lost and the boy he challenged retained his position. It was a bad choice of a day, but like I said when the coach puts the pressure, the students acquiesce.

Is advocating for yours on equivalence with abusing another’s?

Linchan overhearing the conversation of the coach and Renta’s son, gets unhinged accusing him of being a bully who wants to change the rule, and as a bigger boy who wants to intimidate her younger and smaller son who she claimed was a better player. She insults the boy’s father as an accomplice who wants to change the rules and stop the game because his son was losing. She goes to the boy and tells him the following “you ought to be happy that my son is agreeing to play 5 sets with you, that is a gift to you as he is better”. They eventually depart with the agreement that the first games would constitute part 1 and part 2 would be played the same day but indoors this time as the weather improves. 

The Middle Story –  Renta and Linchan rewind

So let us explore the middle story. Renta having heard about all that transpired in part 1 of the game, called Linchan to chat about adult decorum towards children and particularly, her son. Renta tells the story like this in her own words – The call was awkward, Linchan greeted me warmly at first and said how much she wanted to meet me and begged me to come to the second part of the game. I told her I would try but that I had some work to do that might make it impossible. I had hardly finished speaking when she flipped, screaming at me saying my husband and the coach had bullied her and intimidated her, were aggressive and were trying to scare her and she would not tolerate it. I told her that it was a very odd thing as my husband is incredibly polite and relatively quiet. I said to her that if he in any way came across as rude that I apologize on his behalf but in the same vein, I wanted her to know that she could not talk to my son like she did and try to intimidate him the way she did or say inappropriate and mean things to me. I said my son is a young boy and as an adult she should know better. She jumped on that and told me that my son was no young boy, that he was much older than her son and bigger than him. That she is a diminutive Asian woman with a very small son, and they (my husband, the coach and my son) were all trying to intimidate her and her son. So, I asked her what exactly they did to her. She said my husband interrupted her, the coach was “mansplaining” and as a person who works in corporate America, she was familiar with the tricks that men used to intimidate women. She said my son was much bigger and much older and she kept screaming about how she would protect her son against bullies and how unfair of them to have accused her of wanting to play in sleet and ice; when all she wanted was that they wait there till it passed to continue. As I listened to her, I realized she had to be nuts, a crazy lunatic, and a very dangerous woman at best. This is because it would be obvious to anyone who lives in our parts that even after the ice rain stopped, the court would be wet and slippery. Just as suddenly as she started screaming, she calmed down, telling me she was a mother who cared for her son, never once mentioning my son. She did say that since I was apologizing for my husband, she would apologize to him for her behavior because she was not usually like that but felt threatened. I listened and finished by telling her that my son was young and should never be subject to such assault by a mother. I said I would do my best to come to Part 2 of the game that evening once the coach found an indoor court and communicated a firm time to us – 

Just Thinking…….

As I listened to Renta tell this story, I could not help but hear many themes – racism (rife with the accusation that Renta’s son was so much bigger and older and the implication that her lanky very slim husband was this scary person, who was intimidating and threatening), the feminist advantage (the idea that the coach was mansplaining things, just because he was not repeating the things she wanted to hear and simultaneously give her what she believed she deserved that had been withheld from her son), classism (the idea that you could intimidate a young boy by accusing him of lying, because of the societal perception that if things got out of hand people would more likely perceive Asians as less aggressive)! This woman knew all the stereotypes, in my book, this is evil!

Meeting Linchan, seeing Renta.

When they finally met, the first thing you notice is that Linchan, was no diminutive Asian woman, she was Asian alright and though not tall, she was by no means tiny probably between 5.3 and 5.5 Her son was no small looking boy, he was again not tall, but not short either and had nice wholesome features that did not make him appear frail at all. Renta’s son was definitely taller and much thinner, a beautiful boy with a lovely demeanor, mature above his age. The thing that was ironic, was that both boys are the same age, 15 precisely, Renta’s son just happened to be two grades ahead of Linchan’s son. Linchan was overwhelmed to hear that Renta’s son was a high achiever by virtue of his age and grade.  Her boasting ratcheted she talked about how she and her husband met in Boston, she at MIT and he at Harvard and how they are both physicians. When Renta asks her where she practices, she tells some convoluted story about opting to consult for a pharmaceutical. She talked about how much she wanted to return to her hometowns, Boston, Cambridge and Princeton where everyone played the game so well and people were so smart, and life was so much better. She shared how smart her son was and how bored he was sometimes with school having made a 99 in a math course. Renta listened almost amused at what she was hearing because meanwhile, there are so many things her very smart son could be doing such as, fairs, competitions, global engagements, as Renta tried to educate her of opportunities, she realized that Linchan preferred to listen to herself and such conversation was simply futile – When asked why she let Linchan do most of the talking, Renta put it like this, all I could do was smile and shake my head because I realized, she was not worth it.

When Linchan asked Renta what kind of work she did, that required weekend hours, her tone condescending, Renta decided that perhaps this was the time to display just who she was and the accomplishments her family had, as she started to try to diplomatically name drop her family’s achievements. Just as quickly as she made a couple of declarations, she realized how silly and futile it was to do that. Did it really matter what this woman thought? Was there any friendship desired or sought? Was this a person, one really wanted to tell things? Where would boasting get you? This lady was clearly full of nonsense, there were children literally saving the world that were much younger than her son and here she was boasting about how smart he was because he got a 99 in math and wants to decide if he will do STEM or economics though his parents were physicians. Renta realized that she would sound just as silly as Linchan sounded to her, if she resorted to boasting. She stopped speaking as Linchan interrupted her thoughts to confess her lack of familiarity with STEM fields. It was all such ridiculous conversation to engage in. Also for the most part, Linchan was hardly listening whenever she was not talking, evidenced by the” boast bombs” she dropped, followed by a seemingly reciprocating question without even as much as a glance in Renta’s direction and as Renta attempted to respond would drop another one. Renta would speak almost inaudibly and Linchan would nod, even though it was obvious she had not heard her it was obvious that to her Renta’s words were inconsequential. Linchan created the imagery of a model Asian family who did all things right with a prolific dancer daughter and a very smart son who might buck the trend. To Renta, these claims were not significant per se, but from Linchan every word had the ring of a delusional person, an egomaniac that was completely unhinged. Renta got up, excused herself, and walked out of the court area to get warm, and to escape the charade of a conversation. After all, at this point her son was winning and looking good doing it, he had a handle on the match and while he was calm, you knew he was determined not to lose. According to Renta, you could see it in his focused, humble, and handsome face. 

Yet, minutes later, he would be injured, restored and back on the court only for about 30 minutes or so later, after playing on an injured ankle, his leg would give way as he collapses on himself unable to stand and keep playing!

Sometimes bad people get what they want and the rule is the rule, no matter how uneven

A terrible woman would get her wish, after creating a scene to take the game for her son, she hurried off with her son and left without as much as a kind word to Renta’s son. It was the weird culmination of a bizarre day and match that started at noon for about 3 hours, resumed at 5.30pm and concluded after 9pm! Renta’s son felt it was unfair and that given that this was a challenge, it should have been rescheduled to finish. The coach knew that Linchan would make a big stink and conceded that he would stick to official rules, if a player gets hurt and cannot continue within the three minutes allocated, that player forfeits the game – this meant that Linchan’s son would assume the elevated position that was Renta’s son’s just the day before! It was bizarre, surreal and wreaked of unfairness, but like they say sometimes, the rule is the rule, no matter how unevenly it is applied! 

The takeaway is that neutral rules are not unfair, it is people that can be unfair.

The next day is the big game, Linchan’s son ascends his new role, he looses the game breaking Renta’s son’s undefeated status for that position – what a deep shame!!

The stereotypical pathway of racism, classism, feminism based on assumptions

There is a stereotypical pathway of racism, classism, and feminism based on assumptions that have been carefully packaged and rife with evil consequences in American society. This is so even among those who should be at the fore front of not pushing back against it. It is the reason why; corporations can meet all their diversity and inclusion desires by exclusively hiring white women. In this particular case, this is also a story of woman, motherhood and the banditry that some have embraced it with.

Let us illuminate some of the dangers hidden in the conversations in this story

Stereo types like “a small Asian woman being subject to intimidation and abuse” have always been tools of racism and simultaneously a way to scare men. Black men may be described as big and frightening by women who are sometimes more massive than them. Yet the women would likely be believed especially if the alleged victim is white. Women, sometimes falsely accuse men of horrendous crimes and get away with it because of stereo types especially if the alleged perpetrator is black or brown. 

Another stereotype is the model immigrant status mostly attached to Asians and assuming them to be all brilliant and all accomplished, so some use this narrative to embellish their accomplishments and diminish others, many low achievers assume this posture. 

A so-called physician watches a young boy hurt and wishes him even worse, she never jumps in to help. It begs the question if she was ever a physician, did she fail out and had to work outside the hospital or is she just wicked – all these options are horrible.

Since when, did where you went to undergrad for four years become your hometown…well let’s not go there to each his / her own. It feels like an attempt to flex about academic and high achievement zip codes.

This sport which she said was one that her entire family had such deep expertise, yet when probed she did not play – it is a bid to intimidate to suggest they are country club and upper class types. Ironically if there was an imagery, she did not look the part at all.

Asking without listening is a classic gesture that says, I have assessed you and I am better so the only thing that makes sense is that I tell you who I am and flash fake smiles because that should be enough to show you that I am tolerant

We are both physicians who attended MIT and Harvard – implies we are at the top of our game and sit at the top of the food chain

Your son is much older and bigger plays into the dynamic that being taller, or even slightly bigger, no matter how that translates can be considered a tool of aggression or to count that person dangerous. It works exceptionally well when the accused is a black male. In the US a young black child of 6 years could be considered dangerous by white males 5X their age and 4X or more their size and idiots, many normal looking, buy into it

I wanted to send my son to this boarding school or this other expensive school – is another form of flex to communicate the many expensive options are open to them, it is meant to intimidate

Where are you spending your summer? You should visit Nantucket or this castle or MIT and other really cool places, you will love it –This is an attempt to show that clearly, our lifestyle is classy, broad, versatile and expensive

In this entire article there are so many dynamics:

  1. That a woman felt so entitled that a coach was unwilling to rebuke her about barging into a conversation between a coach and student
  2. The incredulousness of female privilege, race, class, lies and wickedness and how interwoven they are – it brings to mind Ruby Bridges who 62 years ago, at 6 years old, while being escorted to school by US marshals, many women, most presumably mothers gathered to throw things at her, heckle and abuse her, it was appalling. The women remained unfazed, as they videoed publicly shaming an innocent young girl
  3. The fact that not all women are good, nor all mothers caring and that being in healthcare does not make you compassionate in the least; again, are all sickening to imagine.
  4. That a mother can be so blinded by her perceived superiority that when her son was no longer winning, she was willing to destroy the work of another young boy. She was willing to chuck her son’s opponent’s hard work  and effort to cheating – this is a cheap shot bred by losers who have learnt to ride the coat tails of all the stereotypes that favor them. It’s like a president who based on verifiable evidence was a very poor student, boasting about his Ivy league education that was purchased with privilege.

America’s breeding ground

This is what America has bred, we talk about different communities of people and brand them with one thing or the other. Within those groupings, people have learned to exploit the parts that favor them. The model immigrant status tells a certain stereotype, but what we don’t talk about is that while this characterization may feel suffocating to the next generation of children who want out of the mold, it equally does as much harm to the people who engage the adults who wield them like weapons of mass destruction. For example, many Asians take their businesses into black neighborhoods, take the communities money in exchange for commerce that excludes them, refuses them jobs, supplies them with poor quality products and the added insult of treating them with disdain and suspicion. Even in the face of knowing that their businesses are completely unwelcome in many white neighborhoods.

Then there is the immigrant that is a vision of walking evil, only interested in the prosperity of hers/his alone. She does not care a lick for anyone else. She / he is boastful, because of the charade of smartness and the false cloak of exemplary bestowed on her/him. She/he covets things she/he does not deserve. 

I shake my head like Renta probably did, in utter disgust, thinking what a waste, what a shame what a   horrible woman

Is this feminism?

Well, this is cannot be feminism, at least this is not what it should be, this is not where it is supposed to go. It is not supposed to be an instrument of abuse of men and children, it is not supposed to be this opportunity to just get what you want by frightening everybody. 

It was supposed to be an instrument of fighting oppression, creating equality, and making things better. So, at the end of it all these things we are fighting for, no matter how hard we fight, no matter how well we fight, no matter who we are fighting; if the people in it are not right in their mindset, conscience, disposition and training; we would just be perpetrating the same vile thing we wish to remove. Except this time, we would have a replacement of the evil that we hate in a worse form, one that can assimilate in and out of society wreaking havoc like we have not seen. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we learn quickly that while “all animals are equal, yet some are more equal than others” – the pigs initially so disturbed by the oppression by humans, themselves became worse oppressors once  they gained the power

This is the unintended consequences of some of the feminist movements and others that is why we cannot and should not participate in any engagements that we cannot vouch for the members because without knowing it, we might be promoting the most evil and the most vile of society.

This is a true story – the learnings outlined are very informative

About Ngozi Bell

Inspiration, Hard Work, Innovation. These three foundational elements anchor Ngozi’s core belief that manifesting the extraordinary is always within reach. Inspired by her mother A.C.Obikwere, a scientist and author, she learned the privilege of living at the edge of important encounters and dedicating herself to robust and perpetual learning. Ngozi’s background is a combination of Physics, Engineering, Venture Capital/Private Equity, regulations, and business where she has managed over $1B in cumulative revenue. Ngozi is a speaker, storyteller, and writer on a diverse set of topics including AI, iDLT, ML, Signal Processing, iOT, women, entrepreneurship and more. She contributes regularly to VOA, has been a TEDx speaker and is published on tech and non-tech platforms. She is a champion of STEM, women, youth, art and the Africa we must engage. Ngozi is an adjunct professor of Physics and management with work

experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America. She is a founder of a number of a number of enterprises and host of the podcast Stem, Stocks and Stews (https://anchor.fm/stemstocksstews-podcast).

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