Originally posted by JS357
I believe a sociology-oriented historian would point out that until recently, great American chess players are/were almost exclusively of European descent (broadly defined), and I speculate that most if not all of them were/are one or two or perhaps three generations away from European immigrant ancestors. I have no data on the recency of arrival of these Asia ...[text shortened]... e his paternal genealogy is questioned, he is undoubtedly of European (broadly defined) lineage.
Given that most Americans insist on framing all discussions of 'racism' in terms of a narrow
white/black binary, I expect them to have no comprehension of most of what I write.
First of all, most Americans are of European ancestry, so it seems natural that most
American chess players and most of the top American chess players should be of
European ancestry. Indeed, until recently about all of the top American chess players
were of European ancestry. Gata Kamsky, a Soviet immigrant, was born in Asia and is
of Tatar heritage, but most Americans seem to perceive him as white rather than Asian.
There would be no news story if most of the top American junior players were white.
That's expected. There's a news story here only because of what's *unexpected*.
For a long time, a disproportionately high number of the top American players were of
Jewish heritage. And I can recall many discussions (one can find some on the internet
even today) of 'Why are Jews superior at chess". There was an old saying that the
best players were Russian Jews, followed by non-Jewish Russians or non-Russian Jews.
If I had pointed to the disproportionately high number of Jewish players in an earlier
US championship tournament, no white American here would dare accuse me of 'racism'.
And there was a strong subculture of racist stereotypes against non-white players in chess.
I can recall someone telling me that, while China and India have large populations, he
was certain that China and India never--not in a thousand years--could come close to
contending for medals in the Olympiads. (This kind of racism seemed directed more at
the Chinese--the 'Yellow Peril'--than the Indians.) At the 2014 Olympiad China won the
gold medal and India won the bronze medal. Even today I hear some people saying
things to the effect that while Wei Yi (age 16, rated FIDE 2700+) may be 'good for a
Chinese', he never will be able to come close to being world champion because, after
all, he's Chinese and inevitably inferior in important ways to the best Western players.
I know that's what many racists desperately want to believe.
I am making a comparison between the recent success of players of Asian heritage in
American chess and the continuing success of students of Asian heritage in American
academics, particularly in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology.
I know that these facts seem extremely politically embarrassing to most Americans, who
seem to prefer to ignore or deny them, while holding other narrow stereotypes about Asians.
*If* it were true that six of the ten players at the 2015 US junior championship were black
Americans rather than ethnic Chinese, then I expect this would be a national news story,
with American journalists competing with one another to praise the black players as
highly as possible. Some politicians, both white and black, would be expected to cite
American junior chess as a wonderful example of 'racial progress' in the United States.
Whether or not these black players had encountered any racism individually, the dominant
media narrative would be of 'brilliant black people bravely overcoming a history of racism
to excel in something traditionally dominated by white people.' President Obama might
invite these (hypothetical) acclaimed young black chess champions to the White House.
But, in fact, the *wrong* (politically speaking) demographic group seems to be excelling
in this event. And therefore the dominant media narrative is completely different.
Americans usually *pretend not* to notice race/ethnicity (let's just act like all the
exceptional Asians are whites!) *only when* it's politically embarrassing for them to notice
race/ethnicity. Ideally in terms of American racial politics, the successes of Americans
of Asian heritage should be practically *invisible*. Most Americans of Asian heritage who
have exceptional achievements already seem to know that their achievements will receive
minimal attention in the mainstream media unless it's politically expedient for other reasons.
In fact, 60% of the players in the 2015 US junior chess championship apparently come
from the tiny Chinese minority (less than 1% of the US population). I would regard that
as something unexpected, which could provoke examination and call for an explanation.
(The Chinese minority has been afflicted by brutal racism, of which few Americans seem aware.)
But, oh no, there's no curiosity whatsoever from the mainstream US media, which presumably
would like to bury the story. If 60% of the players were Jewish, the US media would exclaim,
'This just shows again how brilliant the Jews are!' If 60% of the players were black, the
US media would exclaim, 'This just shows how gifted black people can bravely overcome racism!'
But in this case I doubt there will be any mainstream US media recognition of these players'
achievements. And excelling in chess is far from being a Chinese cultural tradition.