Race matters and it matters even more at higher income levels. Class does not protect the minorities from racism. Africans Americans are the largest racial minority, Hispanic and Latino Americans make up the largest ethnic minority. But what about the Asian Americans? We don’t hear much about them. Usually, class and income inequality statistics are false misconceptions, with research and media reports making up a narrative of Asian Americans succeeding economically and achieving the so-called American dream. Research states, “Asian Americans are the highest-income, best educated…” Although, the richest Asian Americans earn the most, the poorest Asians are still below the poorest whites. What is so crucial is the fact that the income gap only among the Asian Americans is the largest, when compared to all other racial groups. Most of the people from India, Malaysia and Bangladesh work within what we call the “informal economy”. They are working at restaurants, nail salons, parlors, street vendors and are either taxi drivers, truck drivers, etc. We don’t hear stories about these people working in the informal economy and being bullied or harassed by small business owners because of their race. We don’t hear stories about these groups being removed from their jobs or being rejected to do certain things because people think that if they are Asian and not privileged, they won’t fight back.
A year ago, during the month of November, I was with my cousin looking for houses to buy. We reached one specific house, my cousin knew that he wanted to buy that house regardless of the cost. He had visited the house multiple times but didn’t get a clear house tour. The people kept telling him to come back as they were certain they would give a house tour next time he comes. From even far away, you could see the sign with very huge letters saying, “HOME FOR SALE”. As we ringed the bell and waited for approximately 2 minutes a man with pale skin and blue eyes, without pausing to greet us or take us for a tour, blurted out “Sorry this house is not for sale anymore”. This was something out of the blue but me and my cousin thought, maybe he is right or someone already bought the house. However, my cousin decided to ask the man why the house is not for sale anymore. The first response was usual but as my cousin kept asking him questions, the final response was not what we expected. He had told us that he saw us from the window and the only reason why he doesn’t want to sell the house was because he reached a conclusion right away that my cousin is economically disadvantaged because he looks brown and brown people usually are poor. My cousin tried to tell him that it was not true and even told him about his income. Even though, it was not what the man considers to be high, he still had ways to pay the money. However, it did not matter to him how much money he made. He was only concerned that my cousin wouldn’t be able to pay the money if he bought the house. The man also yelled at us saying how we don’t belong here and that we shouldn’t be able to own houses or businesses. Also, he said how brown people are considered weak because they are underprivileged and don’t have the right to fight back or make their voices heard.
Overall, we were automatically put in the category of being underprivileged due to our skin color and custom. In order to appease our collective conscious, we put aside the disturbing fact that racism and class is alive and well in the great U.S.A. Race barriers still exist within those minority groups. Some of them are heard, some are not and others manipulated.