I love editorial illustrations. I love the intense thought process, its relevance to our times, and the humanistic quality of the visuals that lends itself so well to interesting thoughts and ideas. Here’s one I have been working on about the Princeton mom would urged young women at Princeton to get married before leaving college:
Gold and Bronze Acrylic on Black Canvas
In case you haven’t been following the media, a Princeton alumna and mom wrote a letter telling women that the, “cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.” This sparked a feminist knee-jerk reaction, but I questioned it because– well, I felt it was more interesting than that. It not only reduces the aim of higher education to a commodity and women to a prize, but it touched upon an elitist sentiment that no one ever wants to talk about. Now, personally, I consider this woman to be the Princeton equivalent of the sorority girl of the sorority girl rant, but there’s definitely an ounce of bitter truth worth thinking about.
Anyway, to sum up the media shit storm about the Princeton mom: some blasted her for bringing us back to the dark ages, others commended her for telling the truth. Others, like Ross Douthat, pointed out that she was simply a “traitor to her class.”
This resonated with me the most. After working at an “elite” place like Google, I saw first-hand how those fortunate enough to attend Ivy League schools had an implicit knowledge of their social standings. That’s not to say that they didn’t deserve it–they worked hard. Most of the people I’ve met were truly talented, highly intelligent and self-aware people, but it was really the first time I felt like all the talk I’ve heard about “legacy” and “the elite class” I studied in college had a lot of truth to it.
It also got me thinking that, as uncouth and unpopular as it may be, maybe the Asian parent’s mentality of pushing their kids to the top schools was on to something. Maybe they actually recognized it as the lever to gain access to a higher class. I’ve heard this before, “go to Harvard so you can be rich” but I thought: This is America, those rules don’t apply. I thought about how, growing up in an immigrant family where English was not the first language, we didn’t use SAT words like “latent” or “acumen,” in everyday vernacular, and how, we really had no “in” (no aunts, uncles, parent’s friends) to help us understand how our educational system worked. That’s not to say that only minorities had the shorter end of the stick, but that’s just the only experience I have.
That said, it made me understand how difficult it is to transcend classes as an “outsider.” It made me appreciate the minority groups out there that helped empower others in the same situation, and I grew a greater respect for those who are able to succeed, look back, and offer their wisdom. It took me a while to find those who quietly worked in the background so I can have the opportunities I have, and I hope to do the same.
I guess that’s why I’ve been so appreciative of the work that the Asian American Women’s Artist Association (AAWAA) and Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC) do, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the show opening next Thursday, May 2nd. Apologies for the shameless plug, but the 3:00am stream of consciousness somehow brought me here. Thanks for listening. Oh, and come to the show. 🙂