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Asian stereotype memes continue to rise to the top of Reddit’s homepage

Why is it that Asian stereotypes persist particularly on Reddit?


David Holmes


Posted on Mar 7, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 8:24 pm CDT

A few weeks back, we reported on the troubling rise of Asian memes on the Internet, and asked why Web communities are often more tolerant of stereotypes directed at Asians than other ethnic groups. Today, another Asian-themed post has topped Reddit’s front-page titled, “Sleeping at work level: Asian.”

The photo shows a young Asian male sleeping at a university library with his student ID tucked behind his ear to prove his enrollment (the library is student/staff/faculty-only after hours). The name of the post is a variation on the “Difficulty: Asian” meme, which plays on the stereotype that Asians possess an advantage when it comes to accomplishing challenging feats.

This has ignited yet another discussion on the prevalence of Asian racism on Reddit and the notion of so-called “positive” stereotyping.

A user named a-le addressed the issue head-on by writing, “i’m pretty sure it that was a black guy in the picture and you put ‘sleeping at work level: black,’ you’d be downvoted to oblivion. but since it’s an asian dude, racism is a-okay.”

Elsewhere, a user who goes by Flowah took the matter personally: “Yeah brah. Thanks for treating me as a perpetual foreigner, despite my being born here and living here my whole life. I really appreciate it, fucker.”

But perhaps theculchee put it best when he suggested the following as an alternate title for the thread:

“Casual racism level: Reddit”

Regardless of whatever you feel about memes like this, the post’s comment thread reveals that Reddit’s complex racial politics are far from resolved.

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*First Published: Mar 7, 2012, 7:00 pm CST