Some, like many Asian Pacific Islanders, have come to escape poverty.
Many from these countries remain in poverty in the United States.
Neither are Asians involved in running sports, save for Nintendo's ownership of the Seattle Mariners.
"There were several times I used to think I was being screwed, but I bit my lip and kept my mouth shut. I wanted to show them that I could be better than them, that I could be the best.
So I became the one who tried the most difficult dives." In the years since his Olympic achievements, Lee said he believes much has changed with regard to the perception of Asian Americans in athletics.
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Discussions about race and sport in America long have been mostly a black-and-white issue.
Yet ask average sports fans to name an Asian American athlete and most would struggle to rattle off but a handful of familiar names.
Truth is, there aren't many Asian Americans playing sports today, whether it is on the youth level or in the professional arena.
After Lee and other people of color used it, the pool was drained and there was fresh water for whites by Thursday morning.
"My father told me to never, ever use you color as an excuse," Lee told
Consequently, the desire to play sports to enter mainstream American life is not part of the fabric of most Asian communities. Still, Asian Americans face as many stereotypes on the field of play as they do off it. "It is common that coaches and teachers at schools presume that an Asian American kid belongs in the science lab, not on the football field," Whang said.
Whether coaches, players or fans, the common misconception is that Asian Americans are physically inferior to whites, African-Americans and Latinos. "This is why it is so important that Asian American athletes have to rise to the top and show the general public that Asian Americans can also achiece excellence in sports." Sammy Lee was among the first to embrace and excel in both academics and athletics.
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