Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Wesley So's American Dream

Chess star Wesley So, born in the Philippines, became an American citizen this year. He represented the Philippines in international tournaments for years, and he became increasingly frustrated with the way he was treated. So now he represents the US. In the US, he said:

You are not held back by your color, lack of connections or the amount of money you have. If you work hard, you have a better chance of making it here than anywhere else in the world. I came here ready to work hard, and it turned out just as I dreamed.

I think it is worth pointing out that despite our ongoing struggles with inequality and race, many immigrants feel this way. Some immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean feel that whatever barriers they face as black Americans are much more manageable than those they faced in the black majority countries where they grew up. The Times published a lot of material about Korean immigrants in the aftermath of the Georgia shootings, and many of the immigrants seemed to be saying that while racism is a fact of life here –some of them mocked their born-in-America children for thinking it wouldn't be– things are still a lot better than in Korea.

Incidentally when Wesley So became a Super Grand Master he was the youngest person ever to do so, breaking the record set by current world champion Magnus Carlsen. But that record has been broken three more times in the past 15 years. This is probably because 7-year-old chess prodigies can now train against superhuman opponents on their computers, or against each other online, so they can get a lot more high-level experience than they could in the days when they had to find human opponents.

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