The Model Minority Myth

Sunday, July 12

By Yosan Zerai

The myth of the model minority is based in stereotypes of the Asian/Asian-American demographic. The model minority myth states that Asian Americans are the ideal minority in the American society. It perpetuates the idea that Asian American children are automatic geniuses or musical prodigies. The label Tiger Moms refers to Asian mothers who heavily push their children to achieve utterly high expectations and becoming superior to their peers, along with the stereotypical nerdy,strict fathers who hold prestigious positions in companies or in STEM. This myth characterizes Asian Americans as minorities who have accomplished high levels of success using a mixture of inherited talents and overcoming the ideology of white privilege in America by being self-sufficient. 

The model minority myth began around the 1965 Immigration Nationality Act when the U.S. recruited highly skilled and educated immigrants from Asia. This limited the Asian/Asian American population in the U.S. to these accomplished and educated citizens which aided in creating this stereotype. This stereotype was created to prevent white America from taking responsibility of the racially disciminatory past of Black Americans and slavery. Basically, the model minority myth was used against African Americans and Black people to claim that if one minority can do it, then the other can too. Not only does this excuse and ignore the years of oppresion and institutionalized racism faced by Black people in the U.S., it also degrades the struggle of Asian Americans who worked rigorously to achieve their status here. Additionally, this creates a racial divide between Asian Americans and Black Americans which often prevents racial allyship. 

Furthermore, this stereotype perpetuates the erasure of Asian oppresssion. Asian covert and overt racism is extremely normalized in society that it often goes unnoticed and is unrecognizable by others. These include statements such as "you're Asian, so you're supposed to be smart" or referring to an young Indian boy as "Baljeet."And due to recent events of the Covid-19, Asians have been publically abused and humiliated by others blaming them for the virus highlighting the excused overt racism in communities. Then, there is the ignorance of Asians in worldy topics such as immigration and economical issues. According to Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Research Consortium(AAPIPRC) data, Asians are the fastest growing group of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., however they are often excluded from the conversation on topics of immigration. Also, Asian Americans are also the most economically divided group revealing a tremendous gap between highly successful and impoverished Asian Americans. These points only go to show how the model minority myth only detriments the Asian American population, as many of the struggles are ignored and unnoticed due to the ideaology that all Asians are smart and successful. So, in our conversations of racial oppression in the U.S., Asian Americans must be included along with other minorities to progressively move forward to a non-racially divided future. 

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