Don’t let Asian stereotypes fool you


Joel C. Bautista | The Ticker

Kari Brabander

The model minority stereotype diminishes the lived experience of Asian Americans. It works to discount racism and anti-Asian sentiment by making Asian Americans, and the problems they face, practically invisible.

The idea that “white is best” perpetuates the existence of the model minority myth. By internalizing the persona of being high-achieving and socially invisible, Asian Americans lose their own culture trying to fit into the white ideal. Middle-class, white culture should not be the standard by which people of color are measured.

Yet, because they have learned to mimic this culture well, Asian Americans have been called the model minority, much to their own detriment.

“The model minority myth omits a lot of APIDA groups. It assumes that things like lack of access to education, financial insecurity, home insecurity, and inadequate access to health care are not ‘Asian American’ problems,” according to a student narrative in an online exhibition at the University of Southern California’s Pacific Asian Museum. “The model minority myth asserts that success is a choice when more often than not, it isn’t.”

The present persona of Asian Americans is the result of years of anti-Asian political behavior including the Chinese Exclusion Act and World War II Japanese internment, or more accurately referred to as imprisonment, according to Jacobin, a socialist political club.

The legacy of the trauma from these events led to Asian Americans trying to get by as quietly and easily as possible.

Furthermore, the aspects of the model minority myth that Asian Americans are praised by white people for having academic and monetary success are rooted in capitalism, according to the USC’s Pacific Asia Museum’s online exhibition.

Racial stereotypes like this are a reflection of the American dream – a survival of the fittest game where white people will always come out as the winners. When white Americans place this stereotype on Asian Americans it allows them to diminish the past while simultaneously working to prove that hard work and buying into capitalism can make anyone successful.

Because Asian Americans have been cast as the model minority, many of the community’s financial struggles are hidden. The stereotype that Asian Americans are winners in American white capitalism masks the economic realities of many families.

Struggling families then do not receive the support that they need because of the political invisibility that Asian Americans face. The model minority creates a narrative that Asian Americans are self-sufficient and do well enough in society that they do not need help.

However, according to NBC, many Asian Americans are of lower socioeconomic status and are more likely to work in low-wage industries. This also makes them susceptible to violence and hate crimes.

Simply creating policies that will help protect Asian Americans, and all people of color, from racist and hateful behaviors is not enough. It still forces people of color to take part in a system that is fundamentally exploitative.

Until the system and values of white capitalism are broken down, people of color will still be expected to live up to these standards. There is no reason to continue living the way white people want people of color to live — it only maintains the present racial and economic status quo.