I’m Asian but I’m not Your Model Minority

June 26, 2018 / and

Nikolas Lopez, Youth Perspective

The Asian model minority myth is a very misleading title. It’s a plays on the stereotype that Asians are super smart, have a strong a work ethic and are good at math. This stereotype has very adverse consequences for Asian Americans and other people of color that this myth is used against.

For much of America’s history Asian Americans have been marginalized. From the Chinese exclusion Act to protest against Filipino Workers in our local community. Asian communities in America had a negative stigma tied to them until the New York Times published an Article called Success Story Japanese American Style. It praised Japanese Americans saying that they out performed even native born whites.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 virtually only allowed people with skilled labor to enter the United States. This created an influx of Asian Americans in high paying jobs which lead to the average wage to become distorted. The “success” of the Asian Americans was used to discredit white privilege and the struggles of other people of color.

The consequences of this stereotype of are still prevalent in today’s society. The idea that all Asians are super smart can lead to a feeling of inadequacy. According to the American Psychological Association published data saying that Asian American college students experience higher rates of suicide than white students.

Asia is huge continent with so many diverse countries and cultures and it doesn’t make sense to put everybody into one box. This stereotype ignores the diversity of both Asian cultures and the struggles people from these diverse cultures experience. For example, Hmong and Laotian communities experience more academic hardships than some other Asian groups. The American Community Survey found “college graduation rates among first-generation Laotian and Hmong are 13 and 15 percent, respectively, but in the second generation, they increase to 20 and 22 percent.” The struggles of these communities are ignored simply because other groups of the same of ethnicity are doing well for themselves, and often the data about Asian communities fails to differentiate by country of origin.

The Asian model minority myth is especially harmful when it comes to policies that are intended to help under-represented groups succeed. For example, Affirmative Action is intended to help underrepresented groups like Latinos and Black students bridge educational gaps, but it does not benefit marginalized Asian students like Hmongs and Laotians who also experience educational gaps because of the assumption that all Asians are the same and are super smart. This ignores the Asian groups that are struggling to reach the same success as rest of the Asian populations in America. The idea of Affirmative action is good as it has allowed so many people to into colleges they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get into. However, more colleges need to do what California colleges did and move towards a more holistic approach that factors in income, race, and minorities within already marginalized groups.

Asian Americans still lack representation in today’s society. There is a significant lack in media of proper Asian American roles instead many directors chose to perpetuate stereotypes such that asians are all smart, quiet and nerdy. There is also a lack in Asian Americans in board positions at fortune 500 companies. I believe that these companies should have a broad that represents the population and the media should work to fight negative stereotypes and show that Asian Americans are no different than rest of the population.

The asian model minority myth is often ignored but is a very serious issue that needs to be discussed.

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Nikolas Lopez

Nikolas Lopez, 16, is a sophomore at Liberty High School. Nikolas joined South Kern Sol in May 2018.