Model minority

Published: 2021-06-23 05:30:04
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Category: Identity

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The “model minority,” as defined in Racial and Ethnic Relations, is the stereotypical view that certain Asian American, and occasionally other, groups are seen to be exemplary in socioeconomic and moral characteristics. This stereotype is most typically applied to Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, and other Asian American groups. These groups are often compared to other immigrants of color, and are increasingly deemed more socially acceptable than African Americans.
Actually, the term “model minority” was created during the race riots and demonstrations of the 1960s in the United States when African Americans were protesting for their freedoms. White scholars and media analysts intentionally created the idea of a “model minority” to suggest that African Americans were perfectly capable of achieving their American dream by working harder rather than protesting against discrimination.
What was initially started by white scholars as a means to discredit the need for social uproar by African Americans has turned into an umbrella stereotype of Asian Americans; one that is increasingly difficult for Asian Americans to distance themselves from. One obvious stereotype associated with the “model minority” is that Asian Americans are typically viewed as being extremely high-achieving in their education.
According the C. N. Le, a Ph. D. candidate at the University of Albany, over 42% of all Asian American adults have at least a college degree. Le also states that Asian American students typically have the highest test scores and GPAs compared to any other high school or college schoolmates. While hard work and dedication may run in the veins of most Asian Americans, what is lost on most people is that not all Asians are created equal. The “model minority” stereotype has many negative attachments.
The pressure put on Asian Americans to be extremely intelligent and excel in school can be overwhelming to those who are just unable to. There are high and low achievers in every race or ethnic group, so it is unfair to place this type of pressure on Asian Americans, even if a great majority of Asian Americans are high-achieving. Le points out that over half of Asian Americans are recent immigrants and a large proportion of them are not fluent in English.
While inherit values such as hard work and patience are part of the cultural upbringing of most Asian American families, not every Asian a person meets is going to be a math genius or a doctor. Another negative side effect of being labeled as a “model minority” is the general assumption that because a particular race or ethnic group is typically seen to be exemplary in terms of education and finance, that those belonging to this ethnic group are not in need of government assistance.
The 2006 Census estimates that Asian Americans as a whole typically earn a greater household income than Whites, African Americans, and Latinos (Kasinitz). What is not taken into account is the fact that most Asian households typically have larger families with more adults who are employed as compared to other race or ethnic groups (Kasinitz). While Japanese and Chinese Americans are usually found in the upper crust of education attainment and income, many other Asian groups, such as Cambodian, are found very close to the bottom.
The “model minority” stereotype has forced many people to focus only on those Asian American groups who are excelling, while those who are suffering and in need of assistance are cast aside. The “model minority” stereotype has many negative influences on Asian Americans. There are increasingly high expectations to younger generations to succeed in school and career choices. In the cases where members of the emerging generation fail to succeed, they are not only ridiculed by their high-expecting families, but also by a society which has come expect only great things from them.
Another pitfall coming from the “model minority” stereotype is the incorrect assumption that because Asian Americans are held to this high standard that there is no long any prejudice or discrimination against their ethnic group. In reality, discrimination against Asian Americans is still prevalent today. The “model minority” stereotype was created with the intent to make an example out of what society saw as an exemplary minority group; unfortunately, being placed on this pedestal has created even more obstacles for Asian Americans.

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