What is the “Model Minority?” How Has it and Other Stereotypes Affected Asian-Americans?

AUTHOR: Amani Fluellen

When many think of the term “Model minority,” they think of Asian Americans mostly. According to Wikipedia.com, “a model minority is a minority group (whether based on ethnicity, race or religion) whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average. This success is typically measured relatively by income, education, low criminality and high family/marital stability.” Asians face many stereotypes due to this idea of them being a “Model Minority.” Some of these stereotypical views can include but are not limited to all Asians looking the same, all Asians being good in school, all Asians being successful, and the list goes on. These stereotypes can be true due to the fact that most Asians hold a strong belief of excelling in school, but these stereotypes can negatively affect them. Portraying Asian Americans as a model minority does reflect their race in a positive manner. They are seen as incredibly smart, hardworking and basically the typical “American dream” turned reality. This idea of them being a model minority isn’t always necessarily true. Yes, you may have Asians that succeed because they push themselves and don’t want to be seen as failures, but this idea of upward mobility is possible for anyone, says Nicholas Kristof, author of the article, “The Asian Advantage.” The term “Model Minority” does have its perks, but it does come with some negatives as well. As I stated before, not all Asian Americans are as successful as stereotypes play them out to be. This can be demonstrated in the PBS documentary, “America by the Numbers” because it showed Cambodian refugees and how this idea of an Asian advantage isn’t true. The participants interviewed explained how they are not like typical Asians because two of them had dropped out of high school and the other two struggled with financial problems and problems most people wouldn’t think Asians face. This idea of a model minority also negatively affects the Asian community because they are not able to get the assistance they need. People believe that all Asians look the same, so the United States’ census didn’t even have a category for different types of Asians to identify themselves with. Because of this, many Asian Americans were unable to get the assistance they needed, since there is this stereotypical view of them being smart and successful. There is also a “bamboo ceiling, ” which makes it almost impossible for Asians to actually be successful since they are “significantly underrepresented in almost all companies (Buck Gee).” Ultimately, these stereotypes have done more harm than good for the Asian community. They give people these false views of Asians and make it seem as though they are better than other minorities, when in turn they are still facing the same struggle and discrimination as the rest of us.

 

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