By definition, a model minority is a demographic group that can be grouped either according to race, religion or ethnicity and whose members are often found to achieve better socioeconomic status as compared to the average population. Usually, success is measured by education, high family stability, low criminality, and income. This paper, therefore, seeks to elucidate how the concept of model minority has affected Asian Americans in recent years.
The notion of the model minority has sparked several controversies all over the world as it has been used on several occasions to suggest that there is no reason for the government to push for the adjustment of the socioeconomic disparities existing between different groups. As such, this type of debate has often been used to differentiate Asians-Americans including the south and the east from Hispanic Americans and African Americans (Bristor Lee & Hunt, 1995)
This has resulted in a generally perceived notion that Asian-Americans are much better, productive citizens who are law-abiding, while categorizing African - Americans and Hispanics as welfare recipients and criminally prone people (Bristor Lee & Hunt, 1995).
Asian Americans often referred to as 'studious Asian American' who is always successful academically, especially in subjects such as science and maths, has been incorporated in the ethos of the education system in America. As far as characterization and classification go, Asians are said to perform better because they form part of the naturally high achievers who are always highly successful and highly educated, a classic example of what other minorities would wish for.
Despite the recent data released on income and education regarding the diverse Asian Americans attempting to discredit this myth, several experts and researchers have maintained that the stereotype still exists.
Consequently, for many Asian Americans, this means that they always have to put in more effort to meet the bar that seems to continue rising. This means that even the children that are not 'educationally gifted' will have to struggle to meet the bar (Kawai, 2005).
Additionally, fear of asking for assistance in class is yet another major issue affecting Asian Americans. Here, the students become fearful while asking for help because the model minority label indicates that they do not need it.
As explained by Kawai, (2005), it is not common for the model minority to cause anxiety or restlessness in most of the second generation children. He also noted Shanni Liang's comments, who was a mental health hotline counselor in New York, saying that they receive many callers who have their very first mental breakdown while in college
The term model minority was first used in the 1960s, to refer to the people of Japanese and Chinese origin. The two groups formed the biggest ethnic groups in the United States during that time. The whole idea was not to simply brand all Asian Americans as highly skilled or highly successful, or of high income, but to compare and contrast Asian Americans to African Americans and brand the latter as the better.
As of the '60s many protests broke out especially those originating from the African Americans/ who complained and demanded change. This led to a huge disparity between blacks and Asian Americans, eventually branding Asian Americans as the most successful (Kawai, 2005).
Bristor, J. M., Lee, R. G., & Hunt, M. R. (1995). Race and ideology: African-American images in television advertising. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 14(1), 48-59.
Kawai, Y. (2005). Stereotyping Asian Americans: The dialectic of the model minority and the yellow peril. The Howard Journal of Communications, 16(2), 109-130.
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