Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 27, 2020

“Model minority” myth shrouds discrimination

By ROLLIN HU | March 2, 2017


PUBLIC DOMAIN Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American man, was murdered in Michigan in 1982.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like for me to be a model. I can only imagine, because the market for Asian male models is rather small, and I’m not the best looking out of all of them. But fortunately enough, society has deemed me a model minority, and that’s the closest I’ll ever get to actually being a model.

I am industrious, believe in the value of hard work and contribute greatly to society, probably in STEM fields. I’ve overcome great barriers as an immigrant and never cause problems in society because I am polite, quiet and keep my head down.

I always look the same as all of my other fellow Asian Americans, even though we may come from vastly different parts of the enormous continent of Asia. There is no need to distinguish between us. Even though our eyes are small, our contributions and successes are big.

We are evidence that the “American Dream” can come true. We are the model minority. Why can’t the “lazy Mexicans” and the “drug-addled blacks” work hard and progress through this race-blind society like us?

When statistics show that those of us with Asian-sounding last names are less likely to be called for job interviews, we don’t complain. We get that we are perpetual foreigners. When white actors and actresses are cast in Asian roles, it’s typical. Our parents have taught us to be doctors, lawyers and engineers from the start. Also, the movies we would star in wouldn’t do so well in the box office, and that’s what matters in the end.

When we, Asian Americans, are beat to death by baseball bats or shot in bars in obvious hate crimes, we don’t march in the streets calling for accountability and justice. Who is Vincent Chin? Who is Srinivas Kuchibhotla? Such foreign hard-to-pronounce names. Do these lives matter?

And no one else has to stand for us either. We don’t need such a thing as “Asian-American allies.” What an absurd concept. We are a model minority, transcending above all the racial groups of America. Except for the white people of course. They are the ones who let us be the model minority.

And as model minorities, we have no place nor inclination to help other minorities. They didn’t work hard like us. It’s not like we faced rampant lynching over the course of our history in this country. It’s not like we faced comically discriminatory immigration bans. We have no sympathy for them.

We don’t have to stand for other oppressed groups, because they are clearly undeserving. And others shouldn’t have to stand for us because we have no grievances with anything and are just a totally perfect model minority. We are all part of this totally perfect post-racial society.

Last week, there was a piece in The News-Letter about experiencing microaggressions as an Asian American. There was also a piece about the legacy of Japanese internment camps.

Last week, two Indian Americans were shot at a bar in Kansas because the shooter wanted them to “get out of [his] country.”

Microaggression has become outright aggression. A history of racial profiling and marginalization has culminated in the deaths of the innocent. The myth of being a model minority has not and will not protect us. The only defense we have is to raise our voices, not only for our own tragedies but for the tragedies facing others too. And hope others do the same for us.

Rollin Hu is a sophomore history and economics double major from Massachusetts. He is a News & Features Editor.

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