The Model Minority Myth

by Michael Chem


Fall 2019

File type


The model minority myth.
Aka the greatest myth ever created to divide people of color in America
It feeds into the oppression olympics by telling our fellow minorities that Asians can do well in America…

So why can’t you?

Forget about all the subconscious biases that still exist in society
Forget about all the institutionalized racism in corporate America
Forget about having to come from
Broken homes,
broken schools,
And broken dreams

None of that matter


All you have to do is work hard in order to be successful

Ignore all the negative stereotypes and policies created to oppress our communities
Ignore the fact that mainstream media propaganda portrays anyone with brown skin as foreigners or thugs
Ignore the fact that some of us can barely afford a meal, let alone a tutor

Asians can do it,
So why can’t you?

Asian-Americans have the highest median income of any racial group, including whites
They also graduate from high school and college at a higher rate than other racial groups
But when we disaggregate the data,
We see a completely different story.

What they don’t tell you
is that Asian-Americans also have the highest income gap of any racial group

They hyperselect the highest achieving Indians, Taiwanese, and Filipino while the refugee immigrants from Southeast Asia have a much harder fight.
Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, and Vietnamese have a lower median income than most ethnicities and are graduating at a lower rate

Are they still a part of the “model minority” that mainstream media wants everyone to strive for?
Are their stories of struggle and perseverance to immigrate to America just going to be ignored because they fall under the Asian-American umbrella?
How can you possibly group everyone in the largest continent on Earth into one category?
17 million square miles, 4.5 BILLION people, and there are hundreds of different cultures, traditions, and languages
Although the Southeast Asian communities aren’t currently as successful as the model minority stereotype makes them out to be
I believe that Southeast Asians have the potential to achieve as much success, if not more, than their peers
But the model minority myth greatly inhibits their abilities

It causes teachers to subconsciously expect more from them and expect them to do well in courses such as math and science
If they don’t do well, they are labelled as lazy and unwilling to work hard
When in reality, they could be working just as hard, or even harder than their peers
This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later
The constant pressure of having to achieve good grades and the constantly rising bar that you have to strive for?
It’s no surprise that Asian-American youth that don’t live up to the expectations that stem from the myth develop mental health issues
It becomes worse due to the stigma surrounding mental health in the Asian communities

If you tell your parents you’re stressed, they tell you…
“You don’t even know what stress is! I raised you and do everything for you!”
If you tell them you have trouble getting out of bed because you have depression, they tell you...
“Get over it and go out! Quit being lazy and do something!”
If you tell them you have an eating disorder, they tell you...
“Stop being stupid and just eat! Don’t waste your food, there are other kids in the world who aren’t as lucky as you!”

Ignore the fact that our parents and ancestors lived through a war and were in life or death situations, seeing family, friends, and strangers die right in front of them
Ignore the fact that they came from a third-world country and were forced to assimilate and lose most of our culture in order to survive in America

There’s no way any of them have any mental illnesses
Mental illness is a lie and it’s all in your head
Just get over it and live you life

It’s not like suicide was the leading cause of death in 2017 among Asian-Americans, age 15-24
None of this matters in our culture

Mental illness is a sin and if you think you have a mental illness, you better grow up and get over yourself

These stigmas need to end in order for our communities to grow and prosper together
It is our responsibility to help the next generation
We must dispell this myth and any other stereotypes in our communities
We must see people as individuals rather than putting them in groups based on race
We must come together as a community and change the culture
We cannot make the same mistakes as past generations

I can see a future filled with:
Understanding rather than judging
Unity rather than division
And Love rather than hate

So why can’t you?