EFFECTS OF THE MODEL MINORITY MYTH

KRISSY KOH


 

Last semester, I was talking with a friend about some important upcoming tests. I was pretty nervous because I knew I had to do well in order to maintain the grade I had. Trying to comfort me, she had then said, “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine--you’re Asian.” 

Coming into high school, I thought I would hear less of these stereotypical comments. As a Korean American, it seemed impossible to escape these stereotypes since 6th grade, and after this moment, I realized comments like this would almost always linger in the halls. Based on common remarks like these, it proved that people had this one fixed image of Asian Americans, and it illustrated a nerdy, antisocial geek. 

NBC news reports that “For many young [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders], the model minority myth means always rising to meet an academic bar that seems to perpetually move upward — or being afraid to ask for help in school because the model minority label suggests you don’t need it.” 

This can be harmful because it creates expectations and stereotypes for Asian Americans to conform to society’s beliefs in order to be seen as “true” Asians.

However, simply being a certain race should never dictate our work ethic or tell us what our grades should look like. Even though being hard working and paying attention towards academics may be part of Asian morals, this should never create an expectation for every single person of the Asian race to get straight A’s on their report cards. 

Jeanny Kim, an acting director of the Asian American Center tells NBC News that “ [The model minority myth’s] longstanding use is not only homogenizing but also harmful to Asian Pacific Americans whose experiences are not reflected in the stereotype.” 

Personally, I set high expectations for myself and work hard to academically perform well to reach my life goals. My motivation comes from myself and not from anywhere else like the stereotypical overly strict parents. But because of constant “jokes” made about what Asians are like, these comments have created a still image for every Asian American which turns into a concrete mindset about this race. 

Aside from generalizing Asian Americans, the model minority myth also takes away from the freedom to explore other interests beyond academics, which stereotypes suggest are our only focus. When we express our passion in different areas, we are faced with judgement like we aren’t accepted on their court. 

Through conversation and awareness, we should be mindful about whether what we are saying is valid and how it could impact others. By speaking up and acknowledging the issues that are laid in front of us, it creates a more embracing environment for everybody. Kim additionally reports to NBC saying “... we have a responsibility to reframe the public discourse toward a more inclusive understanding of Asian Pacific America.”

 

As a community, racial diversity should be celebrated and every race should have the liberty to define the significance of their race and ethnicity for themselves in a free environment. 

KRISSY KOH is 15 years old and loves to write in a variety of genres like poetry and critical essays. Aside from writing, she always enjoys playing basketball with her friends and brother or any other physical activity. 

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