The “Model Minority” Trap
To be a “model minority” in the eyes of a white-dominated society is to be a minority demographic with substantial socioeconomic standing that can serve as a reference to other minority groups. In theory, this should be a compliment. Take, for instance, Asian Americans. Asian Americans are by far the vast “model minority” in America. They started generations ago as immigrants and worked to become the most wealthy group in America. They are, in essence, the American dream come true.
The issue rises when White America points to the Black American community and asks, “Why can’t you do that?”
Asian Americans have been used to not only justify why racism doesn’t exist but also to discount Black Americans’ attempts, and the conflicts of other minority groups in America as well. However, it is crucial to note that the struggles faced by Asian Americans and Black Americans are very different while still completely valid and often induced by racist tendencies. There is no way to justly compare the different standings while simultaneously taking historical factors into account.
The effects of the Model Minority Myth are not only detrimental to Black Americans–it is taking a toll on Asian Americans as well. It perpetuates the normalized racism towards Asians and trivializes the discomfort experienced. Phrases such as “Take a joke” and “It’s not that serious” are now used to brush Asians aside should they speak up against racism. For instance, the “Fox Eye Trend,” which involves pulling the skin by the temples to elongate the eyes, has been labeled as insensitive, offensive, and racist by many Asian Americans, yet it continues to take the makeup world by storm.
Being the “model minority” has never and will never be a compliment to the Asian American community. It is a concept that encourages divisions between minority groups and fosters a society built on hate in a time where minority groups should be banding together in the face of racism and inequality.
Co-Founder & Creative Director