The model minority myth refers to the situation where minority groups with regard to ethnic, religious or racial segregations tend to achieve a higher degree of success than the average population. The success is generally measured in terms of income, levels of education, stability and other economic as well as social aspects. This myth has the effect of stereotyping races with Asian Americans suffering the blunt of these perceptions. The stereotype seems to suggest that Asian Americans are perceived to be more economically, socially and academically successful in comparison to other minority groups with regard to the racial aspect.
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The history of this myth can be traced back to the mid-1960 when the term the period in which the term was coined up. William Petersen an author with "The New York Times magazine" came up with this word in his 1966 article titled "success story: Japanese American style". In his highly analytical article Petersen claimed that Japanese descents seemed to be "better" when compared to other groups in the society. The author in asserting his position even gave examples such as the Japanese were more intelligent, had a strong sense of pride in their culture, they were law abiding and many other positive attributes (Petersen, 21). Most of those who read this article seemed to agree completely with his assertions. However much has changed from this period and the Asian community term has been broadly used to highlight this term of model minority.
During the 1960 period, Asian Americans were regarded as exemplars for other groups to follow in order to attain the American dream. The thinking at that period was that if a minority group of Asian American origin could succeed, then the same success could ultimately be possible with other groups which were larger than the Asian Americans. This was the period in which the civil right movement groups were at their peak. It was during this period that Asian Americans were classified as the model minority. Political conservatives in response to these increasingly growing civil movements pointed out to Asian American as testimony that the American Dreamland held no barrier to race or color. This was however a ploy by the political group in their efforts to counteract efforts by civil rights movements in trying to remove legal and social disparities between various groups either minority or majority.
Although the political class in 1960 tried to hail praises to the successes of the model minority, the growing discrimination and perception that many had on them were still vivid. A term coined up by Kaiser Wilhelm depicts the situation that Asian American went through mainly during the 19th century especially immigrants who to the US. The term "Yellow Peril" as it was referred to, was used to highlight the threat that Asian Americans had on wages of the white population and also the effects that it would have on their living standards. The term which refers to the skin colors of Asians mainly from the east of Asia. Xenophobic attacks which were justified as being a fight against the "yellow peril" took place and this lead to the government implementing a law to counteract it (Moritzen, 67).
When these perceptions of Asian Americans being the most successful minority groups are critically put through a lens, bits of truth actually come into light. According to a report carried out in 2003 by the National Center for Education Statics in the US, it was discovered that Asian American students fared better than any other minority group. The study which took into focus aggregate mean group differences came up with conclusive evidence that Asian American descents actually perform better than any other minority group.
Although the positive aspects that the minority model myth seems to portray of Asian American groups as being hard working and successful, this type of stereotyping has its ardent disadvantages. This flattering whether it has any truth in it at all in it has caused some kind of friction both among Asian Americans and also against other minority groups. There is the certain discernment among many minority groups in the US who seem to believe everything associated with the myth and this has in one way or another led to a kind of segregation for the minority model. One of the major shortcomings of this model minority myth is that it generally pits the Asian American group against the other racial groups.
Asian Americans are viewed to be a successful group that is free from racial discrimination because of their minority model tag that is pegged on them. This exposes them to the fervent dangers of suffering from racial discrimination and xenophobic attacks a good example being the Vincent Chin case. The case is set in 1980 when the US had sunk into a recession as a direct response to the rapidly changing global economy. This event prompted targeted crimes against Asian Americans who were accused of causing the recession. Detroit, Michigan was the epicenter of this violence. The auto industry in Michigan had collapsed due to what they termed as cut throat competition with Japanese firms. Unemployed workers together with the media blamed Asian Americans for this. Vincent Chin was brutally killed "in a barroom brawl by two white workers" (Yung, Chang and Lai, 346). A confrontation had ensued and the white men had mistaken Chin to be Japanese. The killers of Chin were each fined 3000 dollars and sentenced to a three year probation period. These lenient sentences annoyed the Asian Americans who saw it as a deliberate failure of the justice system and thus as a showing of governments neglect on the plight of Asian Americans.
April 29, 1992 will forever remain etched in the history of not only the Asian American community but also the entire nation. This day was a tragic and shameful day for the US with regard to the events that took place. The Sa-I-Gu documentary captures the tragic events that took place in Los Angeles with a minority Asian American group the Korean American suffering the most. The documentary does not shy away from giving variable insight of how the minority model is perceived in the US. The press did not air the plight of American Koreans who suffered the most instead they focused on highlighting the Korean versus Blacks as the cause of the conflict instead of the symptom. The documentary told from the perspective of a Korean woman, critics the media for its lack of highlighting the plight of the model minority and shows just how they are negatively perceived in America.
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