"The Asians Have Landed! I Repeat, The Asians Have Landed!"

I came across a (what seems to me after viewing some of its contents for the past 15 minutes) great blog done by an Asian American called All Out for the Fight. In one of his blogs he comments on the New York Times article "Little Asia on the Hill" and how the image of the "Model Minority" is in fact:
fucking annoying and should be annoying to any Asian-American who strives to be fully human. Not only because it places impossible-to-reach expectations upon us, but because it is part and parcel of an attempt to keep us stranded from the struggles of black and Latino people and to strand black and Latino people from "polite" society in general.
We have gone over the fact in the previous post why it seems as though Asian Americans are successful at holding higher incomes but, when looked at closely, we see that this isn't the case that many whites make it out to be. In this blog the author goes over what he dislikes about the model minority myth in aspects to education, which is also something we will be going over in future blog posts.

The author goes on to make some good points on why there is a large influx of Asian Americans in college today:
What we can say is that post 1960s immigration policy was explicitly designed to have a strong correlation between legal immigration status and pre-immigration educational achievement. That means the Green Card lottery is skewed toward those families that already have a member of the family (often the patriarch) who has a Masters, and in an area where the U.S. is lacking in (i.e., those who have a Masters in Computer Science are distinguished even further in the process).
Part and parcel of the model minority myth is the idea that affirmative action has harmed Asian-American enrollment. While it is true, if you make a monolith of Asians and Asian-Americans that you have a smaller percentage, when investigating further you find that those that are shafted by the dismantling of affirmative action in higher education are those that need higher education the most -- i.e., working class Asians. That is to say, while the pool of "Asians" in higher education at Berkeley and so on is greater now, examining further you'll find that the U.C. system as a whole has lost a great deal of its working class component with the end of affirmative action: big decreases in Hawaiian native, Pacific Islander (Samoan, Tongan, etc.) and Filipino populations. I would speculate that there are now a greater number of affluent East Asians -- "uptown Chinese" in the words of Prof. Peter Kwong -- who are winning a sort of "honorary white" status.
Commenting on the New York Times report:
In the end, the Times makes the quintessential flaw of the bourgeois liberal multiculturalist approach to race: defining the problem as a lack of "diversity" in the institution, rather than a lack of power in and over the institution for a given population.
On another point, scholar Yuko Kawai, in "Stereotyping Asian Americans: The Dialectic of the Model Minority and the Yellow Peril." Howard Journal of Communications 16, no 2 (April/June 2005): 109-130 states that:
The model minority stereotype has been criticized by Asian American scholars because of its political implications (e.g., Nakayama, 1988; Osajima, 2000; F. H. Wu, 2002) and also because it does not tell a story that resonates with the lived realities of Asian Americans (e.g., Suzuki, 1977; Takaki, 1989). It is, however, also the case that the model minority stereotype has been evaluated positively by Asian Americans. Cheng and Yang (2000), for instance, contended, ‘‘the model minority concept is not without its virtues; historically, it helped turn around the negative stereotypes of Asian Americans and the enhanced the positive image of Asian Americans’’ (p. 473). The model minority stereotype is argued by some to evoke negative implications such as racial hostilities and violence despite its seemingly ‘‘positive’’ image that it creates for Asian Americans. F. H. Wu (2002) posited that ‘‘the model minority myth hurts Asian Americans themselves. It is two-faced’’ (p. 67). The 1982 murder of Vincent Chin and the violence against Asian Americans in the 1992 Los Angeles riots are raised as such examples (e.g., Feng, 2002; Osajima, 2000; Palmer, 1999; Takaki, 1989; F. H. Wu, 2002). These negative consequences of the model minority stereotype can be better understood by thinking that ‘‘the concepts of the yellow peril and the model minority, although at apparent disjunction, form a seamless continuum’’ (Okihiro, 1994, p. 141) in the sense that Asian Americans as the model minority is ‘‘a complementary, benign image’’ of the yellow peril (p. 139).
In the United States, the yellow peril signified the fear of Asian migration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Laffey, 2000). Asian immigrants’ different bodies and cultures were perceived as a great threat—the yellow peril—to American identity as the country of the White race and Western civilization (Lee, 1999). White Americans perceived people of Asian descent or ‘‘Orientals’’ as inassimilable foreigners who ‘‘would eventually overtake the nation and wreak
social and economic havoc’’ (Fong, 2002, p. 189).
This new model minority myth is yet another form of "Yellow Peril" with many whites lamenting the fact that there are too many Asian Americans overcrowding the best schools; yet at the same time, many whites use the model minority myth to attack other people of color by using the "fact" of the model minority to state that other people of color "need to get their act together" and that they are just "being lazy."

The first instance of the model minority myth was in 1966 when the New York Times and the U.S. News and World Report did articles on the "success" of many Asian immigrants. Kawai goes on to say:
By stressing that Asian Americans were succeeding through making efforts on their own despite their racial background, the model minority stereotype produces a ‘‘color blind talk,’’ the most influential racial ideology in the post-Civil Rights Movement era (Kim, 1999, 2000). Color blind ideology ‘‘furthers racial power not through the direct articulation of racial differences but rather by obscuring the operation of racial power, protecting it from challenge, and permitting ongoing racialization via racially coded methods’’ (Kim, 2000, p. 17). The word color blind was first used in 1896 in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in which U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harlan, opposing the ‘‘separate but equal’’ doctrine, stated that ‘‘our constitution is colorblind. . . . In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law’’ (quoted in F. H. Wu, 2002, p. 146). Harlan’s statement was meaningful at a time when people of color were officially segregated. Yet, in the post-1965 era, the idea of colorblindness has been appropriated by conservatives to rhetorically disguise ‘‘fundamentally racial claims’’ (Kim, 1999, p. 17). Critical race theorists argue that the ideology of colorblindness abstracts individuals from social and historical contexts and attributes the consequences of racial inequality to individual under-performance without acknowledging institutional racism (Guinier & Torres, 2002). Thus they challenge the concept of race as a formal and neutral category and, at the same time, advocate understanding the importance of race in U.S. society...Therefore, depicting Asian Americans as the model minority simultaneously serves downgrading other racial minorities as ‘‘problem’’ minorities (e.g., Kim, 1999, 2000; F. H. Wu,
The model minority myth also classifies Asian Americans as one monolithic group when the complete opposite is true. In an article done by Min Zhou and Yang Sao Xiong "The Multifaceted American Experiences of the Children of Asian Immigrants: Leassons for Segmented Assimilation." Ethnic and Racial Studies 28, no. 6 (Nov. 2005): 1119-1152 the authors state:
Asian Americans are diverse not only in origins but also in some of the key demographic and socio-economic characteristics, underlying their differences in contexts of exit and reception. Unlike earlier immigrants from Asia, who were mostly male unskilled labourers with the intention of eventual returning to their homelands, today’s Asian Americans are a more settled group showing a fairly balanced gender ratio as Table 1 shows. The higher proportion of females among Filipinos, Japanese, and Koreans may have been due to war brides and the importation of nurses (Glenn 1988; Choy 2003). Asian Americans are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to live in married-couple and multigenerational families with larger average family size. They also have higher proportions of children under 18 and lower proportions of elderly over 64 with the exception of the Japanese.
Unlike their earlier counterparts, today’s immigrants from Asia also show a wide range of skill levels. Highly educated and skilled professionals tend to be overrepresented among Chinese, Indians, and Filipinos, while poorly educated, low-skilled workers tend to be over-represented among Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians, most of whom have entered the United States as refugees.
As a whole, Asian American average levels of education are exceptionally high. College graduates among those aged 24 /34 are more numerous than among non-Hispanic whites. Asian American median household income reached $61,000, much higher than among white families. But Asian American poverty rate is 13 per cent, which is higher than for whites. (Italics mine)
So while many Asian Americans are entering prestigious colleges it's mostly to do with their family's educational and class backgrounds since many Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans don't end up going to college (they mostly come from poorer backgrounds) as do Chinese Americans. So while, on the surface, the model minority myth may hold resonance, in reality the model minority myth is just another form of contemporary racist white thought and also misguided by not taking an in depth analysis into the real statistics.

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Modern Pitung said...

Thanks for the link. Will be working on reciprocating shortly. Cheers.