We are very aware of the model minority myth. But is there something beyond that? Somehow, in America, we've come to see 23 ethnic groups as a vague entity: "Asian American". And the people we mostly associate with this myth are largely non-representative of the actual group. Contrary to popular belief, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Americans are not the only "Asian Americans".
Asian Americans make up about five percent of the U.S. population. For my History of Education class, I wanted to look at the education of Asian Americans. However, while doing my research I stumbled upon some odd statistics. In 2013 a government data collection showed that around 40% of Hmong Americans have dropped out of school. This was a huge contrast what I knew about the successes of Asian Americans.
Just for context, the Hmong are most notably descendants of Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese refugees during the Vietnam War. They fled persecution, ethnic cleansing, and human rights violations. They were granted, official asylum as refugees under the Refugee Assistant Act of 1975.
They are an ethnic minority within a minority group and their story is often forgotten amidst the stereotypes and myths. Unlike the big three Asian ethnic groups, the Hmong have yet to encounter the same success as their other counterparts, and much of this has to do with the culture of the Hmong and insufficient support they have had since their arrival. Unlike many other immigrants, the Hmong largely came from rural areas and lacked formal education, and many have had difficulties adapting their rural traditions to contemporary American society.
Around 37 percent of Hmong Americans live under the poverty line, and they are also the third lowest earning ethnic group in America. And Hmong refugees also have the highest rates of mental disorder, with an incidence rate of around 33.5 percent. In this instance, the model minority myth can have actual effects on the Hmong people. Their needs are forgotten or ignored as people idealize those who symbolize the myth. With the perception that all Asian Americans are wealthy and educated, we prompt suffering for the groups like the Hmong who would not receive adequate support.