The 'Model Minority' Concept Is Bad For Racial Equality

As An Asian-American, I Know How Dangerous The 'Model Minority' Concept Can Be For Racial Equality

This term fails to acknowledge the enslavement of black people for centuries, the dispossession of Mexican land, and the genocide of Native American peoples... all of which Asian Americans did not suffer from.


After watching Hasan Minhaj's episode on affirmative action in the "Patriot Act," it became clear to me that the socioeconomic disparity between Asians and other minorities in the U.S. eliminates any solidarity amongst people of color, making the fight against racial inequality much more difficult. In the episode, through many iconic hand gestures, Hasan references many Indian and Chinese "uncles" who argue against the case for affirmative action in the college admission process. Now, I'm not saying Asians and Asian-Americans don't work hard for their success. Believe me, we do. However, so do Latinos and blacks who have resided in this country for essentially hundreds of years with little to show for it.

The lack of empathy of Asian-Americans for other people of color is justifiable, to them, through the term "model minority." As an Asian-American, it first makes me feel proud and slightly arrogant, but then for some reason, I feel shameful and pathetic in my pride. That is because this term fails to acknowledge the enslavement of black people for centuries, the dispossession of Mexican land, and the genocide of Native American peoples... all of which Asian Americans did not suffer from. Tell me, what do I have to be proud of? Privilege? The truly dangerous part is the fact that we, people of color, are still falling for this tactic of "innate superiority" or "inferiority." Simply put, the term is evidence of a larger pattern practiced by the West: placing a small group above other minorities based on a slight, false difference. If you look back at history, you'll see that white colonizers consistently used hierarchy amongst non-whites to distract them from those at the top: whites.

Have you ever heard about the Rwandan Genocide? For those who have never heard of it, the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 can be traced back to its German and Belgian rulers. The Germans stated that out of the three ethnic groups in the African country (Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa) the Tutsi were genetically superior as their physiques resembled Europeans. They were supposedly slightly taller and had raised noses. However, as these differences were so minimal the Germans and later the Belgians mandated that ethnicity is stated on identification. The Tutsi made up approximately 18% of the population, the Hutu 80%, and the Twa 5%. Once again, a smaller group was chosen as superior and looked down on the greater minority. At the time of Rwanda's independence in 1962, Belgium did nothing to maintain the power of the Tutsi. Through decades of this hierarchy and the implementation of identification cards, the genocide of nearly 1 million Tutsi occurred.

My fellow Asian-Americans, we make up 5.8% of the population. Whenever you oppose affirmative action because it does not work in your favor or you blame blacks and Latinos for their suffering, just remember that we are the Tutsi. Our "natural intelligence" is temporary.

Does anyone remember the Japanese prior to World War II? They were seen as the most developed people in Asia by the West. In 1945, that same West dropped the atomic bomb on them. Does anyone remember Nelson Mandela and apartheid? Mahatma Gandhi was a South African lawyer before becoming a freedom fighter in India. He was able to become a lawyer because he was brown, not black. Indians in South Africa were seen as better than blacks, but they didn't see that that still made them less than whites. Regardless of what you feel about the Israeli-Palestine conflict, Israel is an instrument in which for some time Europe laid back and watched a formerly persecuted people battle another formerly colonized people.

If you haven't gotten my point yet, it's this: Whatever hierarchy the West spouts, forget it. Today, Asian-Americans are sadly the instrument through which whites oppress people of color without getting the blame. I don't want my people to be part of the problem. That's why I look in the mirror and acknowledge the color of my skin. That's why I educate myself on my history as a people. That's why I see a broken American class system. Just as Hasan said, "I'm ripping on uncles in our own community who lack self-awareness, and propagate anti-black and anti-brown rhetoric just so Asians can get ahead." I don't want to be part of a "model minority," I want to be human. Sorry, uncle.

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What Does Equality Mean To America?

Does America truly have the equality it preaches?

Equality is a right given to all the citizens of the United States of America, and the quote “all men are created equal” was a central idea in the Declaration of Independence, one of the most influential documents in our country’s history. Equality is everyone having the same fundamental rights, no matter the circumstance. Equality is everyone having the same worth. Although equality is a key tenet dating back to the founding of our country, it is not fully honored, even to this day. Many minority groups do not receive complete equality, both economically and socially. Equality is a lofty goal our country still strives toward.

We must keep continue to strive toward equality in this day in age. Already, our nation has progressed. We have given all citizens the right to vote, the rights to many basic freedoms citizens of other countries simply do not possess. We have the right to free speech, more freedom than 40% of the planet. We have the right to bear arms, the right to fair trial, among numerous other freedoms.

Yet, the United States is not perfect. Social equality still has not arrived for many African Americans and Latinos, with arrest and conviction rates much higher than their white counterparts still prevalent. These minorities suffer social injustice and prejudice. Muslim Americans have oft been falsely accused and derided because of their religion. Economic equality has not been realized either, and a wage gap of 20% persists.

But, we can change this. Us as a nation must stand for equality and strive for the ideal world where everyone is equal.

Cover Image Credit: Surge

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Dear Marvel, You Really Need TO Do Better With Representation

This is simply a poor attempt at more diversity.


SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers "Endgame" hit theaters and shattered records across the world with making an amazing $350 million in North America and an even more stunning $1.2 billion worldwide. In fact, 'Endgame' has already destroyed records set back "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Avatar," and even the first part of the movie, 'Infinity War.' Fans went in expecting a mix of emotions and for the most part, the movie definitely delivered. However, there is one thing that some fans are severely disappointed in.

Directors like the Russo Brothers hyped up an "exclusive gay character" and "Marvel's first openly gay character" in the 22 movie franchise. But fans weren't happy with what they received after all of this hype beforehand. While representation is representation sometimes it's simply not good enough. In this movie, Steve Rogers (Captain America) goes to a counseling group with others to deal with such a huge loss in their world and lives. This is where we meet the "exclusive" gay character, who barely even has a name. He's an unnoticeable character if you're not paying attention, has no relevance to the plot, and doesn't make any kind of difference in the movie at all. He talks about how he finally went out on a date, with a guy, and how eventually they both cry while reflecting on their lives after the snap. While they call this "exclusive," we call this pretty close to queerbaiting.

Making a big deal over a background character and parading him around for his sexuality isn't what we would call representation. While it's always cool to see an LGBTQ character on the screen in such a huge series, this character is still just a minor character and has no relevance and is literally never seen again. He is on screen for less than five minutes before we never see this character again. This is what you call representation? A minor background character with no importance whatsoever? No thanks!

What we are looking for is at least someone that has something to do with the plot, not just there to say they've done it and market to the LGBTQ community. Marvel needs to do better when it comes to this. Their big deal over a minor character lost our respect more than it gained because this excitement was only a money grab more than an actual attempt at diversity. When we have characters like Valkyrie, who is Bisexual in the comics, we want to see more major characters gain this diversity. Even Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson agrees, "we gotta move faster" as no person should be excluded from being a superhero for any reason, even sexual orientation.

So Marvel, while you're here breaking box office records, don't forget to do better at giving the LGBTQ community the representation they deserve, and the representation we all want! And until you do, we'll just be here looking over Brie Larson's and Bev Johnson's support of Captain Marvel and Valkyrie!

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