I have heard the “model minority myth” a couple of times, scattered throughout my sheltered rising sophomore existence. With the upcoming presidential election, it is paramount to discuss this often-ignored issue. Asian Americans are a small, nascent political community whose votes may well decide election outcomes in places like California, Virginia and Texas. Latino and Asian immigration and civic participation are shifting the scales. Thus, it seems to be a pertinent time to discuss and understand the model minority myth that plagues all your friendly neighborhood Asians.
Unlike the more typical discrimination against some groups, discrimination faced by Asian Americans is subtle, yet still painful. Stoked by American popular culture, the “smart, wimpy Asian” stereotype stems off the pervasive benign minority/model minority myth. Think of Chris Rock at the 2015 Grammys with his band of prodigy Asian accountants. Or earlier this election season, Donald Trump gleefully butchered a Chinese accent in Iowa. On TV we immediately recognize that high pitched know-it-all who is “not-as-smart-as-she-thinks-she-is.” The staple gluttonous stat-wizkid at a fictitious math camp? Even innocuous Cho Chang, the protagonist’s Ravenclaw-smart and emotionally unstable love interest in the beloved Harry Potter series, plays into the pernicious model minority stereotype.