Updated: May 12
Have you been scared to go outside the last couple years? Not only due to the pandemic, but because you feel like your physical safety is at risk every time you go outside. You are definitely not alone.
People don’t really talk about this these days, but the Muslim community experienced something similar after 9/11. Hasan Minhaj, a comedian, speaks about this in his comedy special on Netflix, Homecoming King. If you want to watch it, feel free to click here.
Racism against Asians has always been there, but it has dramatically increased due to the pandemic and how the last administration handled issues around the coronavirus. There is more documentation of it these days, especially in the media, and non-Asians can no longer deny the ongoing racism against Asians in the U.S. The continued daily evidence of other races targeting Asians, especially Asian elderly and Asian females, can make you question our common humanity.
The oppression olympics often comes up when anti-Asian hate gets brought up. This happens when another minority says, “why should I help you when you did not help me.” There is also a comparison of one another's suffering and concluding one minority has suffered more, therefore invalidating the other minorities' experience. A lot of people are guilty of thinking this, but it does not get anything done at the end of the day. We implore people to look within their own humanity and self-reflect if they think like this.
All in all, this system was purposely created to pit minorities against one another when the true issue is the people who created this system. This system makes rich people richer and makes lower SES people compete for resources, so of course there will be violence. When you lose everything or have nothing, you have nothing to lose. When the system is rigged against you, why would you do what the system tells you? The same system demanding order and non-violent protest, which often results in no change or move towards equity. A fundamentally flawed system perpetuating systemic racism.
What is the Model Minority?
The model minority is typically used when referring to Asians within the U.S. The media and mainstream culture usually brings up the model minority myth to compare another minority group to Asians in reference to their success and hard work paying off in the U.S. It is also to show that there is no prejudice/discrimination in the system, and the non-successful group is just not working hard enough.
The model minority myth was started as a result of one wave of immigrants from East and South Asia, who were healthcare professionals, engineers, among other highly educated individuals. This discounts all other Asian groups, including Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, who immigrated at a different time period and often as a result of fleeing a war-torn country. They also tend to have lower SES/education and are within the working class (Jin, 2021).
Why is This Important?
This model minority myth is weaponized by dominant culture to keep other minorities in line. When it is not to the dominant culture’s or majority group's benefit, anti-Asian sentiment becomes strong, so Asians are seen as the scapegoat. Asians/Asian Americans are also seen as perpetual foreigners, never quite belonging. Once you feel like you might belong, the rug may be pulled out from underneath you. An example of this is the internment of Japanese Americans living within the U.S. during World War II. Most were U.S. citizens and acculturated to U.S. culture, but that did not stop the U.S. government from forcibly removing and incarcerating them as well as seizing their property (History.Com, 2021).
The myth is important to acknowledge and to be aware of in order to begin challenging it. At the end of the day, it is a myth and not grounded in reality. In a NPR article written by Jin (2021), there are multiple visible data points displaying how the myth is false. No one, but the dominant culture benefits from this myth since it allows the dominant culture to stay in power while minorities fight one another for resources. The dominant culture becomes wealthier and continues to treat minorities as poorly as they see fit.
The model minority myth and anti-Asian hate goes hand in hand. If you are another minority and believe the myth, would you not be resentful? It is likely this is one of the reason Asians/Asian Americans have been a target of hate crimes. Recently and currently, people, especially ignorant folks, are using the Asian/Asian American population as scapegoats for the COVID pandemic, which led to the continued and sustained increase in Asian hate crimes.
How to Help Combat the Model Minority Myth/Anti-Asian Hate
Once you are aware of the myth and anti-Asian hate in your life, the next step is to challenge its hold on your life and the people around you. Feel free to use the suggestions you feel safe with.
The following are ways you can begin to challenge these beliefs:
It starts from within
Do you believe or have believed in the model minority myth?
How do you feel in this time as Asians/Asian Americans are continued to be attacked?
Do your research and learn more about your Asian American history (the resources below can be a good start)
Unlearning toxic messaging around minorities is helpful
If you feel passionate about combating anti-Asian hate, there are things you can do
Checking in with your community and discussing this topic
Donating money does make a difference
Stop Asian Hate: Together, We Can Make a Difference: https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/stop-aapi-hate
Check out the resources below for more information
Get involved in an organization helping to combat anti-Asian hate
The resources below have more information on this
Report hate crimes to police and https://www.standagainsthatred.org/ to help track them
The pandemic has been difficult for everyone but especially for minorities within the U.S. Anti-Asian hate has been increasing and surging during the pandemic. There is still no end in sight, and it can feel scary at times. You are not alone in this. Please take extra precaution, especially if you are Asian/Asian American, during these times.
If you are interested in getting help with descontructing this, feel free to contact us through our site.
Stay tuned. The next topic is "Internalized Racism."
History.Com. (2021, October 29). Japanese Internment Camps. History. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation
Jin, C. (2021, May 25). 6 Charts That Dismantle The Trope Of Asian Americans As A Model Minority. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2021/05/25/999874296/6-charts-that-dismantle-the-trope-of-asian-americans-as-a-model-minority
Historian Erika Lee & activist Helen Zia on rise in anti-Asian violence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoQdpA6VMdw
We Need To Talk About Anti-Asian Hate by The Try Guys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14WUuya94QE
Anti-Asian Violence Resources: https://anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co/
Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.
Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.