In brief, the issue is as follows: in American society there is a dominant stereotype to view Asian-Americans as a “model minority”. The “model minority term refers to ethnic, racial or religious group, which achieved a higher level of success than the population average. In the USA this term is most often used to describe Asian-Americans. The “stereotyped” Asian-Americans are seen as polite, intelligent and successful. In other words ”“ “geek and nerd” kind of reputation (Wu, p. 325).
There are two sides on the issue of “model minority” labeling of Asian-Americans. The first, the “yes” side is clearly represented by American scholar David A. Bell. His arguments are rigid and stereotypic. He stresses the rapid growth of Asian immigration to the USA during last decades (Bell, p. 313-314). Then, he points out that the general income in Asian-American families is larger than that of white American families (circa 23000 dollars vs. 20000 for whites) (Bell, p. 317). In this, he stresses the enrollment of family members in family business (according to the data he presents, all family members in Asian-American families work from 15 to 18 hours per day) (Bell, p. 321). According to Bell, Chinese usually work in restaurant and laundry business, Japanese ”“ in grocery and farming, Koreans ”“ in grocery. Furthermore, he highlights the high rates of university admission among Asian-Americans, their presupposed affinity to sciences and computing. It is a considerable contribution to the concept of “model minority” Asian-Americans.
On the other side, Asian-American scholar Frank H. Wu depicts the ridiculous Asian-American stereotype, which exists in the minds of white Americans. They flee from famine, war or communist oppression from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Philippines. They start off with pidgin English but eventually enter the best universities and work for Nobel Prize in physics, math or whatever. Or they get a job in a high-tech company and buy big houses, cars and bring their relatives along. In his view, a “model minority” image is a negative image.
Although the fact that Asian-Americans are more educated and qualified cannot be argued, Wu states that they are underpaid taking the same jobs as whites. He points out that while Chinese and Japanese Americans are closer to whites in their income and life quality, the Vietnamese and other Asians linger in poverty. What is more important that the income of the upper-managers of Japanese-based multinational companies is added to the total income, making the figures soar. In fact, these managers are a part of a world upper-class and have no relation to Asian-Americans. Wu claims ”˜model minority myth” as a form of racism (by the words of a novelist F. Chin ”“ “racist love”). As a result of this myth, Asian-Americans are used by the government as an example for Afro-Americans, which makes the enmity between them even worse (Wu, p. 332).
I, personally, agree with the point of view of Frank H. Wu. The “model minority myth” is really a dangerous stereotype which threatens Asian-Americans security and well-being. Moreover, it gives ground for racial bias and violence, based on racism. Asian-Americans are not a model minority; we are a “middle” minority just like any other. It may be that we are different, but we are not “better” or “worse” than white Americans in any sense. There is no need to celebrate us as well there is no need to look down upon us as the people of the “second sort”. That can be equally dangerous.
Bell, David A. America’s Greatest Success Story: The Triumph of Asian-Americans. Web. 31 July 2011.
Wu, Frank H. The Model Minority: Asian American “Success” as a Race Relations Failure. Web. 31 July 2011.