Former presidential candidate, Andrew Yang (Photo credit: Getty / Stephen Maturen)
By Guest Contributor: Anouk Yeh
On April 1, the Washington Post released an op-ed written by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, addressing the increased Anti-Asian sentiment in the nation. In the article, Yang stated that in order to combat the rising xenophobia in the nation, Asian Americans across the nation needed to embrace their “American-ness in ways [they] never have before,” arguing that Asian Americans needed to prove their allegiance to the country in order to be viewed as “not the virus.”
Within hours of the article’s release, Yang was met with immense backlash from the Asian American community. Actor Simu Liu, who is set to play the first ever Asian-American marvel superhero, and writer and comedian Jenny Yang both took to twitter to express their disappointment with Yang’s statement, with Liu calling “a slap in the face.”
This disappointment was no understatement, because to Asian American communities across the nation, Yang was not just a politician. Rather, he was a figurehead for the movement to increase Asian representation within higher political government. Although his campaign didn’t successfully make it into the White House, Yang was able to help blaze a starting trail for Asian American leaders to take the national stage.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang at the Sept 12 Democratic primary debate in Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. (Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Tonight, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Yang joined the nine other top Democratic presidential candidates on the debate stage at Texas Southern University. A noteworthy moment for Asian Americans, Yang remains one of the first Asian Americans in history to run a national campaign for the presidency.
That’s why it is all the more problematic that Yang routinely leans upon Model Minority stereotypes of Asian Americans to advance his candidacy. As early as last year, Yang routinely framed himself as qualified to be president because he is a “smart Asian” who is “good at math” — a classic Model Minority trope reminiscent of the infamous Time magazine cover that popularized model minority stereotypes for a generation of Americans. Tonight, Yang invoked a different facet of the Model Minority Myth when he quipped in response to a question on healthcare that “I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors.“
The Model Minority Myth has stood at the root of a good deal of anti-Asian racism and oppression. Yet, Yang is unconcerned by the many ways that the Model Minority Myth hurts Asian Americans and other people of colour. Instead, Yang sees Model Minority caricatures of Asian Americans as something to lean into and to laugh at, and he even sells math-branded Yang swag in his campaign store.
I can’t but wonder if Andrew Yang sees Model Minority stereotypes as a joke, then who’s really laughing with him?
Asian Americans are often lauded as a “model minority” that has achieved complete acceptance into American society. But silent and pervasive racism has shown that American identity was never meant to include people who look like me.
By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, NAPAWF
Throughout Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), I have reflected on the stories I’ve heard about the deeply frustrating lack of visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). While many Asian Americans are often referred to as “model minorities” whose stereotyped high achievements provide them a proxy to whiteness and American identity, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We continue to suffer from microaggressions, are still seen as perpetual foreigners, and have repeatedly been denied the ability to shine beyond the stereotypes of our communities — which were shaped by decades of American history and foreign policy. So on the last day of APAHM, I’m still thinking about why we are still striving to figure out where and how we fit into the fabric of this country. Because oftentimes, we have to fight just to be seen as American.
I sometimes wish I could go back in time and be my own guardian angel. I would reach down into that dark place of the Model Minority Myth and pull the younger me out. I would tell myself, “Baby, you got this. The best thing you can do is to ignore these goras.”
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2017’s Get Out is uniquely about the Black experience in America. Everything from stand-your-ground, to backyard auctions, to the performances of white liberal guilt by Rose’s family and friends are authored from real life experience; this is no more true than with the construction of the Sunken Place, which serves as a metaphor for Black helplessness in the face of white supremacy.
As an Indian-American watching Get Out, I knew there was something about the Sunken Place that felt analogous to my own experiences growing up in America. I recalled a similar “expectation” to acquiesce to whiteness, and the tool used to keep people like me subservient: The Model Minority Myth. Like the Sunken Place, the Myth is about white control over Asian Americans. As with racism of any kind, it is about shifting goal posts and double standards.