May 4: The Culture Canard of the Model Minority Myth | #APAHM2015 #ReappropriateRevisited

tiger-mom

For this year’s AAPI Heritage Month, I will take each day to pull one of my favourite posts or pieces from the archives highlighting some aspect of AAPI history and heritage, and add to it a short commentary and reflection. I invite you to check back every day for this #ReappropriateRevisited month-long feature!

With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement has come a series of important protests and uprisings, drawing attention to the persistent abuse that Black men and women face at the hands of police. Yet, even as mainstream attention is forced to focus on Blackness, a dubious narrative invariably also emerges: one that would pit Blacks against the supposedly more well-behaved and upwardly mobile Asian Americans. It took mere days for the media to distract from a larger discussion of Blackness and racial justice by focusing instead on Black-Asian tensions, told most recently by NPR through the lens of Asian American victims of Black protest movements.

Jeff Yang takes on this tired trope of Asian Americans distractingly pitted against Blacks in the struggle for Black uplift in his most recent editorial for CNN. His piece reminds me of David Shih’s recent viral article on the history of the Model Minority Myth, and its importance with regard to the Black Solidarity movement.

Meanwhile, for today’s ReappropriateRevisted, I pull from the archives one of my favourite pieces that I’ve written for the site. This post also dismantling the Model Minority Myth with relation to the Right’s stereotype of choice: Asian American cultural predispositions for academic achievement. It also ponders the question as to why some Asian Americans so deeply embrace this particular brand of the Model Minority Myth.

Continue reading “May 4: The Culture Canard of the Model Minority Myth | #APAHM2015 #ReappropriateRevisited”

How both Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart got it really wrong on Asian Americans

daily-show-bill-o-reilly
Why? Why did this happen?

So this happened.

I guess because Bill Maher’s battle of wits (in absentia) with Ben Affleck over Maher’s latent Islamophobia went viral last week and Jon Stewart could be having none of that, Stewart invited on Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly last night ostensibly to promote O’Reilly’s newest book — something-something-General-Patton-no-one-cares — but really with the singular goal of getting Papa Bear to admit the existence of White privilege (video after the jump).

And, if that was Stewart’s goal, he failed utterly at it. Instead, what we were left with was an incoherent 12-minute sputtering contest between an avowed liberal so flabbergasted by conservative obstinance that he was rendered largely speechless, and a Fox News anchor who looked for all the world like he was being held hostage on set.

Continue reading “How both Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart got it really wrong on Asian Americans”

The Culture Canard of the Model Minority Myth: how racial gaps in academics aren’t due to cultural pathology

bill-o-reilly-talking-points

This past week, Bill O’Reilly was his usual raging asshole self when he set out on his Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor” to debunk the notion of White privilege. The essence of his argument? Asian Americans are doing great socioeconomically even though we are not White. Therefore, racism must not really exist, and the root of the problem for African Americans must be a cultural pathology.

To bolster his argument, O’Reilly pointed to racial disparities between Blacks, Whites and Asians in graduation rates, unemployment rates and median family income to conclude that African Americans have essentially invented a mythological White privilege as an attempt to avoid taking “personal responsibility”. O’Reilly argued:

Just 13 percent of Asian children live in single parent homes compared to a whopping 55 percent for blacks and 21 percent for whites. So, there you go. That is why Asian Americans, who often have to overcome a language barrier, are succeeding far more than African-Americans and even more than white Americans. Their families are intact and education is paramount.

In essence, Papa Bear provides a textbook example of Asian Americans used as the wedge minority by the White mainstream to berate African Americans (and implicitly other academically disenfranchised minority groups) for not bootstrapping their way to socioeconomic success. It can’t be racism; it must be some deficiency in Black culture to blame, right? After all, the Asians can do it, why can’t the Blacks?

Continue reading “The Culture Canard of the Model Minority Myth: how racial gaps in academics aren’t due to cultural pathology”

Report shows San Francisco’s AAPI residents experience high poverty, chronic disease rates

Bed-ridden Bao Qi Mo, 85, in the single-resident occupancy (SRO) room he shares with his family in San Francisco's Chinatown. High poverty rates and over-crowding have led to a deterioration of living conditions for some of the city's Asian American residents.  (Photo credit: Brant Ward, The San Francisco Chronicle)
Bed-ridden Bao Qi Mo, 85, in the single-resident occupancy (SRO) room he shares with his family in San Francisco’s Chinatown. High poverty rates and over-crowding have led to a deterioration of living conditions for some of the city’s Asian American residents. (Photo credit: Brant Ward / The Chronicle)

Jessica Kwong (@JessicaGKwong) of the San Francisco Examiner summarizes a recent report issued by the Asian Pacific Islander Council titled “Asian and Pacific Islander Health and Wellbeing: A San Francisco Neighborhood Analysis”. The report published several findings regarding the city’s Asian American population that challenge the Model Minority Myth, which asserts that Asian Americans are by and large “doing fine”.

Contrary to stereotypes, the Asian Pacific Islander Council’s report reveals that in San Francisco, 14% of Asian Americans live in poverty — lower than other racial groups — but that the population size of poor Asian Americans has grown by 44% in the last few years. As  also reflected with an in-depth look at national AAPI unemployment trends, the unemployment rate for Asian Americans was also 1.5x greater than city-wide averages. Many of those impoverished Asian Americans live in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where over-crowding has led to appalling living conditions for some families who are forced to squeeze entire families into rooms designed for single residents. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that San Francisco’s Chinatown — an ethnic enclave just under 1.5 square miles in area — was home to over 100,000 Chinese Americans in 2000, or two-thirds of San Francisco’s total Chinese American population.

The over-crowding of poor Asian Americans in Chinatown has become a subsequent strain on local social services, and has also contributed to high rates of mental illness and other chronic diseases. Yet these social problems are rarely addressed in the larger discourse on the city’s Asian American population; instead, most residents assume that San Francisco’s Asian American population are comprised predominantly of the city’s wealthy elite.

Continue reading “Report shows San Francisco’s AAPI residents experience high poverty, chronic disease rates”