When three Asian American children were trotted out in front of a national audience as both the props for and the butt of a joke delivered by Oscars host Chris Rock, mainstream attention was momentarily placed on the extent to which Asian Americans face racism. Ironically enough, Rock’s joke simultaneously demonstrated anti-Asian racism while it relied upon the model minority stereotype, a trope that has long served to obscure anti-Asian racism.
The problems with the model minority myth are legion. I am not here to debunk the model minority myth—thereismuchacademic and popularwritingonthesubject—but to examine one effect of its prevalence in public discourse: confused narratives of Asian American aggrievement.
This post was first published on Facebook, and has been adapted for publication on Reappropriate.
There’s a widely shared and watched video floating around the web (after the jump) that features a Chinese American woman speaking at protests organized after a jury found Officer Peter Liang of the NYPD guilty of manslaughter in the killing of Akai Gurley.
It’s a slick and convincing video that uses the kind of politically correct, in vogue language that typically appeals to many Chinese and Asian American progressives like myself.
For the last several days, jurors had deliberated Liang’s fate after hearing details about how Liang fired a single round from his service weapon while he and his partner, NYPD police officer Shaun Landau, were conducting a vertical patrol in the heavily-trafficked stairwell of a residential apartment building. Prosecutors argued that Liang acted recklessly when he fired into the darkness of the unlit stairwell despite ample police academy training that instructed him and all officers to not place their fingers in the trigger well of their weapon unless they are ready to fire a shot; jurors also heard that Liang’s weapon required 11.5 pounds of force in order to pull the trigger, a modification specific to police service weapons ensuring that they need nearly twice the force required to fire compared to commercially-available handguns to minimize accidental discharges.