The Myth of the Model Minority

By Sherry Zhang
Due to their success and wealth, Asian Americans have long been labeled as the model minority, a minority demographic whose members have achieved higher socioeconomic success than the general population. Although the idea of model minority does not sound bad to the ear, it does more harm than good for Asian Americans. Based on stereotypes, the myth of the model minority perpetuates that all Asian Americans are intellectuals and musical prodigies, have strict tiger parents, and pursue jobs in STEM industries, such as computer science, engineering, math, and medicine. Notorious, the model minority is known for spreading the idea that Asian Americans as a group are monolithic. 

Over time, the myth of the model minority erased the individuality of Asian Americans and categorized them as one entity. Especially in school, many people, classmates and teachers, believe in the set stereotype that “all Asians are smart.” Because the stereotype has been ingrained in their heads and has proved to be true most of the time, many classmates and teachers will often hold higher standards for Asian American students. They expect them to do well on exams and to end the school semester with all As. However, when an Asian American student does not perform exceedingly well on a subject, such as math, many question, “You’re Asian right? Aren’t you supposed to be good at math or something?” or “Aren’t you supposed to be really smart because you’re like Asian?” It may sound like a surprise to many, but not all Asians are academically successful or stellar at math. The one small group of bright-minded Asians cannot represent the general Asian American population as a whole. In other words, generalizing Asians based on stereotypes just ignores the individuality and struggles of Asian Americans.

For any group, not solely just Asian Americans, it is imperative to remember that stereotypes and the color of one’s skin do not define an individual. Such simple-minded thinking only results in more prejudice and injustice in American society.