The “Model Minority Myth” is exactly that—a myth, and a problematic one that stereotypes Asian Americans as having more academic, social and economic success compared to other minorities because of their shared traits of being smart, hard-working and polite.
It’s particularly insidious because it’s couched as a positive, but the reality is that it places unspoken expectations on Asian Americans, and further distances us from other marginalized groups in the country. It also doesn’t account for how diverse the Asian population is.
As of the 2020 Census, there are 20.6 million people who identify as Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander with roots “that can be traced to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics,” according to the Pew Research Center.
So how do you even begin to describe the complexities of being an Asian in America? As I’ve found in even trying to write this introduction, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, but it’s something my colleague Marissa Wu and I wanted to explore together as we reflect on our identities during APAHM month.