“Focus on sharing your story and affecting the people that are hungry for your light.” In this episode, I welcome back Colonel Trish Csank to kick off Asian American Pacific Islander Leaders Unmuted, a series of conversations to educate and inspire each other on the Asian experience. We discuss the Model Minority Myth, how it is harmful to all minorites, the dark side of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations, and why remaining true to yourself allowing others the same respect can yield optimal team results.
Support Constant Elevation: https://www.patreon.com/constantelevation
Direct Link to the YouTube episode – https://youtu.be/ou9twcaQBAo
What is the Model Minority Myth (MMM)?
- A model minority is a minority demographic (whether based on ethnicity, race or religion) whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average, thus serving as a reference group to outgroups. This success is typically measured relatively by educational attainment; representation in managerial and professional occupations; and household income, along with other socioeconomic indicators such as low criminality and high family/marital stability.
- The concept is controversial, as it has historically been used to suggest there is no need for government intervention in socioeconomic disparities between certain racial groups. This argument has most often been applied in America to contrast Asian Americans (both East and South Asians) and Jewish Americans against African and Hispanic Americans, enforcing the idea that Asian and Jewish Americans are good law-abiding, productive citizens/immigrants, while promoting the stereotype that Hispanics and African Americans are prone to crime and dependent on welfare.
- The stereotypes of AAPIs, especially AAPI women, have been seen in the way officers (senior leaders, commanders, SELs, etc.) respond to something or hand out assignments.
- “Unlike the engineers and doctors who mostly came from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and India–the model minority in the American imagination”
What we can do to break the MMM:
- MMM is a tool of manipulation that undermines the opportunity for everyone to express our race-related experiences. It is unfair to say “Racism isn’t a thing, look at how successful AAPIs are” because it attempts to negate the challenges any minority has experienced and continue to experience.
- MMM isn’t about AAPIs being smart or really good at math. MMM is a stereotype, plain and simple, and stereotypes will only hurt our ability to perform as an Air Force. We all have stories and diverse backgrounds that make our Air Force great, but MMM may prevent those important perspectives being shared because it over-generalizes success across an extremely diverse population with varied experiences. As AAPIs, we have the responsibility to speak up, shape a new definition of success, share our stories of wins and losses, and break this myth for ourselves and our teammates.
- “The Model Minority Myth Says All Asians Are Successful. Here’s why that’s dangerous.” by Victoria Namkung
- “The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority.” by Ellen Wu
- “Success Story: Japanese American Style” by William Pettersen