Asian Americans: “The Model Minority”- A Positive Stereotype?

Asian Americans are considered the “model minority” due to all of their accomplishments and prestige in the United States they are able to achieve despite their minority status in society. They are in general more educated, successful, and wealthy than the white population. So, they provide a model for other minorities to live up to and believe to be a possibility. They are given what are called “positive stereotypes,” but although the word “positive” is used in this, it does not necessarily mean that these stereotypes serve well for the Asian Americans who are labeled by them.

So what are some of these “positive stereotypes”? The main ones include that Asian Americans are smarter than most Americans, being naturally smart at science, math and technology. Others include that they are hard-working, self reliant, and “living the American dream.” These generalizations also include that they are docile and submissive, uncomplaining, and spiritually enlightened so they hardly ever need assistance.

So those are the stereotypes. What about the facts? According to cmhc.utexas.edu/modelminority.html, Asian American college students are more likely to seek medical leave, more likely to go on academic probation, and are less likely to graduate in 4 years. Asian American students are also more likely than white students to report struggles with stress, sleep, and feelings of hopelessness, yet less likely to seek counseling. What’s even more surprising is 33% of Asian American students drop out of high school or don’t graduate on time. If that’s not shocking enough, in 2004, 11.8% of Asian Americans lived below the poverty line, experiencing the largest rise in poverty among all groups. I find this evidence that is so contrary to the “positive” stereotype that Asian Americans are given to be extremely interesting, and deserving of further attention and research.

In reflection of these facts and statistics, it is apparent to me that this stereotype has had a negative effect on the Asian American population. I think this is due to the pressures and high expectations for them to pursue careers in math and science more than their fellow classmates, to be more successful than most Americans, and to mantain their status as model minorities so other minorities have a realistic group to idolize. Because Asian Americans are labeled with this stereotype, they are put under much more pressure than most of the population and more is expected of them, increasing their stress level and impacting other aspects of their wellbeing. These facts clearly discredit the term “positive stereotype” from having any positive effect due to the negative impact on the ones involved. This information further proves that a stereotype will always be a stigma and does not benefit someone. Regardless of whether the stereotypes include positive or negative qualities, they are still labels that separate minorities from the general population and cause them to be viewed and treated differently. This damaging positive stereotype can also be discouraging to other minorities, and ones of the majority, because they will not be viewed as smart or as capable, especially in science and math, as an Asian American.  In conclusion, evaluation of this stereotype is further demonstration that if stereotypes could vanish, or have less attention drawn to them, we could have a more equal playing ground where people are placed in the areas they belong due to their true abilities and talents regardless of their ethnicity.

 

 

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