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What Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority?

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catherine luong

on 11 September 2013

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Transcript of What Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority?

Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority?
Ronald Takaki brings up some good examples of Asian Americans who do not live up the the "model minority," but some of his examples lack concrete evidence to support his idea that Asian superiority is actually a harmful myth.
Where does Takaki stand on the issue?
Is the myth of Asian superiority really more detrimental than helpful?
Who is the "model minority" harmful to?
Takaki's Weak Examples
Where does Takaki stand on the issue?
Who is the "model minority" harmful to?
Takaki rejects the idea that Asian Americans are the “model minority”
He says it brings about their inequality among all Americans.
How? Will other minorities feel inferior? Will Caucasians treat Asian Americans better than other minorities? His statement is unclear here.
He says it can also create stress between Asian Americans and African Americans
This refers to "politicians and pundits" that make comparisons regarding their pay and education without looking at other factors that may affect it. Does this actually cause animosity among the two groups? He gives no evidence for this. He just states it and assumes it may contribute to this.
He says it is harmful to Asian Americans because it is not completely true and can be used as a generalized expectation of all Asians in school and at work. But can being seen as successful really be detrimental to a group of people?
The public may think that Asian Americans do not need as much financial assistance or education programs or unemployment benefits as other minorities if they believe that Asian Americans fit the “model minority.” But they would get it anyways depending on their situation. The government looks at the person's pay, not their race.
It is also harmful to African Americans because direct comparisons and conclusions are falsely made without considering other problems African Americans have to overcome, such as racism and an economy that has created an excess of young African American workers.
He says 25% of people in New York City’s Chinatown live below the poverty level in 1980, compared with 17% of the city’s population.
This makes a good example if you are assuming that the 25% is Asian American. But it is not specified here so it makes for an unstable and unclear example. Perhaps there are other minorities included in this percentage.
He says 60% of workers in Chinatowns of Los Angeles and San Francisco are crowded into low-paying jobs in garment factories and restaurants.
Again, this makes a good example if you are assuming that the 60% is Asian American. But it is not specified here so it makes for an unstable and unclear example. Perhaps there are other minorities included in this percentage.
Having a Chinese immigrant comment that the language barrier that prevents Asian Americans from entering the mainstream American industry, as well as gaining a license and education.
This is one person’s opinion from personal experience and should not apply to a whole group. But it is true that language, cultural, and social differences can be a barrier to advancement of careers.
He said in 1987 a California study showed 3 out of 10 Southeast Asian refugee families had been on welfare for 4-10 years.
Southeast Asian includes “Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam and West Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia), the other is the Malay Archipelago, or Maritime Southeast Asia, which comprises the countries of: Brunei (on the island of Borneo), East Malaysia (with the Malayan states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern part of Borneo), all the islands of Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Timor-Leste (East Timor).” So this does not include Chinese American people which make a large percent in America. Perhaps the addition of Chinese Americans would change that number.
College-educated Asian Americans hitting “glass ceiling” where high management positions can be seen but not reached.
He does not give reasons why, so this seems like a weak assumption with no evidence. There can be various reasons why.
Takaki's Weak Examples
Overall, Takaki gives some good examples of how Asian Americans do not fit the "model minority." But is having such a label detrimental to all Asian Americans? I do not think he has proven that with the flawed examples he has given.

Thanks for watching!
Full transcript