The statistics show it. Asian people get into college at much higher rates than White people. The average salary of Asians are higher than that of White people. Asian people get better grades than White people.
So does that mean Racism is over? Or at least that is what people say using these statistics as proof. Even more so, people are using these statistics to say that Affirmative Action is hurtful to Asians and thus is Racist. And even further White people are using this to shame other communities of color saying that they are lazy or just not trying hard enough.
And as Asian Americans, we often buy into this idea and we align ourselves with White people against other communities of color because the narrative makes us feel superior. Our success is used as a wedge between Asian Americans and other communities of color. We are weaponized against other communities of color.
So when we say that Asian people statisticallly are doing so well, what we are actually saying is that people from East Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Japan are doing well. As Immigrants from those 3 countries make up the majority of Asian Americans, it hides the struggles of Asian Americans from other countries, mostly South East Asia. The struggles of so many people from countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and others are hidden behind the success of East Asians.
A large reason for this disparity is from how people come to this country. Many people from East Asia who come to the states are people with some level of financial stability, education and resources to be able to build upon, while many people from South East Asia are coming to the US to escape persecution, poverty or are in need of some form of asylum.
Even though Asian Americans from East Asia are at a much more advantageous situation than South East Asia, we still are at major socio economic disadvantages in comparison to our White counterparts. Asian Americans do not have generational wealth, connections nor full understanding of how systems in the US works. All we have is hard work, which often for the first generation gets used for survival. A full generation’s lives are sacrificed on low paid work so that the next generation to have some chance to compete against our White counterparts.
This is where a lot of the Model Minority Myth comes from. While so many people think this stereotype is good, there are so many ways that this stereotype hurts Asian American communities. This stereotype causes so many Asian Amercans stress to live up to the expectations, and even more distress for those who are unable to do so. This stereotype renders those who cannot live up to the expectations as invisible. And because they are invisible they are unable to receive help and services for their hardships.
And of course there are some truths to the myth. Many of us are hard working, study nonstop, and are driven to success. But that also comes at a huge price. We sacrifice our childhood to be able to do so. After our homework, we are pushed to study further, we meet with private tutors, take SAT/ACT classes and are expected to learn multiple musical instruments. This loss of childhood often times results in stunted emotional and social growth, psychological damage and strenuous relationships with their parents. Because Asian Americans are pushed to hit these metrics that are used to measure the success of a person, many other aspects of their lives suffer. And these aspects because are not able to be quantifiable, are invisible, Asian Americans live through their lives carrying these traumas. Asian Americans have learned so well how to hit those public and visible metrics of success, so many of our struggles are invisible.
So when White people call other communities of color “lazy” what they are saying is that those communities of color should all sacrifice at least one generations of dreams hopes and life, deprive their children of their childhoods, stunt their social and emotional growths, put them through near child abuse levels of studying, pour all of their savings into their kids’ education, get denied any help from the system, and to render those who can’t keep up invisible.
So if other communities of color are “lazy” for not being able to hit these metrics as well, then White people, what is your excuse for not being able to?