Today I want to share an article regarding the new Power Rangers movie posted on The Nerds of Color. In Power Rangers Brings Asian American Poverty Front and Center, Bao Phi discusses how Asian Americans are generally considered to be the most effluent and least discriminated against minorities, and how that stereotype erases the real experiences of Asian Americans that live at or below poverty levels and live with daily racism. The importance of representation in media is key here, as one of the main characters is a young Chinese American man who is neither rich nor powerful.
He brings up the idea of the model minority, the holding up of the success of Asian Americans, and how problematic that is. Giselle W. Chow writes in NAIS about how this myth not only stereotypes and erases many Asian Americans, a term that already groups many nationalities and cultures, but affects the way students are viewed and supported (or not supported) in schools.
Additionally, this idea covers up the very real historical racism that Asian Americans faced, and is used as a tool to imply that if some minorities can achieve so much, it is the fault of other minorities who do not (*cough* black people *cough* latin american immigrants *cough*). These ideals do nothing but support the transfer of white America’s racist tendencies to the group that is the “fear du jour.”
Our last article today comes from Race Files and closes with this:
The Asian American model minority myth’s durability is testament to its utility in making the case that racism cannot stand in the way of those with the right work ethic and a cheerful or at least stoical attitude toward the suffering and disadvantage racism imposes on its victims. The myth provides a smokescreen for one of the most fundamental contradictions of U.S. democracy – our ideal of liberty and equal rights, and our history of slavery and enduring legacy of white supremacy – and allows our policy makers to avoid the systemic reforms that are necessary to address that contradiction.
As long as we believe in the bootstrap myth, the prosperity gospel, the model minority – whichever belief you hold that convinces you that success is the result of hard work and (gag) grit, and not systemic privilege and luck, we will never address those policies that can actually help people. That is the real American legacy. Unless we change it.