Confronting Racism

 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.

Social Activist for Racial Equity

Facilitating Discussions about Racism





Model Minority Myth


"The model minority myth gives a pretty blanket for society to hide it's

racism against Asian Americans under, while seperating them from other

people of color who suffer from the same white supremacist system."

Ijeoma Olou


The Model Minority Myth is the racial stereotype that has been created around Asians in the United States. These stereotypes describe all people of Asian descent in the same way: "presumptions of academic and financial success, social and political meekness, a strong work ethic, dominance in math and the sciences, and strict parenting."(Oluo, p. 193) The problem with the model minority myth is that it describes a large and incredibly diverse group of Asian Americans.


For those who fit into the stereotype, as there are always part of a group that fit a stereotype, they are held into a very limited way of being and if they step out of that stereotype they receive pressure from the white majority to step back into place, effectively oppressing them. For those who do not fit the steretype, and that is the majority of Asian Americans, then their values and needs are seen as invalid and negated by much of society, again effectively oppressing them.


The Model Minority Myth has another effect as it elevates Asian Americans over Black and Latinx Americans creating another racial devide that in the end keeps all of them disenfranchised. Ijeoma Oluo describes the different ways in which the model minority myth harms Asian Americans as: (p.197-199)

  • "Limits on professional success. While Asian Americans are seen as professional success stories, very few are able to make it to the top of their fields, despite the education and qualifications that they are known for."
  • " Hate crimes against Asian Americans. Hate crimes against all Asian American groups are given little attention in the United States, but because the model minority myth focuses so heavily on East Asians as the definition of Asian Americans, the alarming rate of hate crimes against South Asians is often ignored."
  • "Health and Safety of Asian American Women. The stereotype of the docile and subservient Asian woman is often used to encourage and hide abuse of Asian women by their partners."
  • "Lack of Political Power. The stereotype of the 'meek' Asian American, combined with social pressure to stick to science and technology fields, has discouraged many Asian Americans from seeking political leadership and activism roles and prevents those who do seek those roles from being seen as 'strong enough' leaders for the task."
  • "Everyday discrimination and microagressions against Asian Americans. The model minority myth puts a lot of pressure on Asian Americans to seem happy with their 'great success' in America and live up to the hard working and docile image projected onto them. This makes it vey hard for Asian Americans to complain about racist microagressions against them, and makes it even harder for them to be taken seriously when they do."
  • "Common struggle with other people of color. ... The model minority myth is often used to separate Asian Americans from other people of color by using their perceived socioeconomic and academic success and docile nature to compare and contrast with black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. This devide-and-conquer technique serves to redirect struggle against oppressive White Supremacy to competition between Asian Americans and other people of color."  
"Health and Safety of Asian American Women."

The model minority myth, although it's not widely known or understood, essentially maintains white supremacy by oppressing Asian Americans and further disempowering other people of color. Understanding the model minority myth is vital to addressing systemic racism.

Copyright © 2020   Glenn Bigonet, M.A.