字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 In 2007, researchers surveyed over 180 teachers to understand if they held stereotypes about students from three racial groups. The results surfaced several negative stereotypes, labeling Black students as aggressive and stubborn, white students as selfish and materialistic, and Asian students as shy and meek. But regardless of the teachers’ other biases, the most commonly held opinion was that Asian students were significantly more industrious, intelligent, and gentle than their peers. On the surface, this might seem like a good thing, or at least better than other, negative characterizations. But treating this seemingly favorable stereotype as reality can actually cause a surprising amount of harm— to those it describes, those it doesn’t, and even those who believe it to be true. This image of humble, hard-working Asians is actually well-known as the “model minority” stereotype. Versions of this stereotype emerged in the mid-20th century to describe Chinese Americans. But following World War II, the label became commonly used to claim that Japanese Americans had overcome their mistreatment in US incarceration camps, and successfully integrated into American society. Former incarcerees were praised as compliant, diligent, and respectful of authority. In the following decades, “model minority” became a label for many Asian populations in the US. But the truth behind this story of thriving Asian Americans is much more complicated. During World War II, the US government tried to “Americanize” incarcerated Japanese Americans. They did this through English language classes, patriotic exercises, and lessons on how to behave in white American society. When incarcerees were released, they were instructed to avoid returning to their own communities and cultural practices, and instead, integrate into white society. But after decades of anti-Asian policies and propaganda, white Americans had to be persuaded that Japanese Americans were no longer a threat. So the government organized media coverage to transform the public perception of Japanese Americans from suspected traitors to an American success story. In fact, the phrase “model minority” was coined by one such article from 1966. But this article, and others like it, didn’t just cast Asian Americans as an obedient and respectful “model minority." They also criticized so-called “problem minorities,” primarily Black Americans. Politicians who were threatened by the rising Civil Rights movement used this rhetoric to discredit Black Americans’ demands for justice and equality. They presented a fabricated story of Asian American success to paint struggling Black communities as inferior. This narrative put a wedge between Black and Asian Americans. It erased their shared history of fighting oppression alongside other marginalized groups, and pit the two communities against each other. In doing so, the model minority myth also enforced a racial hierarchy, with white Americans on top and everyone else underneath. Certainly, many people who still believe the model minority stereotype, either consciously or unconsciously, might not agree with that idea. But comparing the imagined strengths and weaknesses of racial groups places value on how well those groups meet certain standards— typically, standards set by a white majority. In this case, the model minority stereotype suggests that marginalized groups who are compliant, gentle, and respectful of white authority are deserving of tolerance, while groups that challenge the status quo are not. This stereotype also negatively impacts the Asian individuals it describes. According to a psychological phenomenon known as stereotype threat, members of a group often place pressure on their individual actions to avoid encouraging negative group stereotypes. But this phenomenon can occur around seemingly positive stereotypes as well. The pressure associated with living up to impossibly high standards can lead to poor performance. And teachers are less likely to notice when Asian students are struggling. Outside the classroom, social programs catering to Asian communities are frequently overlooked or cut, because they’re assumed to need less support than other disadvantaged groups. The favorable portrait created by this stereotype can also make it harder to recognize racially motivated violence and discrimination against Asian Americans. And since this stereotype carelessly groups all Asians under the same umbrella, it impacts people with various backgrounds and unique histories of discrimination. So while the model minority label might appear to benefit Asian populations at first, in practice, it works like every other racial stereotype. It reduces a group of people to a one-dimensional image. And that single image hinders our ability to understand the history, struggles, and triumphs of the individuals within that group. Acknowledging and challenging these labels is essential for building coalitions across communities and eliminating harmful stereotypes for good.