Does history affect on how AAPI students are viewed in education?

By Kristy Tran

When people think about students, mostly Asian students, and how they are so successful, they tend to focus on what is in their “invisible box” of what they think of someone, which is stereotyping a person due to their ethnicity. Stereotyping an ethnicity such as AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) usually associates with the model minority myth. The model minority myth stereotypes and put Asian American-Pacific Islanders under one label as smart and a privilege race, “the MMM [model minority myth] is not simply a stereotype of self-sufficient, high-academic minority achievement. Instead, it is a much more insidious racial device used to uphold a global system of racial hierarchies and White supremacy (Poon 2016).”

As mentioned earlier, that stereotyping Asian Americans as the model minority myth upholds a racial hierarchies and White supremacy which is the main cause of how Asian Americans are viewed in education. Since Asian Americans, are in fact pan-Asian, come from different countries and many backgrounds, they experience life differently, but White Americans view Asians as one racial group while discrediting their differences within their ethnicity and history. According to Coloma, “the schooling of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can be analyze within the historical contexts of their particular positions within US ‘racial formations’ (Omi & Winant, 1994). In other words, how they are educated depends on their varying status as immigrants, citizens, aliens, colonized nationals, refugees, and racialized minorities (Coloma 2006).” In result, Asian Americans who are placed in different classes due to how they came to America or how their country was treated by the United States, consequently provides them all sorts of opportunities and resources that are available to them. How each Asian American ethnic group is viewed by White Americans it restrains Asian Americans to be stereotype and judge in education system as the model minority myth, even though it doesn’t apply to every Asian American.  

Many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are position in certain hierarchy in the United States socioeconomic system, which leads AAPI into different educational system which is control by the White supremacy. The government does in fact creates policies and to discriminate certain students of color who aren’t white, “legal and government records also reveal that AAPIs suffered from White supremacist and racially discriminatory policies in the educational system. Even AAPIs who were born in the USA were not afforded their rights as US citizens (Coloma 2006).” Asian Americans are treated unfairly because they are being discriminated by the White supremacist and leads Asian Americans who are unfortunate to be treated poorly than those who are wealthier and viewed as the model minority. Though the term is used for the Asian American community, but the matter of fact is that the term “model minority” is directed to those Asian Americans who are more fortunate and are able to get their hands on more resources such as the Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese compared to the Southeast Asians.

Whether Asian Americans are seen as the so called positive connotation of the model minority myth race, there’s still a large unfair treatment of Asian Americans. Asian Americans are viewed in White Americans as one ethnic group instead of identifying that it is in fact pan Asian and they struggle with all sorts of differences within today’s society. Many AAPI are struggling to be perceived at a different light and not have to uphold the stereotype of the model minority myth in education. Though the term model minority myth may seem harmless, it is in fact one thing Asian American struggle with.

Coloma, Roland. 2006. “Disorienting Race and Education: Changing paradigms on the Schooling of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Race, Ethnicity and Education 9(1), 1-15. 

Omi, M. & Winant, H. (1994) Racial formation in the United States: from the 1960s to the 1990s (2nd edn) (New York, Routledge).
Poon, Oiyan et al. 2016. “A Critical Review of the Model Minority Myth in Selected Literature on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Higher Education.” Review of Educational Research 86(2): 469-502.



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