By Jerry Jones, NEIPJC Blogger
Today, I will be dissecting the Asian stereotypes that have been constructed in contemporary American society.
The Asian body in contemporary America is glamorized yet is riddled with disparity in the shadows. Asian individuals are often referred to as the token minority. After all, Asian Americans do face less discrimination in housing, employment, and criminal justice (Discrimination in America, Harvard Opinion Research Program, 2018). Furthermore, Asian Americans are considered an ORM (OverRepresented Minority) in college admissions. Despite this stigmatization, Asian Americans face harsh discrimination in unique ways. Recently, the hate crimes that have impacted the Asian American community have displayed the surface-level discrimination Asian Americans face. Despite being a tokenized body, they remain in danger like any other minority. STOP ASIAN HATE has become a slogan for a country-wide movement that seeks to not only bring transparency to the discrimination Asian Americans endure but the physical danger they face.
I am not Asian American. Thus, I do not feel qualified to speak on how these stereotypes impact Asian Americans personally. What I can offer is a perspective from one minority group of another. Despite not being Asian, I did grow up in an Asian household. My step-mother was Lao, and I grew up attending her family events where Asian culture was prominent. During my years of growing up, I attended the Asian festival in Des Moines, Iowa. I did not belong to the culture, but I was immersed in it. I attended Weeks Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa. Weeks Middle School possesses the highest Asian population of all middle schools in Des Moines. I was caught in between blurred lines. Growing up, I existed between black culture and an Asian American one. Due to this unique position, I did observe some repercussions between the two communities due to the “Token Minority” notion.
I think it is vital in society moving forward that it is a necessity that this Asian American stigmatization of the token minority becomes deconstructed. Asian Americans face discrimination, which should not be discredited due to a perceived privilege. After all, Asian Americans are facing the same hate crimes as every other minority group. Studies do display some privilege, but this should not result in the division between races. The “Asian Privilege” is not free from gun violence. STOP ASIAN HATE is a concept that exists because the “token minority” endures the same obstacles as other minorities. Progress only occurs in a group effort. The discrimination within minority groups toward Asian Americans does not result in progress, it only tarnishes the effort. This myth of the “Model Minority” is a facade, which only exists to drive a wedge between races (Model Minority Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks, NPR, 2017).
Who am I to truly understand and advocate the discrimination Asian Americans face? What I can do is offer a unique perspective of what I have seen. This notion of the “Token Minority” is real. For progress to be made, the deconstruction of this idea must begin. Asian Americans face discrimination. This is reality. There is progress to be made in the equality that Asian Americans desire. A desire that is not only wanted but needed by every other minority.
Question: What stereotypes do you currently hold? Attempt to ask yourself deeply, both consciously and subconsciously the reality of what you think. We are not perfect individuals. The way individuals improve is by first acknowledging flaws, then attempting to work actively against them. Acknowledge any stereotypes you have and then work to deconstruct them with facts and experiences.
Meet the Blogger: Jerry Jones is a recent graduate of Luther College. Jerry triple majored in English, Philosophy, and Political Science, alongside a History minor. Despite being a first-generation minority, Jerry has continued to overcome obstacles that have propelled his success in education. Jerry’s hobbies include bodybuilding, non-fiction reading, & being a podcast junkie. At Luther, Jerry was a member of the football team which taught him some of the most influential life lessons. The one Jerry admires the most is the fortitude that the sport instilled into him. Jerry is currently serving in AmeriCorps at Iowa Legal Aid. Eventually, Jerry will pursue Law School. Jerry plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School to pursue Corporate Law.
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