Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Images & Realities: More on the impact of the "Model Minority" Myth

Expand Messages
  • multiracialbookclub
    ***************************************************************** The image of being a model minority masks the struggles of those who fail to fit the mold
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 14, 2005
      The image of being a 'model minority' masks
      the struggles of those who fail to fit the mold

      By Isaac Kim, © 2004 Newsday, May 13, 2004

      If you ever walk by the Burger King on the corner of Main Street
      and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, you have probably seen them
      there - a group of Asian kids with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

      Every day, from dawn to dusk, you can expect to see at least
      one teenager perched on the base of the storefront window.

      One loiterer, John, a 16-year-old student, said recently,
      "There is nothing better to do.
      We come here to hang with our friends".

      This is their refuge.
      Here, they can pass time without spending
      a lot of money they don't have.
      They can share a small drink with unlimited
      refills and buy some snacks at a dollar apiece.
      Some bring a deck of cards; others take a cigarette
      outside; and others wait patiently for the weed
      dealer in order to buy a $20 bag of marijuana.

      These Asian kids shatter the myth of the "model minority".

      The label stems, for the most part, from the stereotypical
      academic prowess of Asian students and the financial
      success of their parents' flourishing small businesses.

      Go to almost any small grocery, dry cleaner or
      nail salon in New York and you will surely see
      an Asian, usually a Korean, behind the counter.

      And everywhere you look it seems there's a Chinese restaurant.

      And don't you remember that Asian math wiz in your algebra class?

      But how can so many successful immigrants produce any social outcasts?

      First, financial and academic success doesn't
      necessarily translate into social success.

      Many of these parents lack a basic understanding of
      English and American culture and are unable to
      relate to and guide their "lost" children.

      And these parents' Confucian ideals of self-deprecation and silent
      obedience don't ring true for their American-born children,
      who must assert themselves for their share of America's pie.

      America seems to be oblivious to this problem; all we want to see
      is a hard-working group of immigrants who keep to themselves.

      We have overlooked these kids on the fringe because
      they were never expected to make noise; they were
      supposedly a cut above the swaths of problematic youth ...

      But these Asian youth are not much different.

      If you look at the statistics, the myth of
      the "model minority" shatters some more.

      According to the last Census, the Asian community's
      perceived economic success is only a facade ----
      a higher percentage of Asians live below the poverty line than
      the population as a whole (14 percent compared to 13 percent).

      Asians are also twice as likely to be poor as compared to whites.

      And not all Asian kids are academic marvels.

      The Board of Education reports that 24 percent of
      Asian Americans over 25 do not have a high school degree
      and 33 percent of Asian students in public high schools
      either drop out or do not graduate on time.

      And every minute, one Asian student gets suspended.

      These kids are caught in limbo between
      their clean image and their harsh reality.

      And the ones in front of Burger King fall further into the cracks,
      getting stuck in a web of gangs, drugs and sex, which easily
      snares the youth who have no idea where to go or what to do.

      What these kids do know is that home is not the place to be.

      It is because at home no one is there.

      Their parents are usually working 10-14 hour shifts, seven days
      a week in order to keep up with the merciless pace of city life.

      And those fortunate Asian parents who can afford to
      be home are usually fighting, venting the pent-up
      stress from work and culture shock.

      It is no wonder then that domestic violence has been
      a growing problem for these Asian communities.

      It is also no wonder that these children don't want to be home.

      So with no place to call their own and nothing to do,
      these forlorn kids congregate in pool halls, karaoke
      rooms and other cheap places of refuge like the
      Burger King in the middle of downtown Flushing.

      "Many Asian youths are failing due to generational conflicts,
      maladjustment to the New World, cultural and language barriers,
      and a general lack of direction in their lives," says Joshua Kim,
      director of New Vision Youth Services,
      a nonprofit youth outreach program in Queens".
      Over the years, I have seen as many Asian dropouts, drug
      and sexual abuse victims, and sufferers of mental trauma ...".

      These Asian kids should be building on
      the success of their hard-working parents.

      In a land of opportunities, we have not come to understand the
      deep implications of vast cultural and language differences.

      New York has overlooked these kids on the fringe
      because they were never expected to cause a ruckus;
      they were supposedly a cut above the others.

      They were supposed to carry on and live a quiet life.

      But these Asian youth are not much different
      from any other struggling minority.

      So go take a walk on the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt
      Avenue, and take a good look at our country's "model minority".

      It's about time that we confront their gritty reality and find a
      way for these lost kids to proudly bear their given name.

      (Isaac Kim is a senior at Columbia University
      and lives in Flushing / Queens , New York)


      Related Links:

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.