I, as an Indian man, have had my fill of 7-11 owner and call center scammer jokes, but I don’t exactly know where they come from. And so, in honor of Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Month, I’ll be looking at Asian stereotypes and where they come from.
The first stereotype that I will be talking about is the “high-achieving” stereotype that is assumed for the 6% of the U.S population that is made up of Asians. This stereotype (can also be called the Model Minority stereotype) is one of the most harmful stereotypes we see in our society, saying that Asians are always successful and well adapted to U.S society. It’s harmful because people use this stereotype to justify discrimination against Asian americans, like in the 1960s where politicians and so called “academics” used this to create divide among racial minorities and to downplay racism towards Asians, according to Richard Lee, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. “Elevating Asian Americans as a model minority essentially absolved white systems from taking real accountability for the inequities they’ve created,” he says.
And now, for the stereotype that states the complete opposite: the Fresh Off The Boat (FOB) stereotype. This stereotype shows Asian Americans as people who are, and will always be, a foreigner, not accustomed to American society at all. In a study conducted by Richard Lee, he and his colleagues had found that the effect of this kind of treatment lead to depression symptoms and low self-esteem in the Asian Americans who were being treated this way (Armenta, B.E., et al., Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2013). This stereotype essentially strips you of your sense of belonging and forever brands you an outsider, and of course, no one likes feeling like they don’t belong.
Asians face several more stereotypes than just these alone, and we can clearly see how detrimental it is to this amazing group of people just by analyzing 2 of the millions that they face. A change needs to be made in order to create a safe space for those who we share this world with, so Stop Asian Hate.