The model minority stereotype arose in the 50s and 60s, a complete turn from the Asian exclusion that marked American stances on Asian immigration, integration, and assimilation throughout US history. America’s rise to a global superpower, changes in immigration policy, and the ideological conflicts of the Civil Rights Movement brought the model minority stereotype into prominence at the same time. The stereotype was weaponized to uphold white supremacy and counter social change.
Dr. Ellen Wu, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Asian American Studies program at Indiana University, argues that the stereotype continues to uphold white supremacy, hindering our ability to address social and economic issues plaguing the Asian community. The stereotype also limits our ability to address anti-Blackness by ignoring the diversity of the Asian American experience and delegitimizing Black demands for societal change.
Dr. Wu’s book, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority Myth, analyzes this stereotype in-depth and is a point of reference throughout this interview.