The Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority

The Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority
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Ronald Takaki

Asian Americans have increasingly come to be viewed as a “ model minority.” But are they as successfully as claimed? And for whom are they supposed to be a model? Asian Americans have been described in the media as “excessively, even provocatively” successful in gaining admission to universities. Asian American shopkeepers have been congratulated, as well as criticized, for their ubiquity 随意的) ( and entrepreneurial effectiveness. If Asian Americans can make it, many politicians and publicans and pundits ask, why can’t African Americans? Such comparisons pit minorities against each other and generate African American resentment toward Asian Americans. The victims are blamed for their plight, rather than racism(种族歧视) and an economy that has made many young African workers superfluous(过多的). The celebration of Asian Americans has obscured(模糊不清)reality. For example, figures on the high earnings of Asian Americans relative to Caucasians are misleading. Most Asian Americans live in California, Hawaii, and New York --- states with higher incomes and higher costs of living than the national average. Even Japanese Americans, often touted(吹捧) for their upward mobility(流 动的), have not reached equality. While Japanese American men in California earned an average income comparable to Caucasian men in 1980, they did so only by acquiring more education and working more hours. Comparing family incomes is even more deceptive(欺骗). Some Asian American groups do have higher family incomes than Caucasians. But they have more workers per family. The “ model minority” image homogenizes(使类同) Asian Americans and hides their differences. For example, while thousands of Vietnamese(越南人) American young people attend universities, others are on the streets. They live in motels(汽车旅馆) and hand out in pool halls in places like East Los Angeles; some join gangs. Twenty-five percent of the people in New York City’s Chinatown lived below the poverty level in 1980. compared with 17 percent of the city’s population. Some 60 percent of the workers in the Chinatowns of Los Angles and San Francisco are crowed into low-paying jobs in garment(服装) factories and restaurants. “Most immigrants coming into Chinatown with a language barrier cannot go outside this confined(有限的) area into the mainstream(主流) of American industry,” a Chinese immigrant said. “before, I was a painter in Hong Kong, but I can’t do it here. I got no license, no education. I want a living; so it’s dishwasher, janitor(看门人), or cook.”

Hmong and Mien refugees(难民) from Laos have unemployment rates that reach as high as 80 percent. A 1987 California study showed that three out of ten Southeast Asian refugee families had been on welfare for four to ten years. Al

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