Professor Gary Mar
Philosophical Issues in Asian American Studies
|A stereotype is the imposition of an unfair depiction
of a particular group (usually defined by ethnicity, race,
class, or gender) resulting in the systematic disadvantage
of members of that group and/or members of an implicit
|1960s Civil Rights Movement
||The term "model minority" is first used in print in
the New York Times Magazine (Jan. 6, 1960) in
"Success Story: Japanese American Style" by
sociologist William Peterson. He argues that Japanese
culture with its family values and strong work ethic saved
Japanese from becoming a "problem minority."
A similar article using Chinese Americans appears in U.
S. News and World Report (Dec. 26, 1960).
||The "Model Minority" thesis is used to discredit
the Civil Rights movement. If one minority is singled
out as "model", then this implise other monorities
are not. The stereotype is used to pit one minority against
another using the mechanisms of "racist hate" and
|1970s U. S. loses Vietnam War. Southeast Asian
refugees take over American jobs. Japanese auto
industry muscles out Detroit.
|| Articles on model minorities have sidebars expressing
the white resentment of Asian American success.
||The "Model Minority" thesis used to accuse whites
of becoming soft. Whites are afraid of economic
competition with Asia.
|1980s Reaganonics and the "Winter of Civil
Rights". In 1984 Reagan cites that the median
household income for Asian Americans is higher than the
APAs $22,075 $42,250
Whites $20,840 $36,920
Can you think of why these
statistics are seriously misleading?
|Articles of model minorities such as Newsweek's
"The Drive to Excel" (April 1984) and Time's
"The New Whiz Kids" (August 1987) start to focus
on Asian American success in school.
All Asians are lumped together-- American Borns, older
immigrants, 1.5 generation immigrants, and refugees
displaced by social chaos.
|The "Model Minority" thesis is used to attack
Affirmative Action programs for minorities and other
advances of the Civil Rights period.
The "Model Minority" thesis is used to justify
SAT Scores 1992
|Articles on model minorities focus on entrepreneurial success
and start to include European and Latino immigrants.
The Washington Post (June 1992) publishes
"Myth of Model Minority Haunts Asian Americans:
Stereotype Eclipses Group's Problems."
Murray and Herrnstein publish The Bell Curve
(1994) which argues that Asian Americans and Jews are
genetically superior to African Americans.
|The "Model Minority"
thesis is used to accuse Americans of losing the
"hardworking immigrant spirit."
The "Model Minority" myth is exposed as a
social construct that denies many Asian Americans access to
much needed social services.
The "Model Minority" thesis is grounded
biologically or genetically ("ethnic
essentialism") and is used to rationaize racism in
standardized intelleigence tests
Analyzing the Statistics about the
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies,
-- Benjamin Disraeli
"Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary
for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and
-- H. G. Wells
. . . .
Based on the 1970
census President Reagan's statistics about the median income
of Asian Americans could be misleading because the 1970
census data was over generalized and inaccurate. Many
factors were overseen and left out, and the data was not
studied greatly in depth. The data concerning the
median income of Asian American families were clearly
misleading, due to three factors. What was discovered
was that, although the median income of Asian American
families was higher than that of white families, the median
income of individuals was found to be lower for Asians than
for whites. These three factors were excised from the
equation in the 1970 census, and they are as follows:
- There was a larger proportion of Asian
families in which both spouses worked than
among white families.
- Asian children remained with their families
longer and thereby contributed longer to
It is not until the 1980 census that scholars have come up
with more accurate data since more sophisticated studies
have been done on the census. Prior to the 1980
census, many more variables were left out as well.
- Asian families were larger on the average and,
therefore, had more earners contributing to
. .Asian Americans actually tend to be under compensated
in terms of the number of years that they have invested in
More importantly, Asian Americans are a heterogeneous
group. The median income does not give information
about the spread of incomes around the mean. Suppose,
for example, that the distribution of incomes is
bimodal. How would the average median income be
For those of you who want a good laugh, ask Grace Hsu to
look at her solution.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
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