53 Guild Prac. 35 (1996)
Beyond the Model Minority Myth: Why Asian Americans Support Affirmative Action

handle is hein.journals/guild53 and id is 46 raw text is: THEODORE HSIEN WANG
AND FRANK WU
BEYOND THE MODEL MINORITY
MYTH: WHY ASIAN AMERICANS
SUPPORT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
One of the increasingly prominent fallacies in the attacks
on affirmative action is that Asian Americans somehow are the
example that defeats the rationale for race-conscious remedial
programs.' House Speaker Newt Gingrich and California
Governor Pete Wilson are two of the many political leaders
who point to Asian Americans and their supposed success to
assert that affirmative action is not needed.2 Their views present
the latest reincarnation of the model minority myth.
No matter how frequently and thoroughly the model
minority image is debunked, it returns as a troublesome
stereotype in race relations. According to this popular portrayal
of an entire race, Asian Americans have achieved economic
success through a combination of talent, hard work, and
conservative values, and not through government entitlements,
racial preferences, or complaints of discrimination. Through the
image, which can be seen everywhere from magazine articles
to popular movies, Asian Americans are depicted as champion
entrepreneurs and collegiate whiz kids, the immigrant parents
working as urban green grocers as their American children win
graduate awards such as the annual Westinghouse science talent
search.
Contrary to the popular perception, Asian Americans
remain underrepresented in many areas and also continue to
experience discrimination. Most often, Asian Americans are
treated as if they were all foreigners getting ahead by unfair
competition. They face a glass ceiling that allows them to
progress only up to a point. Furthermore, opponents of
affirmative action -- including some Asian Americans -- forget
that Asian Americans have benefitted greatly from the Civil
Rights Movement.
Theodore Hsien Wang is a staff attorney with the Lawyers
Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, California.
Frank Wu is an Assistant Professor of Law at Howard
University.

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