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In Affirmative Action Debate, Familiar Model Minority Rhetoric

In California’s current debates over affirmative action, we see a familiar deployment of the model minority myth as a tool for division and competition between groups of color. Worst of all, we see this rhetoric coming from members and supposed representatives of the Asian American (and specifically, Chinese American) community themselves.


Conservative Asian American organizations and individuals not only create pernicious and non-productive divisions between people of color (as well as perpetuate negative stereotypes of Asian Americans as “wannabe whites”), they obscure the lived experiences of marginalized communities within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities who would benefit from the re-implementation of affirmative action in California. 

These conservative Asian American groups are the EXCEPTION TO THE RULE. They DO NOT speak for us. Polls have shown that 75% of Asian Americans support affirmative action legislation. As progressive Asian Pacific Americans, we must raise our voices in support of affirmative action, and policies that seek equity for all people of color.

For a more extensive analysis of the current affirmative action debate within California’s Asian American community, see this thoughtful piece from Colorlines. 

“If our oppression is linked, so must be our liberation.”

*Cross-posted from the Asian Pacific American Student Collective.


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