Millennial and Gen-Z Asian Americans are more likely to speak out against violence and racism than their parents or grandparents, whose generations have held closely to the perceived safety of the “model minority.” That title was given to Asian Americans in the mid-1960s by politicians who wanted to encourage division among minority groups and silence the civil rights movement.
Asian Americans did not deny their new title. It gave them a sense of acceptance and perceived “safety” in an America that initially rejected them – that is, safety in White approval and proximity to the “norm.” However, the model minority myth was perpetuated with inaccurate data, and it continues to erase the experiences of Asian Americans.
Perhaps older generations of Asian Americans equate vocal discontent, anger, and frustration, with “outing” themselves as a vulnerable population.
I came across this op-ed written by Andrew Yang this time last year (April 1st), encouraging Asian Americans to “prove” their patriotism as a means of pushing against racism. I’m not sure what Yang’s intentions were, but I do know this: having to prove your worth fuels a perpetual foreignness.
At what point will I not be expected to prove my Americanness? Will my children (first-generation) face the same expectations? Will their children (second-generation)?
It reminds me of the American flag my parents have flying from our front porch, a silent symbol that my South Asian family and I are “safe” neighbors.