What is the myth of the Model Minority?
The “Model Minority” is the concept that Asian Americans do as they are told. They are passive, and they work without complaint. They blend in with the crowd, accepting the stereotypes and molding into the society America created. This is the concept that all Asians are successful, more so over their Black neighbors.
According to New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan, Asians and Jews have fought through diversity and racism and ended on top of the food chain, taking up the majority of wealthy and successful Americans. While this rhetoric has been pushed for so long, it was later proven that Asian Americans actually take up one of the largest percentages of poverty-stricken homes in New York. So much for beating diversity, right? Along with attributing our success to the number of two-parent households in Asian communities, no article by a non-Asian seems to consider that culture and success do not coincide and that while we may maintain our households, it does not necessarily guarantee wealth, nor does it rid us of the risk for experiencing racism all our lives.
Growing up in the suburbs of New York, I never knew racism. I never acknowledged the difference in skin between me and my childhood friends. A small Asian girl being watched by a Puerto Rican woman and her daughter until the age of five and then by a Black family until the age of seven. I never knew what it was to experience being isolated because of my skin until I got older and met the Model Minority myth. I moved to Virginia, noticeably more south than New York. This is where the jokes started – from the harmful jokes about how I should be good at math (a stereotype I still don’t truly understand) to the gestures about my eye shape. I thought it was child’s play. I never expected it to turn into a weapon against my heritage that had nothing to do with anyone but myself.
LumiScript has featured Alan Z in the past – the Asian American rapper emerging from Atlanta, Georgia, is no stranger to speaking out against the problems he’s faced on his road to becoming a household name in the hip-hop community.
In the wake of COVID-19 when we started to see Asian hate crimes – but not through the media, through our own sources and methods of social media. Alan didn’t hold back when it came to collaborating with Black artists to spread the word that the tension between our communities did not need to exist. This is when America started to hear the phrase, “The Model Minority is a myth.”
So how are we as global voices making the change in the world we live in?
In the latest move to shift and break the ties that hold Asian Americans to the myth of being the perfect minority, hiding our struggles with racism and poverty in America, Alan Z and noted rapper and activist jason chu have made the big move in their latest collaborative work titled Face Value.
Between the two artists, Asian American history is being taught and spread over TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, but now it’s time to face the music and combine the talents of global Asian American artists to prove a point.
Asians and Asian Americans are not a monolith.
Face Value is more than just a music project. This is the bold move Asian Americans are making to shake the world and finally shatter the glass ceiling we have been held under for centuries. The “Model Minority” myth has been treated like a latent fire, slowly burning until artists let the blood boil. Now that the anger has made global headlines, it’s time to make history. This was the move to force the media and the deniers know we are not the enemy.
What do you think music has done to offer change in the Asian community?
Alan Z: I think music can provide restoration and healing during these hard times. It can also be used as a call to action, towards a solution. In my new album Face Value with jason chu, we use our music to tell Asian American history and experiences to humanize who we are and honor those who laid the foundations before us.
Once this collaboration is released, what kind of reaction do you hope to incite?
Alan Z: We hope that our Face Value album can help others understand more about Asian American history beyond the fact that the Chinese built the railroads in 1800s. There’s so much pain and trauma in our history in this country, which help contextualize the ignorance and violence we are facing today. Once you understand your past, you can unlock ways to create a better future.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, what kind of shift have you seen between the Hip-Hop community, knowing how diverse it is?
Alan Z: I think there was more room for substance. I definitely see more people ready and willing to listen to music with a message. I noticed that for myself last year, when I saw that many of my videos where I was rapping about social issues were going viral.
What is the end game with the movement to educate others and stop Asian hate for you? How do you want to see the world proceed?
Alan Z: I honestly just want to see the anti-Asian violence stop completely. Movement or not, I just want our people to be safe and no longer have a target on our backs. I think it’s great that we finally have organized groups, marches, and rallies, but the end goal I’d like to see is Asians being able to live peacefully worldwide. Sick of reading about Asian hate crimes everyday.
Is there something that has happened to you during the pandemic that pushed you to speak out?
Alan Z: I think it was just the influx of traumatic videos last year that flipped a switch in me. I wanted to use my platform to stand up for us and encourage others in the Asian community to take action. To fight for our people. To speak up and push back against ignorance. I’m seeing more and more Asian Americans doing that, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to end this cycle of violence against us soon.
Do you believe that the world will finally see the truth behind the Model Minority myth?
Alan Z: It’s hard to say, because of cognitive dissonance and the vast number of willfully ignorant people in the world. However, that doesn’t mean we should ever stop dispelling that myth. My first single with jason chu from our Face Value album was “Model Minority”, which features Dante Basco and dismantles the false ideology behind it. When we have access to knowledge and information about our identity and history. It’s going to take our collective effort to keep speaking about these harmful narratives, in order for the paradigm to shift and for us to finally break through to the masses on a mainstream level.
We are not the virus.
We are not all the same.
Asian Americans hail from many places, and we land in even more places globally. The fact that it’s taken us this long to speak out on our need for freedom and independence from the world pushing stereotypes on us that are seemingly harmless might be our only fault.
Singers like Sirena Yang, Neela, and Htet –
Rappers like Ruby Ibarra, Humble the Poet, Wise Bexley and Chow Mane –
Actors like Ronny Chieng, Bee Vang, and Dante Basco –
Artists and more familiar faces like AJ Rafael, Zeda Zhang –
We’re all ready to take a stand.
For more information and streaming guides for Face Value, click here.
You can stream Model Minority here!