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National survey finds model minority myth still prevalent

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

A new study out today found perceptions of Asian Americans are still distorted by the model minority myth and may in fact lead to violence and scapegoating against them.

The new non-profit LAAUNCH, or Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change, surveyed more than 2,766 Americans ages 18 and older across the country.

Its survey found almost half of Americans believe Asian Americans are fairly or overrepresented in senior positions in companies. In reality, Asian Americans hold just 2.7% of these roles despite making up just under 6.8% of the nation’s population.

When asked to name a prominent Asian American, 42% responded “I don’t know.” 11% named Jackie Chan, although he is not American while 9% named actor and San Francisco native Bruce Lee who died in 1973.

Norman Chen, co-founder and CEO of LAAUNCH blames this lack of awareness on the model minority stereotype which depicts Asian Americans as smart and hardworking. He said while these stereotypes may appear benign on the surface, they can lead to scapegoating and violence against Asian Americans we’ve seen in the past year.

“That’s what hate crime research tells us,” Chen said in an interview with AsAmNews. “We’ve seen this in history. We were surprised not more national studies about stereotypes and Asian Americans have been done in the last 20 years. It’s important to have national survey to track scapegoating and violence.”

He also blamed longstanding negative stereotypes of Asian Americans as the yellow peril and being perceived as perpetual foreigners.

Chen said most troubling to him is that 37% of White Americans are unaware that racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans increased over the past year.

One out of four, 24%, believe anti-Asian racism isn’t a problem that should be addressed.

“These are very surprising and disturbing information that came out of the survey,” he said. “There’s a lack of awareness of our challenges and our struggles.”

Chen believes these findings point to the fact that Americans get their information from different news sources and social media which may not be accurately reflecting the realities about Asian Americans.

He said most people are familiar with Asian American food, but not about their customs, music, art and history in this country. He says that’s why AsAmNews and other ethnic media hold important roles in this country. He called AsAmNews a leader in this area.

He said LAAUNCH in a few months will announce a new initiative to get curriculum about Asian American history and culture in the middle and grammar schools.

He believes teachers are starved for more content and that more school districts are mandating that ethnic studies be taught in the classroom- making this a good time to unveil this project.

The survey also discovered 8 out of 10 Asian Americans say they are discriminated against and 77% do not feel respected.

“We’re focused on racism, representation and sharing resources for our community,” Chen said. “We’re trying to make a difference in the future of Asian Americans.

He says the LAAUNCH study is inspired by a similar one done for the Anti-Defamation League who have been doing their survey annually since 1964 tracking attitudes in this country about Jewish Americans.

He said LAAUNCH plans to do its study annually as well.

Chen believes many of the same issues facing Asian Americans also face Black Americans and Hispanic Americans and that its important to recognize this and to work with other communities together on solutions.

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