Tag Archives: the model minority myth

Tumblr Q&A: Prejudice and “Model Minorities”

Q: I have a question about your opinion that POC can’t be racist by definition. Would you say that, since it appears in history that white people categorized POC in their own hierarchy, hypothetically a POC could in fact reinforce racism if they were seen as better than another race by whites in history, such as a Hispanic person towards a black person? I also know of racism between cultures that involve no white people whatsoever, such as Japan/Korea hate. How do you view that?

A: I would say no, because even in instances where there are “model minorities” (usually broadly and incorrectly assumed to refer to all “Asian” peoples, when it actually refers to light skinned Japanese and Chinese folks) that make certain groups seem “closer” to whiteness because of their coloring, “shared values,” and “work ethic,” these “minorities” do not achieve whiteness. The meaning is hidden in the phrase itself: Whose model is it? And if these folks are so close to “being white” then why are they still referred to as “minorities”? The language still positions these folks beneath the constructed non-minority status of whiteness. Whether you’re talking about Latin@s over Blacks or “Asians” over both, none of them are considered to be at the same social level as whites.

If you got to this page of the blog and scroll down, you can see three Anon asks that relate specifically to Japan and Korea, and my answers. Folks with white skin, although we seem to love to do this, can’t remove Japan and Korea from a larger context of global white supremacy, capitalism, and neocolonialism. Meaning, these two countries are already implicated in global hierarchies of race. When racism and white supremacy have already existed for hundreds of years, I can’t act as if Japan and Korea are completely unrelated to these phenomena and pretend they are isolated from the rest of the planet. Japan might have issues with Korea, and their government might even claim their people are better or racially superior to Korean people, but are the Japanese claiming they are superior to every other race on the planet? The Japanese government may have practiced, ordered, and supported colonization of Korea, but did this government also then attempt and succeed in colonizing the rest of the human beings on the planet to enforce Japanese customs? There is prejudice, there is hatred, there are conflicts, there are atrocities, everywhere—that doesn’t mean all of them qualify equally as racism.

—DD

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