When walking in the hallways of school as an Asian student, it’s not surprising to hear someone crack a joke about your “perfect” grades or something that has to do with you being the model student. It’s something most people just don’t care to notice because it’s nothing out of the ordinary. After all, jokes are more than common, and jokes about an Asian’s intelligence are just one of many racial and stereotype based jokes. Despite this, there are many serious issues with this “model minority” mindset that plagues Asian/Asian American students today.
Aside from countless other racial issues that the “model minority” affects, the idea of such a “model minority” also places a huge amount of pressure on many Asian students at school, proving harmful to many students’ mental health during their academic years. Throughout the course of high school and college, when tension about academics runs rampant among most students, its not uncommon for Asian students to experience mental breakdowns or suffer from high anxiety due to the extreme pressure placed on them. This can happen to students of all races and ethnicities, but for Asian students there’s a general expectation of top-notch grades that makes these events a higher possibility. Academic isolation is also a possibility thanks to the “model minority” stereotype. Having an image of a perfect student forced upon them often results in many Asian/Asian American students being unwilling to reach outwards for academic help, in fear of compromising the image they were assigned. While the stereotypes that come with the title of “model minority” seem like compliments, in reality they dismiss all the hard work people do and force an image upon them based solely on a factor of life they can’t control.
The “model minority” mindset also affects plenty of Asian/Asian American students at home. After all, stereotypes don’t come out of nowhere, and the conformation of Asian parents of such negative “model minority” stereotypes can have huge impacts on the children’s relationships with their parents and other aspects of family life. Grades are often seen as the link between a parent and their children in Asian/Asian American households, and oftentimes an Asian/Asian American child’s grades become the child’s entire identity in an effort to meet expectations, regardless of whose those are. This can easily veer into more dangerous territories like questioning self worth when failing to meet certain expectations, or even worse situations into depression and other mental health issues.
Of course “Asian/Asian American” encompasses a huge group of people who are all quite different, with many unique traits that they each possess. There are countless other issues surrounding the “model minority” concept and Asian/Asian American discrimination in general, but the damages that the “model minority” mindset cause many Asian/Asian American students should not be overlooked. People need to see what lies behind the facade of pretty compliments and stand up to this before the belief becomes fully cemented in the stones of the Asian American identity.