The PCC Freeman Center Diversity career panel tackled the Model Minority Myth on Friday by addressing racism towards the AAPI community and urging students to define their own success.
Panelist Jade Chan, PCC alumni and current diversity and inclusion program manager at Amazon said that growing up she did not have many resources available to her regarding Asian American History. As a Taiwanese American, she was born and raised in Chinatown and Lincoln Heights and said that she first learned about the Model Minority Myth during her masters program in college.
“A stereotype that says all Asians are monolithic, they’re all successful, they’re all nerdy and they all have a singular story,” Jade said of the myth.
Each panelist spoke about how they learned about and overcame the myth centered around what success was expected to look like for them and their community.
“I’m actually thankful for my career center and for my program that actually helped me see and put a definition behind what a model minority myth is and what that looks like in the real world,” said panelist Ann Atienza, a post-secondary program coordinator at Summer Search in Boston. “So that I can address those things and say ‘hey that doesn’t have to be me.’”
For panelist Darrin Nguyen, a project manager at Cloud Imperium Games, the definition of success changed very quickly for him recently.
“Money isn’t everything. My role doesn’t really make or break it for me when it comes to how I want to live my life,” Nguyen said.
Chan highlighted the negative effects of the stereotype and how it not only hurts the AAPI community but other communities as well. She said that comparing the AAPI community with others has been used to “weaponize” the stereotype.
Chan also encourages all students to learn their history as well as the history of other communities.
Kenneth Xu, a student at PCC and an attendee of the panel said that his educational background consisted of eastern philosophy that was dominated by Confucianism. Ethnic study was a new concept for him, but he believes it is important for students to have the knowledge regarding the differences in cultures.
“I do think it’s necessary and essential to have ethnic study or courses as required general education classes for students to embrace the real meaning of diversity and seeing difference in themselves in a tone of empathy,” said Xu.
The panelists also discussed their views on the hate crimes that the AAPI community has been experiencing, with Chan and Atienza urging the students to not only advocate for their own community but for all the communities that are underrepresented.
“It’s not just about going to the margins and wanting to make a change. It’s about understanding what everyone goes through, so that you can advocate for them properly,” said Atienza.
Xu said he thinks that the campus should implement as well as encourage a “guided critical thinking strategy approaching racism” so that in the future students can proceed towards a legislation that is more equipped to prove racial motivation.
“Silence doesn’t work in this society,” Xu said, pointing out how American cultural values vocalism. “Enough is enough. We can’t wait to be important.”
Chan encouraged students to speak out in support of positive change.
“Know the power of your own voice,” said Chan.
Panelists encouraged students to be courageous and to not let the injustices the community has been experiencing turn into hate. Instead, they urged students to turn their grief into love.