Refuting the Model Minority Myth: Asian American Social Media Activism

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Social media has become a significant aspect of many peoples’ day-to-day life and has notably emerged as one of the crucial ways in which people participate in political activism and advocacy today. This is a significant moment in the research because the summer of 2020 provided the unique conditions under which activists utilized social media as a key part of their political participation. Asian Americans have historically combatted the ‘Model Minority myth’, the stereotypical idea that Asian Americans have achieved greater socioeconomic success than other minority groups because they are hardworking, intelligent, and apolitical. Drawing on the fields of Asian American studies and Social Media studies, this project asks how Asian Americans undermine the ‘Model Minority’ by participating in activism through social media. I analyzed 18 Twitter posts and 16 Instagram posts ranging from January 8, 2021, to February 14, 2021. On Twitter, I utilized the search function to track hashtags, keywords, and phrases. On Instagram, due to the lack of chronological organization, many of the collected posts were generated on the explore page based on my previous engagement with similar hashtags, accounts, or infographics. Twitter is heavily text-based, while Instagram is image-based, and as such, requires different methods of analysis. A limitation of the research is that the analysis focused primarily on looking outward to see how Asian Americans advocate for other minority communities rather than inward to how the Asian American community advocates for itself. In the wake of the steep rise of anti-Asian American hate crimes since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a significant weakness in the research.

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