No But Really, Where Are You FROM? : Asian American Students and the Model Minority Myth

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


This project investigates Asian American students and the model minority myth. It focuses on a wide range of data surrounding seven southern California Asian American undergraduate students. Their ethnicities range from British Indian American, Indian American, Filipino and Tongan, Japanese American, and half White and half Japanese American. Through extensive in depth interviews these students will give their perspective regarding the model minority myth and the effects it perpetuates. Such stereotypes concern singular focus on academics, specifically math and science, reserved personalities, the assumption of the forever foreigner, and assimilating well into American society only because of academic success. Much analysis on the myth states that it produces very harmful psychological consequences that remain unacknowledged because of how insidious the myth has been constructed. Such consequences involve depression, drug alcohol and sexual abuse, and low self esteem suffering from positive stereotype threat. These face to face interviews question respondents on how they believe others perceive them, how they perceive themselves, their familial educational history, academic interests, experiences with discrimination, if any, and how they feel regarding their culture as well as the model minority myth. Through these extensive interviews the outcomes have all resulted in experiences of discrimination, particularly with the stereotype of all Asian Americans forever being foreigners. However, though these respondents have experienced racism, they have not felt negatively affected by the model minority myth, which contributes to the whole argument that this is one of the most dangerous consequences. This is interesting to consider as future research requires if there is a correlation between the results of this data and the goal of the model minority myth in silencing its victims. Future research also requires the research question that is at stake here; what does Asian American even mean anymore when identities regarding race and even cultural ethnicity are always shifting? The model minority myth is indeed a myth. If we can ever hope to extinguish the oppression silenced on us Asian Americans we must recognize that we are being oppressed.


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