The myth of the “model minority” is pervasive. It does real damage. And Asian American students aren’t the only ones it harms.
When I was halfway through the 11th grade, my pre-calculus teacher pulled me out into the hallway. He wanted to talk about my latest test. “You can do better than this,” he said. “I’m so surprised by grades like this from someone like you.”
Someone like you? I’d never done particularly well in his class, so the implication of his words churned in my stomach. In that moment, I felt acutely the weight of the dark braid trailing down my back and the glasses slipping down my nose.
I knew my performance was being evaluated not against my own earlier work but against the image of the perfect, straight-A, Asian student who lived in my teacher’s mind: the myth of the “model minority.”
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