The Model Minority

I am Asian-American and an immigrant. While I was in graduate school, a few colleagues and I were discussing race and class issues. I made a remark about what it is like to be a minority and one of my colleagues said, “You aren’t really a minority. You are like a white person in yellow skin.” After getting my first academic job, I talked to the chair of my department regarding whether I constituted a minority hire. He said Asians are not a minority. I did a quick survey of my University (a large state school) identifying  4 tenured and tenure-track faculty members in the humanities and mathematics (out of a pool of over a hundred). Still, the fact that there were few Asians among tenured and tenure-track faculty members did not convince him. Indeed, the chair looked at me and said, “But, Asians are so successful.” In a wave of a hand, he dismissed all the racism I experienced and all the social injustices that many Asians endure.

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