Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview

16
Major Issues Relating to Asian
American Experiences

PYONG GAP MIN

This chapter introduces major issues relating to Asian American experiences. Some are practical issues with policy implications, such as anti-Asian violence. Other issues concern Asian American experiences that have both theoretical and practical implications. For example, Asian Americans' degree of socioeconomic success is a question of interpretation, using a particular theoretical perspective, as much as a practical question concerning the economic well-being of Asian Americans. Therefore, whenever necessary, I will introduce a theoretical orientation useful for understanding the issue under consideration.

Depending on our ideological and/or theoretical position, we have different views about which issues are important to the experiences of Asian Americans. [This chapter] emphasizes structural factors such as institutional barriers, discrimination, and disadvantages facing Asian Americans, rather than the cultural mechanisms employed for their successful adjustment. This structural approach and the related theoretical perspectives have largely determined which issues concerning Asian Americans are presented in this chapter.

In the 1970s, the U.S. media and many scholars portrayed Asian Americans as successful minority groups that overcame disadvantages through hard work, family ties, and emphasis on children's education. Largely in reaction to this "model minority" thesis, Asian American scholars began to emphasize the structural barriers facing Asian Americans. The revisionist critique of the model minority thesis currently has a powerful influence in Asian American scholarship. The attack on the model minority thesis is not limited to academic research. Activists, social workers in Asian American communities, Asian American faculty members, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have also expressed concerns about the negative consequences of the success image. This chapter will introduce many issues that revisionist critics of the model minority thesis consider important.

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Bibliographic references have been deleted unless they are associated with direct quotations.

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