Assistant Professor Alexander Cho was recently interviewed for Megan Rose Dickey's piece Asian Americans in tech say they face ‘a unique flavor of oppression’ in Protocol magazine (April 1, 2021). From the article:
"This wave of anti-Asian violence and hate throughout the country has prompted some Asian Americans to reexamine the impact of the ‘model minority’ myth. Some see the stereotypes it embodies — that Asian Americans are hard-working, diligent, well-suited to STEM careers — as insidious tools that perpetuate racism and mask the myriad issues Asian Americans face in society as well as the workplace.
The phrase 'model minority' first emerged in a 1966 New York Times Magazine story. William Pettersen, its author and a sociologist, compares the experiences of Japanese Americans and Black Americans.
‘It was basically directly comparing these two populations to deny anti-Blackness, deny structural racism,’ Alexander Cho, an assistant professor of Asian American media studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told Protocol. ‘[It let people] say, Hey, well this minority group is getting ahead, why aren't you? There must be no such thing as racism if this minority group is getting ahead.
The myth suggests Asian Americans are more successful than other racially diverse groups ‘because of cultural or, even more insidiously, biological traits [attributed] to that group,’ said Cho. ‘It divorces all social context.’
It also perpetuates the stereotype that Asian Americans are passive, he added.
‘That they're assimilationists, not wanting to rock the boat and not challenge authority or have independent leadership skills or ideas,’ he said. ‘That's kind of the nefarious underside of it.’”
Thank you, Prof. Cho, for bringing light to this important issue of anti-Asian racism within the tech industry! Pictured below from the article: "Demonstrators hold up signs as they take part in an anti-Asian American hate march and rally at City Hall in San Francisco. Photo: Ray Chavez/Getty Images."