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The Modern Minority Myth - “Asians are smart”

By Jurin Katayama Flores

The Modern Minority Myth is a deceptive stereotype that leads us to believe that those from East Asian backgrounds are highly intelligent and financially successful. It perpetuates the narrative that since East Asians were able to be successful despite imposed racial barriers, it is the faults and own doing of other ethnic minorities that have led them to still experience poverty and discrimination. It negates the facts that ethnic groups have different histories and (lack of) privileges that were created by white-led, Western societies.

The results of the Modern Minority Myth are dangerous.

On one hand, the perspective that East Asians are academic, but quiet, leads to the education system failing to identify several students who are suffering from learning disabilities. Contrarily, and more crucially, the “success stories” of East Asians have led society to believe that institutions for racial equality have already been built, and therefore excuse Western countries from taking more actions against discrimination, bias, and prejudice.

This is the truth.

In the UK, the unemployment rate for Black people is much higher than Asians and White British (although Asians also hold a higher unemployment rate than White British), causing income inequality between different ethnic groups. Furthermore, White British students are three times more likely to achieve higher grades during A-levels than Black students - which could perhaps be due to the many privileges that more White British people receive, such as extra tuition, a non-working parent, and/or private schooling.

Although the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community must stand together in solidarity to achieve racial equality, the issues that each minority group face are different. While talking about BAME issues as a whole is important, I encourage everyone to evaluate the differences in barriers that every ethnic minority group face. By doing so, we would be able to create specific solutions that will help decrease racial inequality.

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