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model minority or minority model (denial of privilege?) June 10, 2008

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Rants, Reflections.
Tags: ,

A report was released today regarding the state of Asian Americans in Academia as reported in the New York Times. It has this quote: 

“The report quotes the opening to W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1903 classic “The Souls of Black Folk” — ‘How does it feel to be a problem?’ — and says that for Asian-Americans, seen as the “good minority that seeks advancement through quiet diligence in study and work and by not making waves,” the question is, ‘How does it feel to be a solution?'”

I haven’t read the report but I will do my best to chime in with what I read from the NYT article. It is reminds of my a post I wrote regarding the reality of the disparity between the Asian American and African American communities. I have to express my concern that there is always a tendency among the Asian American community to be centric and not recognizing how some of our privilege is very real. I am not denying that there are challenges in the community. I served in the Chinese immigrant communities for close to a decade and I have some tragic moments. But I confess I had a handful of times I have had to visit an incarcerated person, or deal with systemic drug addiction, prevalent homicides, and/or the gravity of hopelessness. But I have seen the overwhelming number of families where domestic violence was rampant, I have known that the massage parlors in Chinatown were prostitution dens, I have wept with families who were ravaged by the damage of gambling addiction, the physical abuse of the elderly, and/or the way so many of our young people are driven to suicide from the weight of expectations. I don’t deny the reality of our communal pain but we often create this claim of “victim” without really exercising our own discernment of what are true problems. There is a distinction between “unjust” versus “oppressed.” Not being able to get into Princeton is “unjust” but living in communities structured towards violence and death is “oppressed.” 

Some people are going to criticize this and saying that this is just another notion of shame that seem to drive Asian American culture…we don’t want to express the shame in our communities. But I have to say, it is not that I have a “shame” issue but I have a reality issue. I have an issue that our call to seek what is true and what is just. I just want to be honest with what is before us. 

In the work of Christian pilgrimage is one of oneness with others and to see with spiritual eyes. My hope is that we are in community with other minorities to restore the the sacred notion that we are all created in God’s image with the potential of worship and great value. That Christ is bridging the rich, the middle class and the poor. To have the church be a reflection of that mutuality of sharing lives, resources, gifts and privilege. What if we engaged in our stories to tie it together in the larger story of redemption. To restore the things that divide us. I suspect that we would recapture a deeper sense of our humanity. Inwardly we will find that our communities are beautiful distinct but outwardly expressed I believe we will find that we are in desperate need of each other. 




1. Daniel K. Eng - June 28, 2008

It is within the framework of the body of Christ that we begin to see that God has lovingly created diversity–not just in race, but in culture, customs, and wealth.

Unity does not mean uniformity. The diversity in the kingdom of God promotes genuine reconciliation, benevolent inter-dependence, and ultimately, more glory to God.

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