The notion that Asian Americans are model minorities originated in the 1960s, mainly in reference to the socioeconomic gains of Japanese and Chinese Americans in particular. It did not take long, however, for that very idea to be applied to Asian Americans as a whole, especially as it continues to be perpetuated by the mainstream media. The claim is that Asian Americans (like Cubans and Jews), because of the wealth they’ve attained in America, have transcended racism and the social obstacles they have historically encountered and thus can serve as exemplars of progress for other minorities.
It goes without saying that this narrative easily obscures the willful, systemic and intricate nature of American racism: it’s a quick and false reference for those who want to argue that the social decline and regress of other minority groups are self-incurred and that opportunities for socio-economic progress is guaranteed for, if not awaits, all communities that play by the rules. According to this logic, if America is to be multicultural, it is to be multicultural without subverting the dominant socio-economic logic and realities of American culture.