While I do not know how to precisely weigh the various factors, such as cultural differences and legacies of oppression, selective immigration and institutional racism, in answering the question of why certain subgroups experience higher levels of success than others, it is beyond dispute that culture matters. Wilfred Reilly asserts “an especially important cultural variable…is the presence of a father in a child’s life….“Children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to be involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.”
The term “model minority” refers to minority groups that have ostensibly achieved high levels of success in contemporary society. As part of their effort to deny cultural explanations for why there’s disparity in the world, woke prohibitionists have done everything in their power to discredit “model minority” theory. By citing the success of “white adjacent” Asians and Latino groups, the woke argument goes, people who promote the model minority myth are engaging in a form of anti-Blackness.
What the woke prohibitionists are really saying is that it is illegitimate to make cultural arguments that some immigrant communities have done better than others because of certain cultural attributes. Liberals who care about the future of liberal discourse must insist on the ability to make cultural arguments, which includes examining the successes and failures of various minority groups in the West.
None other than Spike Lee took up the theme of “model minority” in his 1989 film “Do the Right Thing,” in a scene depicting three older black men in Brooklyn discussing a successful Korean-owned store in their neighborhood….
“Do the Right Thing” hints at how Spike Lee himself might have struggled with such perplexing, thorny issues. Like the rest of the film, the scene raised questions but offered no answers.
It has become much harder to speak of the success of various minority groups in the past 30 years since Lee made the film. Kat Chow argues in NPR that “At the root of…(this) pernicious argument is the idea that black failure and Asian success cannot be explained by inequities and racism, and that they are one and the same; this allows a segment of white America to avoid any responsibility for addressing racism or the damage it continues to inflict.”
Janelle Wong, the director of Asian American Studies at the University of Maryland, argued that model minority involves “1) ignoring the role that selective recruitment of highly educated Asian immigrants has played in Asian American success followed by 2) making a flawed comparison between Asian Americans and other groups, particularly Black Americans, to argue that racism, including more than two centuries of black enslavement, can be overcome by hard work and strong family values.”
Duke University sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva takes it a step further, arguing that to maintain white supremacy, whites will allow certain Asian and Latin American groups to become honorary whites and succeed, so they can ally with them to oppress blacks and other, generally darker-skinned Asian and Latin Americans. How precisely this happens he never explained. Apparently the forces of white supremacy work in mysterious ways.
The contention that relative Asian American success can be explained away as selective immigration or white adjacency does not hold water.
Read More on this topic here.