By Joelly Lucien
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, or AAPI Heritage Month for short, is observed in the United States during the month of May. Heritage months are periods within the year that are designated to celebrate the accomplishments of various ethnic and marginalized groups. And while Asian and Pacific Islanders have made innumerable contributions to the U.S. since the settlement of Saint Malo was established in 1763, if there was one heritage month to dial back on the celebration, it would be this month. Let me explain…
Jiyoung Lee-An and Xiaobei Chen described the Model Minority Myth as “prevailing stereotypes of Asians as hard-working, independent, intelligent and economically prosperous. But the stereotypes — while seemingly positive — hide many issues, including anti-Asian racism, poverty, labour abuse and psychological needs. It disappears the realities of working-class Asian women’s lives.” The consequences of these stereotypes are far-reaching and affect Asian American and Pacific Islanders everyday.
The Model Minority Myth lumps the AAPI community into a monolithic group. The truth is that the AAPI umbrella term includes 50 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages from China, Vietnam, Korea, India, Cambodia, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and many others.
Thai American and Chinese American Quincy Surasmith shared with CNBC, “by grouping all the Asian Americans together and assuming all of them will do well just because you’ve measured them as a group, you end up ignoring the people who might not fit into that”.
As reported by Jennifer Liu at CNBC, though some AAPI subpopulations are heavily concentrated in higher-wage professional and management jobs, others, particularly women, are heavily concentrated in lower-wage service, hospitality and caregiving occupations. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, members of 12 out of 19 Asian origin groups have poverty rates as high as or higher than the U.S. average.
Organizations should have diversity initiatives in place that respect the complexity of minority groups during the celebration of their heritage months.