How the model minority myth is deployed

Andrew Sullivan had a piece for New York magazine yesterday that set my Twitter timeline on fire. In discussing United’s recent dragging of an innocent Asian man off a flight, Sullivan wrote this:

Do you know the real reason Dr. Dao was so brutally tackled and thrown off that United flight? It was all about white supremacy. I mean, what isn’t these days? That idea is from the New Republic. Yes, the cops “seemed” to be African-American, as the author concedes, so the white-versus-minority paradigm is a little off. Yes, this has happened before to many people with no discernible racial or gender pattern. Yes, there is an obvious alternative explanation: The seats from which passengers were forcibly removed were randomly assigned. New York published a similar piece, which argued that the incident was just another example of Trump’s border-and-immigration-enforcement policies toward suspected illegal immigrants of color. That no federal cops were involved and there is no actual evidence at all of police harassment of Asian-Americans is irrelevant — it’s all racism, all the time, everywhere in everything.

It’s easy to mock this reductionism, I know, but it reflects something a little deeper. Asian-Americans, like Jews, are indeed a problem for the “social-justice” brigade. I mean, how on earth have both ethnic groups done so well in such a profoundly racist society? How have bigoted white people allowed these minorities to do so well — even to the point of earning more, on average, than whites? Asian-Americans, for example, have been subject to some of the most brutal oppression, racial hatred, and open discrimination over the years. In the late 19th century, as most worked in hard labor, they were subject to lynchings and violence across the American West and laws that prohibited their employment. They were banned from immigrating to the U.S. in 1924. Japanese-American citizens were forced into internment camps during the Second World War, and subjected to hideous, racist propaganda after Pearl Harbor. Yet, today, Asian-Americans are among the most prosperous, well-educated, and successful ethnic groups in America. What gives? It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it? It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?

Sullivan has often made controversial statements about race, like when he repudiated Black Lives Matter, but now he’s bringing the status of Asians into this argument and my brothers and sisters just were not having it.

In response, journalist Jeff Guo issued the following tweetstorm:

It’s important to recognize when and how the myth of the model minority is deployed. It’s almost always used to disparage one minority group, and occasionally to turn minority groups against each other. We should be vigilant against it.

Twitter Thread of the Day: David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ in 13 tweets, by Guillermo del Toro

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I see tons of amazing dialogue and reflections. Twitter Thread of the Day is a feature on my blog where I’ll try to share one thread that was particularly interesting, smart, moving, or impactful for me. Go here to read past editions of Twitter Thread of the Day. 

[Note: If you’re ever featured here and don’t want to be, feel free to get in touch with me via email at davechen(AT)davechen(DOT)net]

Today, writer/director Guillermo del Toro (one of my favorites!) explains the brilliance of Zodiac. While I think Zodiac is David Fincher’s masterpiece, it’s not a film I’ve gone back to revisit very often. It’s a film about the nature of obsession and it offers no easy resolution of any kind. I find it Fincher’s most disquieting film — it makes me physically uncomfortable to watch it. But I really should check it out again sometime soon.

Twitter Threads of the Day: Ira Madison III and Myles McNutt on the Moonlight/La La Land narrative

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I see tons of amazing dialogue and reflections. Twitter Thread of the Day is a feature on my blog where I’ll try to share one thread that was particularly interesting, smart, moving, or impactful for me. Go here to read past editions of Twitter Thread of the Day. 

[Note: If you’re ever featured here and don’t want to be, feel free to get in touch with me via email at davechen(AT)davechen(DOT)net]

Today we have two Twitter threads: culture writers Ira Madison III and Myles McNutt both had some insights to share about the Moonlight/La La Land fiasco at the Oscars, and the resulting narrative that has intertwined both films (rightfully or wrongfully). This narrative is best exemplified by a recent Variety cover story featuring directors Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle.

Let’s begin with Madison’s:

Next, McNutt responds with his own thoughts on this issue:

Twitter Thread of the Day: Anand Giridharadas on Kansas hate crime

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I see tons of amazing dialogue and reflections. Twitter Thread of the Day is a feature on my blog where I’ll try to share one thread that was particularly interesting, smart, moving, or impactful for me. Go here to read previous editions. 

Today’s TTOTD comes from Anand Giridharadas, who writes about the shooting of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani in Kansas. The attack seems like a clear example of a hate crime, fueled by the current political climate that’s awash in anti-immigrant sentiment. Giridharadas explains how this happened.

[Note: If you’re ever featured here and don’t want to be, feel free to get in touch with me via email at davechen(AT)davechen(DOT)net]

Twitter Thread of the Day: Zeynep Tufekci on “Liberal Outrage”

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I see tons of amazing dialogue and reflections. Twitter Thread of the Day is a feature on my blog where I’ll try to share one thread that was particularly interesting, smart, moving, or impactful for me.

Today’s TTOTD comes from Zeynep Tufecki, a scholar whose work I’ve admired for quite awhile. In the wake of a conservative personality’s book getting canceled and his speaking invitation at CPAC getting rescinded, Tufecki tweeted some trenchant insights about the forces that are really responsible for this. It’s not liberal outrage.

[Note: If you’re ever featured here and don’t want to be, feel free to get in touch with me via email at davechen(AT)davechen(DOT)net]

Twitter Thread of the Day: Abigail Nussbaum on Nick Fury and Black Panther

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I see tons of amazing dialogue and reflections. One of the things that make me sad about platforms like Twitter is how quickly they move — tweets show up for a few minutes on your feed, and then they’re gone. Maybe they resurface again later in their “You Might Have Missed” feature, but even then it can be rare. Thus, “Twitter Thread of the Day” is a feature on my blog where I’ll try to share one thread that was particularly interesting, smart, moving, or impactful for me.

Today’s TTOTD comes from Abigail Nussbaum, who points out some of the issues with Marvel’s universe of characters. [Note: If you’re ever featured here and don’t want to be, feel free to get in touch with me via email at davechen(AT)davechen(DOT)net]