Critical Reading with Questions

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An invented & untrue story?
The Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority
Ronald Takaki

1. Asian Americans have increasingly come to be viewed as a “model minority.” But are they as successful as claimed? And for whom are they supposed to be a model? 2. Asian Americans have been described in the media as “excessively, even provocatively” successful in gaining admission to universities. Asian American shopkeepers have been congratulated, as well as criticized, for their ubiquity and entrepreneurial effectiveness. 3. If Asian Americans can make it, many politicians and pundits ask, why can’t African Americans? Such comparisons pit minorities against each other and generate African American resentment toward Asian Americans. The victims are blamed for their plight, rather than racism and an economy that has made many young African American workers superfluous. 4 The celebration of Asian Americans has obscured reality. For example, figures on the high earnings of Asian Americans relative to Caucasians are misleading. Most Asian Americans live in California, Hawaii, and New York - states with higher incomes and higher costs of living than the national average. 5 Even Japanese Americans, often touted for their upward mobility, have not reached equality. While Japanese American men in California earned an average income comparable to Caucasian men in 1980, they did so only by acquiring more education and working more hours. 6 Comparing family incomes is even more deceptive. Some Asian American groups do have higher family incomes than Caucasians. But they have more workers per family. 7 The "model minority" image homogenizes Asian Americans and hides their differences. For example, while thousands of Vietnamese American young people attend universities, others are on the streets. They live in motels and hang out in pool halls in places like East Los Angeles; some join gangs. 8 Twenty-five percent of the people in New York City's Chinatown lived...
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