Actor John Cho shares his thoughts on the current perception of Asian Americans right now.
Growing up, the assumption was that once we became American enough, there would be no need for such warnings — that we would be safe. To that end, my parents encouraged me and my younger brother to watch as much television as possible, so that we might learn to speak and act like the natives. The hope was that race would not disadvantage us — the next generation — if we played our cards right.
The pandemic is reminding us that our belonging is conditional. One moment we are Americans, the next we are all foreigners, who “brought” the virus here.
Like fame, the “model minority” myth can provide the illusion of “raceless-ness.” Putting select Asians on a pedestal silences those who question systemic injustice. Our supposed success is used as proof that the system works — and if it doesn’t work for you, it must be your fault.