Three generations of joyful Asian family celebrating Chinese New Year

Guest Blog: Dismantling the Myth of the Model Minority

Articles Jun 16, 2021

First, a poem:


The Game Board: Second Generation Chinese American Female Edition

Here’s how you play.
Wake up in your safe suburban neighborhood, move
ahead two spaces.
Get dressed in your safe, suburban clothes,
move ahead two spaces.
Mask up to head out, wave
at the neighbor as you drive down
the hill—code for
you live there. Move ahead
one space.
Walk into store and watch
as they stare at your half-hidden face.
The mask, useless. Your onyx hair and
crescent eyes betray
your invisibility. Move back
three spaces. Stand in line,
try to stifle it, but they don’t know
you’ve suffered from allergies
your whole life. The cough
move back two spaces.
The cashier speaks, you respond, in your
perfectly perfect
American accented English.
Move ahead three spaces.
Walk back to the car—notice
two men talking. They stop, stare, track
your movement. Muscles tighten, pace quickens,
bursts. You’ve drawn
a wild card. Climb in safely,
move ahead one space.
The game changes, of course,
with additional players.
Bring along your white husband, move ahead
three spaces. Bring your half white children,
move ahead, well, logically,
1.5 spaces. Go
where it’s safe and free from hate–
Chinatown, Oakland, East
Bay oh wait—
A virus arrives.
Move back five spaces.
An incumbent falls.
Move ahead one.
His message does not.
Move back two.
A challenger wins.
Move ahead one.
But fear requires no victory.
Move back two.
Vaccines arrive.
Move ahead two.
The virus mutates.
Move back three.
But they all love Asian food.
Move ahead two.
But they still think we’re dirty.
Move back three.
But we work really hard.
Move ahead two.
But we steal their jobs.
Move back three.
But Asian girls are hot.
Lose a turn.
And Asian girls are submissive.
Go back to start.
This they do not realize:
it is a single string that ties
acceptance with
disgust—pulled so
tautly, you just might break.



Guest Author

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