ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Spectrum News 13 is recognizing that by putting a focus on issues and topics important to the Asian-American community.
One concern that arises within the Asian-American community is the Model Minority Myth. That’s the idea that Asian-Americans face stereotypes about who they are, and how some in society expect them to act no matter what unique challenges each family and each person face in life. The idea originated from the author of an article about the subject in the 1960s, but has been used over the years to compare Asian-Americans with other minorities.
“When the notion of model minority is used, it’s always contrasted to those problem minorities, the ones that don’t seem to have the right family structures, the right kind of cultural values or their work ethic, and it becomes a kind of explanation,” Assistant Professor at UCF Christian Ravela told Spectrum News.
The stereotypes can present challenges for Asian-American students. Julian-Alexandre Wang is learning some fundamentals of investing from his father, an investor who worked on Wall Street. Wang says while he’s working to excel in finance and economics, he’s not as proficient when it comes to specific types of math, subjects he feels pressure to excel in because he’s Asian-American.
“I have to continuously keep telling myself I have to work harder, I have to work harder because if I don’t do this, I don’t do that, if I don’t master the subject of Algebra 2, I’m not going to do well on the SAT’s, and I’m going to behind the eightball compared to the other Asian friends I have,” Wang explained.
Wang and his family have lived in the U.S. their entire lives. In fact, he’s a fourth-generation Asian-American. But he says the Model Minority Myth stereotype still exists. His older brother, Brennan-Pierson, says he feels like he has to study harder for college entrance exams, like the SAT, because colleges will automatically expect the highest of scores, which he fears still won’t help him get accepted into schools.
“I think that we are, as Asians, we are unfortunately held to a higher standard, so there is a lot of added pressure because all of my friends are getting high scores, and you hear these horror stories of Asians that your friends of friends know that get perfect scores and perfect academics, but they still don’t get into any of the schools they want to get into,” Wang said.
The brothers have taken their parent's insight into stock trading and combined that with their own research, and developed a video-game like program, called Skaitube, where they teach other teenagers the basics of trading stocks by allowing them to simulate what it’s like to buy and trade and compete against each other to make money. He says it puts people from all different backgrounds on common ground, with one shared interest. And it uniquely displays their social outreach, something that breaks through a long-perpetuated stereotype.
“There aren’t any standards because you’re different from one another,” said Wang.
“It really comes down to your financial knowledge as a person, so that’s something we recognize truly, not whether you’re from that place or this place, or you’re like me or not like me. So I think it really holds no bias, and that’s something we’re really trying to build.”
He sees it as a way he can branch out into something new and excel, without the pressures of expectations.