Asian Students’ Associations initiate ‘Not your Model Minority’ poster project


Jade Deng

To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and to fight stereotypes, sophomore Jade Deng holds a white poster sign about why she is not the model minority. Jade is the only student who submitted a photo, but students have until May 17 to email their photos to ASA president Zara Baig or adviser Aria Choi.

Louis Auxenfans, Reporter

To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and to fight stereotypes, the high school Asian Students’ Association is partnering with the middle school ASA in a poster project on the theme of “Not your Model Minority.” All students of Asian American heritage are encouraged to submit a photo of themselves by May 17 holding a white poster sign about why they are not the model minority. 

Students can submit their photos to the project by emailing ASA president Zara Baig or adviser, Aria Choi. The compiled poster project will be published the week of May 23. 

The model minority myth was created soon after World War II and cast Asians as having the capability to work hard and succeed in society. However, this myth was used to downplay racism toward other minorities like African Americans, which allowed for white Americans to avoid responsibilities for addressing racism. 

Janice Moy, a sixth grade humanities teacher who is compiling the photos for the project, was aware when she was growing up of the Asian stereotypes directed at her and the larger consequences for minorities. 

“As I read more about the myth and understand it better, I also realize that not only is it harmful to Asian Americans, it’s also really harmful to other minority groups because it’s used as a weapon against them,” Ms. Moy said. “It’s dehumanizing, not only to Asian Americans, but also to Black and brown people.” 

Zara hopes that the poster project will push back against these stereotypes and show the range of individual Asian American experience. 

“We’re often sent to the stereotype that we get good grades, we are quiet, we just mind our own business and we’re just like that perfect model minority,” Zara said, “and this can be really dangerous because it totally washes away and disregards any struggles that Asian Americans experience.” 

Ms. Moy is part of a group of self-identified Asian American teachers in the middle school who she said came together because they were feeling “particularly disheartened and distressed” by the surge of assaults against Asian Americans during the pandemic. And the poster campaign is just one piece among several efforts in the middle school to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

Ms. Moy encourages students in middle school and high school to submit a photo and push back against what she called a destructive stereotype. 

“We really do hope that students who identify as AAPI will step forward and participate,” Ms. Moy said. “I think a lot of times we can be kind of used to being invisible or quiet, but I think it is really important for us to be vocal and to speak up and to make ourselves seen, especially given all the things that happened this past year.”