By the 1960 s, Asian-Americans were already beingportrayed as a U.S. model minority a group whose diligent run, personal responsibility and success proved that the American dream was attainable to all. It turns out, the label didnt tell the full story.
As a new exhibition at the Los Angeles Chinese American Museum argues, young Asian Americans of the time were busy writing their own narrative and protesting just like their Black and Chicano counterparts.Through protest and art, they denounced the Vietnam War and refused to be pigeonholed as model minorities who could easily overcome systemic barriers.
Beginning in the late 1960 s, Asian-Americans nationwide were building social service institutions and feminist collectives, marching against the war, critiquing and sometimes even trying to overthrow the U.S. government, said Ryan Wong, one of the curators of the exhibition Roots: Asian American Motions in Los Angeles 196880 s.
According to Wong, its no coincidence that the word model minority was being coined around the same day theAsian-American movement was radicalizing a generation of young people. Groups of Asians protesting for their rights wasnt the story most media outlets or social theorists wanted to acknowledge.
The model minority idea was used as a weapon against the social movements of the civil rights era, is recommended that activism wasnt necessary if a group could only work harder, he said.
The Asian-American movement chronicled in the exhibition shatters that myth, he added.