MCAS Disparities set against “Model Minority” backdrop

This small news brief was seen in the Boston Globe’s “New England in Brief” March 8, 2007.

Disparity seen in MCAS competency rates

Nearly 90 percent of students in the graduating high school classes of 2007 and 2008 achieved competency on the MCAS in two tries, about a 10 percent increase in the rate from four years ago, according to a Department of Education report released yesterday. But the report showed a continuing disparity between rates of white students and black or Hispanic students. In the class of 2007, for example, only 54 percent of Hispanic students and 59 percent of black students initially passed. Whites and Asians in the same class both passed at about a 90 percent rate on their first attempt. Similarly, the report highlighted a difference between students with disabilities and their peers. In the class of 2007, only 50 percent of disabled students passed on their first attempt, and about 75 percent passed after four tries.

MCAS/standardized test racism continues to point the finger at Asian Americans as the “Model Minority.” Continuous reference to Asian Americans “making it,” or “succeeding academically,” stoke the fires of racial divisions, and provoke the notion of racial superiority or cultural competent ethics. For ages, Asian Americans as a racial group have been used as a political wedge to drive the notion that more ethnic minorities should be like them. Dating back to the infamous NewsWeek article declaring the Chinese to be getting by with no assistance from any others in achieving the American Dream.

Asian American transracial adoptees can also fit into this equation.  A number of transracial Asian American adoptees are adopted by white families and are privileged by middle to affluent class standing where their educational resources assistant in not only pairing or surpassing ther educational attainment to whites, but by inflating the “anti-affirmative action” model minority statistics that pit Asians vs the “unsuccessful ethnic minorities.”  But there are growing numbers of transracial Asian adoptees who are beginning to understand how their identity crises stem from this very nexus of class, power, and race.

The Model Minority myth dismisses the fact that there are large numbers of Asian Americans who exist in extreme poverty. A large number of SouthEast Asians are not achieving the American Dream. The differences between East vs SouthEast Asians comes down to citizenship. While many East Asians entered the country through legal channels of immigration (this is not to discount the fact that there are still many East Asians are who are in poverty or entered the country illegally), many SouthEast Asians who entered the U.S. did so under refugee status. This fact separates those with the resources and cultural capital from those less fortunate who were forced to emigrate with very little than the clothes on their backs.

In a recent report released from the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMass Boston, entitled “Far From the Commonwealth,” a little over 50% of Cambodians residing within Massachusetts are low-income, a little over 45% of Vietnamese are low-income in comparison to Asian Indians with little less than 20% low-income. They cite that poverty and low-income for these same groups are even more pronounced in condensed urban areas such as Boston, Lynn, and Worcester where “Asian American poverty rates are higher than those of African Americans, although lower than those of the Latino population.”

The study focuses on the Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Chinese low-income communities within Massachusetts. It’s quantitative proof that while a large number of Asians in this country are well off, there are an overwhelming number of low-income Asians who aren’t receiving enough financial assistance from community organizations due to pervading Model Minority images that cast doubt on foundations as to why Asians would need grant money for community development. For more information on the study you can download it at http://www.iaas.umb.edu/


Case Number K83-3518

In the picture
seal is placed

strategically over my heart.

By virtue of the stamp,
little Nike shoes,
and waving red, white, and blue colors on a stick,
I am an American.
My American I.V. drip slowly,
reconstituting what little Korean is still left of me to an assimilative void.

I am to be
naturalized today,
and my Korean culture leaks like a sieve.

My mind is caught between two worlds both blurred by the innocence of youth.

The water-mark that appears on my naturalization certificate has been placed over my heart in attempts to further purge my identity of any ties to Korea.

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