British American comedian John Oliver recently educated audiences about Asian Americans, explaining why the racial group is not a monolith and why the model minority label is inherently problematic.
The discussion, which also tackled significant points in Asian American history, made for Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver’s half-hour series on HBO.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author.
“I hope you’re not from China,” one patient tells me. “You look like you could be.”
Nearly one in four Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in California are working and struggling with poverty, debunking the model-minority stereotype that members of the racial group always succeed financially.
A new joint survey from AAPI Data, an organization publishing demographic data and policy research on the AAPI population, and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonpartisan research and education nonprofit, reveals that 23% of AAPIs in the area are “working and struggling with poverty,” contributing to a state of “two Californias” divided by a significant income gap.
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Asian Population grew 72% from 2000 to 2015, making us the fastest growing minority ethnic group in America. By 2055 Asian Americans are projected to become the largest immigrant group in the country. We’ve become a key demographic in political elections, meaning our vote matters more than ever and both Republicans and Democrats have picked up on this fact.
Most recently, Asian Americans have decided to take on the Affirmative Action debate with a lawsuit against Harvard University, accusing them of unfairly discriminating against Asian students during the admissions process. And even within the Asian American communities, it appears we just can’t come to an agreement whether this is a positive or negative way to make our mark in history.