The Asian-American Student Lisa Plattner

The history of Asians in America has been an unpleasant and hidden one. There can be empowerment through learning the true history. This is multicultural education.

Between 1910 and 1940, Asians trying to immigrate to the US were imprisoned on angel island pending acceptance or denial to "the Golden door." this was during a time when all europeans were eligible for citizenship.

These prisons had horrible living conditions. They were put into unfit cells and roomed like animals.

In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 ordered the interment of Japanese Americans along the West Coast. The military was allowed to force families out of their homes and into internment camps.
These interment camps were surrounded with barbed wire and guarded heavily by the military.
They could only take what they could carry and were forced to sell many of their possessions and to leave their businesses behind.
The U.S. government had incarcerated more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry by the time WWII ended.

When we teach students about social injustices and inequality, we make it more comfortable for discussions about social injustices in society today. We can give these students the confidence to have a voice.

the "Model Minority"

The Myth of the Model Minority claims that the Asian cultural values that are taught to them as children help them become obedient to authority, docile, respectful to teachers, cooperative, and college-bound. We lump a huge population into one group.

Educators can help with countering negative stereotypes. It is our job to look at each student as an individual and not lump them together.
"The myth of the model minority is that these kids will all do well, but we know that so many kids are struggling. In fact, there’s a huge achievement gap within [the Asian-American] community.” -Vanessa Leung, deputy director at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
How do we remove our bias as educators?

It is important to remove this Model Minority Myth because it causes a disservice to minority students. Asian students who may need assistance will often be overlooked because of the stereotype that Asians are always intelligent. The children often feel this pressure to live up to this expectation. Research has found that this racial bias affects self-esteem, causes psychological distress and can affect the academic and social lives of students.

It also adds to the idea of racial inferiority when comparing the African-American and Latino groups. There was even a study that showed that when Black and Latino students were just aware of the stereotype that Black and Latino students are less intelligent than white and Asian students, it negatively affected their performance levels.

The first step is admitting that this bias is real and we may act on it without even realizing it.

Tackling Stereotypes and Bias

  1. Reflection: Recognize stereotypes around you in the media and in life
  2. Address Negative Stereotypes in the Moment: If you here any stereotypes in your classroom, address it! Address in a way as to not embarrass a student.
  3. Talk to your students about negative stereotypes.
  4. Use Events and Activities to Reduce the Power of Stereotypes. Assemblies can be interesting for students. Inviting people to speak that break certain stereotypes can be eye-opening. Implementing small activities that ask students questions about themselves can help give them a voice.
  5. Recognize that Breaking Down Stereotypes Liberates Us All. Make it known that stereotypes are not defining. When we embrace each other and our identity in its entirety, we create an identity-safe learning environment
Teachers can build identity-safe classrooms
  • Child-centered teaching allows the students to have a voice and improve classroom autonomy
  • Cultivating diversity as a resource will not only challenge students but will also let them draw on personal experiences
  • Build positive classroom relationships between students and students-teacher by fostering interpersonal understanding and caring
  • Teach empathy to students with caring classroom environments
"An identity-safe environment values diversity by creating belonging and validating each person’s background and the multiple components of social identity" -Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas

Asian-American students bring with them unique and vibrant cultural backgrounds, but are too often lumped together. There are 48 ethnic groups within the group "Asian." We should celebrate them as individuals. Make them visible.

Articles Used:

  • Countering Stereotype Threat, Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas
  • I Am Asian American, Teaching Tolerance
  • Identity Safe Classrooms and Schools, Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas
  • You're Asian. How Could You Fail Math?, Benji Chang and Wayne Yu
  • What Happened to the Golden Door? How My Students Taught Me About Immigration, Linda Christensen
  • Tackling Implicit Bias, Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas
  • The Other Internment--Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans during WWII, Moe Yonamine


Created with images by Johgus - "statue of liberty new york sunset" • SpecialMomentsToShare - "minidoka japanese internment camp" • Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections - "Marine Shares A Treat, 1944" • Towne Post Network - "getting off train" • sof_sof_0000 - "children studying book reading" • TeroVesalainen - "question mark hand drawn solution"

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