A conservative commentator got called out for perpetuating a stereotype that has long hurt Asian immigrants during a CNN discussion Thursday night about President Donald Trump’s reported labeling of Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”
Carrie Sheffield attempted to argue that Trump isn’t as anti-immigrant or racist as those comments suggested.
The president “said he would welcome immigrants from Asia so he is open to accepting people from other countries.” Sheffield said, referencing information from a White House official.
Fellow panelist Keith Boykin, a liberal commentator, fired back at her, noting how highlighting Asian immigrants in contrast to others reinforces a myth about them.
“This is not good because it’s playing into the stereotype of the model minority,” Boykin said.
The idea of Asians as the “good immigrants” ― wealthier, better educated and higher skilled ― is a harmful stereotype that pits Asians against other communities of color, often only to the benefit of white people. The model minority myth keeps serious issues in the Asian-American community, which is majority immigrant, from being addressed and ignores the diversity of experiences within the group.
A December 2016 report from the Center for American Progress shows the wealth gap among Asian-Americans is great, larger even than that among white Americans. And data averages hide the particular needs and histories of immigrants from different Asian countries.
“It doesn’t really make sense to compare recent Chinese, Korean or Pakistani immigrants who are working in tech and engineering jobs to people who came as refugees in the 1980s and their working-class descendants,” Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, told The Washington Post at the time the report was issued.
The model minority stereotype has consequences. Asian-Americans constitute around 13 percent of the population in New York City and have the highest poverty rate there, according to a 2015 report. Yet from 2002 to 2014, they received a mere 1.4 percent of the city’s social service funds.