If Indian Americans are a 'model minority,' why are Sikhs being shot?
If Indian Americans are a 'model minority,' then why would they be targeted by a white supremacist in a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six? Our Tuesday editorial says, "The horror compounded by rank stupidity is dizzying."
The shooting shows that the concept of a 'model minority' is useless.
By 'model minority,' I'm referring to the myth that because Indian Americans earn middle-class incomes and graduate from college, they no longer face racial discrimination. Here is a Forbes commentary from 2009 titled, "Indian Americans: The new model minority."
Many Indian Americans in Seattle and the Eastside hold engineering jobs at tech companies. The Indus Entrepreneurs in Seattle is a network that champions the successes of Indian Americans. It's easy, and simplistic, to think that Indian Americans seem to have it made.
The term 'model minority' implies that other people of color should seek to emulate them. The hate crime in Wisconsin blows up that myth. Whatever preconceptions we have of Indian Americans, that image now includes people who were targets of violence and prejudice. Even if we graduate with an engineering degree and land a job at Microsoft, we can still be the victim of a white supremacist with a gun.
I say "we" because Indian Americans are Asian Americans. We share a collective experience, both social and historic, of Asian descent living in a predominantly white country.
"When people say that Asian Americans are the 'model minority,' what they really mean is they think we are white," said Helen Zia, former editor of Ms. magazine, at a plenary last week at the UNITY Journalists convention in Las Vegas, Nev. "Hello — we are not white."
Updated 4:46 p.m.
Here is an interactive graphic with timeline, photos of the victims and other acts of mass violence from the Associated Press on the temple shooting.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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