“Model Minority” is a term used to characterize foreign groups that have been able
to achieve and reach the top in the “echelons” of the United States economy. The first
Japanese immigrants (men and women) who set foot on American soil in Hawai did not
suffer as much as their counterparts who were placed in camps on US mainland after the influx
of 1968. The ISSEI were the earlier immigrant pioneers from Japan. The NISEI were the
American-born children of the Issei. And, of course, the SANSEI were the children of the Nisei.
The ISSEI and the NISEI accepted the term “model minority”. It was a certain “pride”. However
the SANSEI rebelled against their own parents for not being ...view middle of the document...
African-Americans in the civil rights movement had been pushing in their
demands to be treated fairly, and the government felt that it hasn’t done
One way to go was by praising the Japanese-Americans as model minority.
Two of the main reasons for doing so are: (a) they do not complain, and (b)
they work hard. The reason for that they are saying to the public “the good
minority” does not complain; the “bad minority” complains. So the SANSEI
will tell their parents that should complain. What happened to your parents
is not right. It was racism. You should demand an apology. Some of the
SANSEI would make fun of the parents for trying to fit the “model minority”
image. For the SANSEI it was “good news”. Because they were different, they
were placed in camps. They always told their children “don’t draw attention
to yourself”. And when the U.S. government starts to talk about this “model
minority” image, one of the NISSEI wrote a book titled “The NISSEI: the quiet
Americans”. The SANSEI were making “fun” of their American parents. A quiet
American speaking in political activation of Japanese American youth.
…Sh, h, h…! A Quiet American is speaking… As the Black and Brown communities push
for changes in our present system, the Oriental is set forth as an example to be followed…[Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 29, Number 2, 1973 - Gidra, 1969, p. 6]
The children are challenging their parents criticizing the model minority and their
parents tell them: “you have to listen to us”. You are going to get yourself in
Taken together, these observations reveal that the modern minority stereotype
is problematic because it masks many of the struggles faced by Asian Americans.
(Inheriting the city: the children of immigrants come of age, p. 173)
2) Why did the NISEI and the SANSEI act differently?
We saw a phenomenon that is unprecedented because there are more than a
handful of Japanese American youth turning in political activism. They are
facing challenges that are very different from the ones of Black Americans
and other minority groups.
Japanese Americans have reached a middle class status and they have been
looked up and recommended as a “model minority” by the dominant “White
Americans. The most important issue raised by the activist SANSEI is the
necessity to substitute the image of the “quiet Americans” with a brand new
“self determined Asian identity. The SANSEI are currently criticizing the NISSEI because
the latter is labeled as quiet, docile, effacing, and because they do not get into
violent protests. This new activism may be due to several reasons. First and foremost,
there is a raising prejudice and discrimination toward the Japanese. There is an idea
that Japanese are well accepted and have acculturated into the society is widely
questioned. Secondly, because of the newly formed “Black and Chicano” movement,
there has been a great impact felt. The...