For the first time in campus history, SPU celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this past Tuesday. Special guest speaker Dr. Jonathan Tran from Baylor University spoke first spoke at chapel about the harm of the “model minority myth” in regards to the Asian American experience. He states that this model is “constraining precisely because it is affirming,” for in upholding a particular image of what it means to be a “good Asian American,” other expressions of Asian American identity are either subject to erasure or deemed as less valuable.

Upholding the model minority myth also serves to demean other marginalized groups, for the myth creates a “minority standard” by which all other ethnic groups are then compared. He states that the “affirmation of the model minority myth enforces countless constraints. By saying “this” is how to be, it creates a stereotype of how all minorities should be. The model works to shut down complaints of racism and discrimination, and affirms one ethnic group on the constrained backs of other ethnic groups.”

He concluded his sermon by stating that being Asian American taught him “something of what it means to be a Christian,” for “we are all immigrants in this world, [and] by immigrant I mean we share the pilgrim status of the church as the foreigner. We are in the world but not of it.”

Billy Vo, Director of SPU’s Asian American Ministry Program, concluded the service by stating, “Let us be a community that resists superficial stereotypes. Let us be a community that tells stories well and hears stories well, and lives into the reality of our Christian pilgrimage together.”

A big thank you to Dr. Tran for coming to Seattle and helping to engage our community in this conversation!

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