Reappropriate: 'Asian Americans Are Not Your Proof that Donald Trump Isn’t Racist'
Earlier this week, President Trump referred to African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador as “shithole countries” during a meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration policies. Of course, many of Trump’s surrogates took to the media to defend this vile sentiment including CNN contributor Carrie Sheffield, who argued that the President isn’t racist because he welcomes immigrants from Asia (watch the clip above).
Sheffield suggests that because Trump supposedly would be amenable to increasing the number of Asian Americans, his ‘merit-based’ immigration plan is not racist. Implicit in this reasoning is two faulty assumptions: 1) that Asian Americans are high-achieving model minorities, and 2) that the presence of Asian Americans serves as an inoculation from racism.
In a week of breathtakingly racist remarks, Carrie Sheffield’s comments rank pretty danged high. (And this is a week when Jesse Watters — of Watters’ World: Chinatown Edition — is being called upon to judge the etiquette of racist remarks.) Sheffield invokes stereotypes to generalize Asian Americans as high-achievers, forgetting that Asian Americans are diverse and that many individuals — as well as Asian American ethnic groups — do not have the high socioeconomic outcomes asserted by the Model Minority Myth. Sheffield pretends that Asian American immigrants arrive in America primarily through “skills” or “merit”, forgetting that one-fifth of Asian Americans enter the country as refugees. In fact, only 20% of Asian immigrants receive work- or school-based visas; the vast majority of Asian American immigrants enter as family members of immigrants or US citizens, refugees, asylees, or as part of the diversity lottery program. Asian Americans are not the Right’s poster children for merit-based immigration. More than two-thirds of Asian Americans are first-generation immigrants. Trump’s assaults on immigration policy — including his ending of DACA; his proposed restrictions on H-1B visa renewals; his desired elimination of H-1B spousal work authorization; his mass round-ups of undocumented immigrants for deportation, which has included political targeting of Southeast Asian American refugees; and his Justice Department’s unprecedented reversal of naturalization certificates resulting in a loss of citizenship for at least one Asian American — are disastrous and will hurt the Asian American community.
Nonetheless, Sheffield calls attention to Trump’s enthusiasm for the mythical Asian American model minority immigrant as evidence that he is not racist against Blacks. Never mind that the Model Minority Myth is rooted in anti-blackness, and that it has been historically used by conservatives as a cudgel against Black political uplift. Sheffield’s use of the Model Minority Myth is well in keeping with its anti-Black origins: she uses it to cast doubt upon the anti-blackness of a man who called African nations “shithole countries”; who questioned if we could deny entry to Haitians (who are Black) in favor of Norwegians (who are White); who once suggested that Haitians “all have AIDS“; and who believes that Nigerians live in huts. Never mind, of course, that a system that fails to value Black lives can never truly value Asian American lives either.
Asian Americans will not be used in this fashion. We are not your well-behaved trophy pets. We are not your shields from racism. Trump’s racism does not stop at the borders of Asian America. Whether or not Trump would welcome immigrants from Asia, he still disparages us, mocks us for our accents, threatens Asian leaders, engages in racialized sexual harassment and microaggressive abuse against Asian American women, and perpetuates toxic masculinity’s disdainful mistreatment of Asian heteromasculinity.
Asian Americans are not your model minority, Conservative America. We didn’t vote for Trump, and we will not be used by your conservative cohort to reinforce your regressive, anti-Black wedge politics. We do not want your conditional privilege. We will not play nice. We will not behave and we will not do as we are told.
To read the full article, go to Reappropriate: #NotYourModelMinority: Asian Americans Are Not Your Proof that Donald Trump Isn’t Racist