The myth of the ‘model minority’

If you are South Asian American and perpetuate anti-Blackness, you have fallen prey to an oppressive tactic of the United States government, the concept of “model minorities.”
To combat anti-Blackness, we need to understand the history behind the term “model minority.” In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act, prioritizing “individuals with specialized skills” in the immigration processes. Consequently, the only South Asians allowed to immigrate to America were exceedingly intelligent and/or talented in a specific discipline. By only allowing the “best” South Asians to enter the country, the U.S. government predetermined the South Asian immigrant population to be successful.
On the other hand, people from the African diaspora were forcibly brought to the U.S. through the transatlantic slave trade. They had no choice to come to America, let alone indulge in the opportunity to learn and develop special skills to “prove their worth.” Therefore, South Asian Americans were systematically supported to be more successful, making the U.S. government consider them a model minority. However, this detrimental approach to immigration policy allowed our government to rest on their laurels and believe that their work in supporting South Asian Americans was advancing the mission of all inclusivity and diversity in the U.S.
Meanwhile, African Americans, who were forced into immigrating and were not given the right resources to become successful, continued to be oppressed and struggled to survive. The African-American community fought through chattel slavery, Jim Crow, redlining and now police brutality, while the media painted South Asian Americans as good, law-abiding citizens. When African Americans engaged in protests to merely exist as equals in U.S. society, South Asian Americans benefited off of their “model minority” status, playing into the government’s hands, even if it meant turning a blind eye to the continued oppression of their fellow peoples of color.
You might be thinking, “Just because I’m not Black doesn’t mean I don’t experience racism.” The difference here is that the racism that we, as South Asian Americans, have faced and continue to face is not institutionalized and not as rampantly widespread and maintained across U.S. government policies as racism that Black Americans face.
Now, more than ever, the South Asian-American community has the opportunity to reject the model minority messaging. One of the officers abetting the murder of George Floyd was Asian American, and we, as a minority population and a part of the larger Asian community, have a responsibility to strongly condemn this anti-Blackness and racism. The Asian-American population has long played a major role in the United States’ systematic racism: Now is the time to fight back.

Anushka Srinivasan was born and raised in Los Altos.

Other Voices: Black in Los Altos

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Marie Godderis/Town Crier Editorial Intern
Protesters take to the streets of Los Altos June 5 to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

By Noah Tesfaye

I’ve been a resident of Los Altos for seven years. And as a black resident and part of a race that makes up less than 150 people in our city, I have never felt particularly seen or heard.

Other Voices: Crisis produces 'cultural antibodies' to combat global climate change

This pandemic is priming us for the urgent battle against climate change. Beyond the coronavirus horizon, we will find a community with strong “cultural antibodies” against global threats. Imagine a world collectively in favor of climate actions that don’t jeopardize planetary health for greed or partisan gain. COVID-19, through fear and tragedy, is allowing us to rise above such attitudes and is changing the minds of millions of skeptics and leaders.

Will we respect climate scientists as we respect Dr. Anthony Fauci? Will we realize that a carbon tax is an urgent mitigating measure? Such changes have never been more likely.

Other Voices: Hidden treasures right outside our front doors

My stupid New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to run every trail in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s preserves – all 260 miles of them. I have been a trail runner ever since I accidentally discovered Rancho San Antonio was only a quarter-mile from my house when I moved to south Los Altos 29 years ago. When we moved to Los Altos Hills 11 years ago, I got very familiar with the town’s pathways.

My stupid New Year’s resolution got put on hold when I got injured running in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve in March 2019. As a result, my plan changed to finish in 2020. I only have about 11 miles left before I complete the project.

Other Voices: Webinar today offers chance to learn about energy efficiency

While it is challenging right now to focus our attention on other things, the Los Altos Environmental Commission and the city of Los Altos continue to pursue progress toward our Climate Action Plan goals. Our current focus is the city’s proposed reach codes. We will be hosting a webinar at 7 p.m. today to present the proposed codes and answer questions.

What are reach codes? They are local building energy codes that “reach” beyond the state minimum requirements for energy efficiency in building design. In the past several months, many Bay Area cities have adopted reach codes that either limit or prohibit the use of natural gas in construction, as well as increase electric-vehicle charging infrastructure. The city of Los Altos is evaluating a reach code that would require new commercial and residential buildings to be 100% electric and increase “EV-read” parking spaces in new developments.

A Mother’s Day remembrance: Honoring my mother and nurse Dina Rosjansky – the angel in white


Although I am an only child, my mother had thousands of children, all loved and cared for by her. They affectionately called her “Deenush, our Angel in White.” Remember the times nurses wore all-white uniforms? That’s why they called them “Angels in White.”

Deenush, born Dina Rosjansky – the beautiful young nurse in Municipal Hospital No. 4 in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the Soviet Union, and later the head nurse of the oncology department in Tel Aviv’s Hadassah/Balfour hospital – had dedicated her life and career to taking care of cancer patients, some as young as 3 years old. Cancer does not discriminate; all ages fall under the spell of this mysterious disease.
The pain, the sorrow and the ordeal of the patients, their families and friends were eased by the confidence of Dina’s superb medical knowledge and skillful treatment, and softened by the caring love she bestowed on all.
The warm touch of her strong hand, a reassuring hug, the chicken soup and a sandwich for those waiting all night in the hospital’s corridors to hear the fate of their loved ones made this incredible woman a mother to so many.
Exhausted after 12- to 14-hour workdays, my mother would rush home, often walking 7 miles. She would climb to her fourth-floor apartment, just in time to cook supper and bring a wonderful smile and loving Yiddish greeting – “mein lichteke and tayere kind” (“my bright and dear child”) – to her only child.

Inserting my hand into her handbag, I would always find an apple or an orange, a real treasure in those “good old days” in Vilnius. I knew that she always thought about me.
And as the times changed, modern technology added a high-tech elevator on 45 Kaplansky St. in Givatayim, Israel, but Deenush still enjoyed climbing four floors of stairs to her beautiful apartment No. 10.
Sadly, I lost my beloved mom 10 years ago. Holding her in my arms until, with her last breath, she whispered in Russian, “Ya tiebia ochen’ liubliu” (“I love you very much”), I tearfully parted with the world’s most admired, loving and adoring mother.
On Mother’s Day, as we gather via Zoom with my family for this special festivity, Deenush is and always will be a part of our lives.
Lina Broydo is a longtime Los Altos Hills resident and member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos.

MVLA grading decision: MVLA vote levels the playing field

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees convened a special meeting April 6 to decide on grading for the spring semester due to the closure of on-site education at our schools. The decision to change grading policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic is being done by all school districts in the Bay Area, and many throughout the country.

Most, if not all, Bay Area school districts are choosing the mandatory credit/no-credit option. This does not imply the board’s decision was correct, but that it aligns with other districts in the Bay Area and allows our students to compete on a level playing field with other students in the Bay Area.

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