Demystifying Americanness: The model minority myth and the black-Korean relationship

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The recent incidents involving both Black American and Korean American communities across the United States have reopened the old wounds between the two minority communities, recalling the two tragic incidents in the 1990s: the death of Latasha Harlins (1991) and the Los Angeles Uprising/Sa-I-Gu (1992). Revisiting and reevaluating these two cases, this article argues that the myth of true Americanness, channeled and reinforced through the concept of model minority, has not only shaped and sustained a contentious relationship between Korean immigrants and Black Americans but also intensified the racial tension among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. We conclude that American people of all demographics must debunk the myth of model minority and challenge the false Americanism by embracing “deep diversity,” not merely distinctive group identities and outlooks, which offers a more diverse and rich interpretation of America as a whole.

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