For years, Cayden Mak and the grassroots community groups he works with knew that attacks against vulnerable Asian seniors in Chinatowns across the country were a perennial problem. But he said the model minority myth, a persistent stereotype that paints Asian Americans as inherently successful and problem-free, particularly in contrast to other minority groups, had helped keep the story “from being a big deal before this.”
Mak, executive director of the Asian American organizing group 18 Million Rising, said that the combination of Covid-19 and inflamed tensions around race has finally brought the longstanding issue to the forefront. And after eight people in the Atlanta area, including six Asian women, were killed at three spas, the national conversation has shifted to the unique racism and dangers faced by the Asian American community.
“It’s sad that it’s taken this long and took a global pandemic to get here,” Mak told NBC Asian America. “It’s my hope that now that this conversation can happen out in the open we can start addressing the problem together.”