Thursday, March 26, 2009

Indian Americans: model minorities perhaps, but not necessarily a byproduct of anything inherent

In response to: Indian Americans: The New Model Minority

The way Richwine is arguing it has some very racist undertones. By comparing Indian Americans within a pool of just minorities, he's implying a difference between whites and everyone else that needs to be delineated; by buying into them being a "model minority," they're validating themselves by the gauge of White people. "It values communities -- and their right to be in the U.S. -- based on economic success. It suggests that only immigrants with college degrees or high IQs can contribute to society, when in reality, industriousness knows no boundaries" [1].

Furthermore, he's also using stereotypes and correlations to imply causation. The reason there are so many Indian doctors/engineers/
professionals might not be because they're naturally smarter. For example, a large proportion of Indian doctors in America now are here because they came here after leaving India. There was a mass expatriation during the second half of the 20th century that saw 10.1% of the 592,215 physicians registered by the Medical Council of India emigrate to the US, UK, Canada, and Australia [2]. As nice as it seems ostensibly to have such a high proportion of Indian doctors in the Western world, I think the skeleton in the closet is that they left India because it had sub-par residency training and practice positions. The same can be said of engineers who leave India because of its wretched working conditions. I think the Germans, for example, are equally intelligent and industrious; but they don't leave Germany in droves the way Indian professionals did. Even if they did, they wouldn't even be considered a minority because of the color of their skin.

Even Richwine admits his arguments are cursory, despite trying to present them as substantive evidence: "Given the small sample size, the rough IQ measure and the lack of corroborating data sets, this finding of lofty Indian-American intelligence must be taken cautiously. Nevertheless, it is entirely consistent with their observed achievement." He argues that, in contrast, Mexicans "are much less wealthy and educated than U.S. natives, even after many years in the country." This is unfortunately attributed to the Mexican culture as a whole and clearly shouldn't be. First, Mexican emigrants tend to be of the non-educated variety when they come here, looking for new opportunities that they can't get in Mexico. [sarcasm] Second, its not like structural racism, redlining, negative stereotypes and media portrayal (impacting employment), etc. hinder their successes at all [/sarcasm].

At best, this is poor journalism and, at worst, a glimpse into the reason cultural divides still exist in modern society.


See also: