Speed Reads

2020 Campaign

Some Asian Americans believe Andrew Yang's supposedly self-deprecating humor is promoting stereotypes

Some Asian Americans laughed when entrepreneur Andrew Yang's said on the debate stage Thursday night in Houston that he knew a lot of doctors because he's Asian. But others find that that the presidential candidate's supposedly self-deprecating humor — which has also included jokes about being good at math and loving to work — too often reinforces racial stereotypes, The Washington Post reports.

"I found this part galling, because here he is sort of obtusely reinforcing the model-minority myth and model-minority stereotypes," Jenn Fang, who runs the blog Reappropriate, told the Post, referring to the debate line. Fang added that, in making a comment like that, Yang also "implicitly suggests that the Asian American experience is only represented by his specific middle-to-wealthy-upper-class East Asian American experience," which in the process "completely flattens all of the other ways people are Asian American and don't have access to health care and access to higher education."

Yang, though, has defended himself. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper over the weekend, the candidate said the "Asian American American community is very diverse, and certainly I would never claim that my individual experience would speak to the depth and breadth of our community." In fact, Yang argues, by "poking fun" at the myth surrounding Asian Americans, he's "making Americans reflect more on it."

Janelle Wong, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of Maryland, said it's "certainly dangerous" for Yang to "deploy stereotypes," but he is also "breaking stereotypes by seeking the presidential nomination." Read more at The Washington Post.