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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Over-Represented and De-Minoritized: The Racialization of Asian Americans in Higher Education


Two predominant representations of Asian Americans in higher education are the yellow peril foreigner and the model minority. Using Omi and Winant's (1994) framework of racial formation and racist projects, this essay describes the construction of these representations, articulates their dialectical inter-connection, and demonstrates how their manifestations in higher education reinforce white dominance. The author discusses racist projects of the yellow peril foreigner (which depicts Asian Americans as overrepresented in institutions of higher education) and the model minority (which depicts Asian Americans as no longer needing minority services, essentially de-minoritizing them) in the contexts of the removal of Asian Americans from affirmative action, anti-Asian campus backlash, the Asian admissions controversy, and the representation of Asian Americans as victims of affirmative action.

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