On ‘Model Minorities’

In chapter 7, Gillborn (2008) looks at the issue of ‘model minorities’. Gillborn (2008, p. 151) warns of ‘the dangers of teachers’ assumptions about innate racialized “potential” ’, for example, the ‘exceptionally high expectations that many teachers hold about Indian and Chinese students [that] are the flip side of the same coin that involves the demonization of Black students’ (ibid., p. 153). It is important to point out that whatever the academic success rates of specific ethnic groups, there is still the reality of racist harassment and labour market exclusion (Gillborn 2008, p. 157). Gillborn (2008, p. 156-7) suggests that ‘White people draw considerable benefit from the existence of so-called model minorities: the stereotype provides a strong rhetorical counter to accusations of racism and unfairness’. It is difficult to see how white people in general derive such benefit, but easy to see how the racist capitalist state and its supporters do.

In this chapter, Gillborn also underscores the importance of social class, as in his pre-CRT days (e.g. Gillborn and Mirza 2000), noting ‘the strong association between social class and educational achievement’ (Gillborn 2008, p. 147), of how Chinese and Indian students are ‘significantly less likely to experience economic disadvantage and more likely to attend private schools’ (ibid., p. 160).

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