Screening of 'Not Your Model Minority,' Discussions With Legal Community Examine Impacts of Model Minority Myth
HOUSTON, May 24, 2022 — In partnership with the Asian American Bar Association (AABA) of Houston, Asia Society Texas hosted a film screening of the documentary Not Your Model Minority by award-winning director Jon Osaki. Two panel discussions followed the screening, exploring the impact of the model minority myth specifically within the legal field from the perspective of AAPI practitioners as well as non-AAPI members of the legal community.
The 30-minute film addressed the origin and impact of the model minority myth, exploring the myth’s intersections with past and present anti-Asian violence. Highlighting reflections and calls to action by Asian American community leaders including Cynthia Choi, founder of the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate, Mike Ishii, artist and organizer with nonprofit Tsuru for Solidarity, Ellen Wu, associate professor of history at Indiana University Bloomington, and Helen Zia, activist and author, the film revealed the ways the model minority myth has been used to create a wedge between communities of color, while also examining opportunities to build power toward addressing systemic racism in America.
The first panel discussion featured AAPI attorneys Nishi Kothari, Partner at Brasher Law Firm and Immediate Past President of the South Asia Bar Association of Houston; David Quan, Former Associate Municipal Court Judge for the City of Houston and Of Counsel at Quan Law Group PLLC; and Hoyt Zia, Founding President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and former General Counsel of Hawaiian Airlines, in conversation with moderator Heaven Chee, member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at AABA Houston. Zia and Quan reflected on their early careers, where the few AAPI law students and attorneys had to create their own organizations, such as NAPABA, and had to fight for advancements in their careers. Kothari shared her more recent experience as a South Asian attorney, and spoke to the continued need to challenge stereotypes and expectations around “model” careers within our own Asian cultures.
Help Us Build a More Inclusive World
The second panel was a conversation with the broader legal community, featuring Chevazz G. Brown, Partner at Jackson Walker LLP and Founder of DiversePro; Rosa Victoria Gilcrease-Garcia, Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Texas; and Justice Sarah Beth Landau from the Texas First District Court of Appeals, in conversation with moderator Peggy Li, Director of Chapters at the American Constitution Society and member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at AABA Houston. The panelists reflected on how their perceptions of Asian Americans were initially influenced by media and pop culture and discussed how they encountered the model minority myth within the legal profession. Landau shared that she, as a Jew, could empathize and relate to many experiences of not belonging; Gilcrease-Garcia and Brown echoed the sentiments while underlining the importance of building coalitions across minority communities and combating stereotypes in their legal practices.
While the film screening and panel discussions were part of Asia Society’s May programming for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2022, Li encouraged the audience to commit to learning about AAPI history — as well as the histories of other minority and nonwhite communities — all year round.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.