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Model Minority: Uniquely American

Model Minority: Uniquely American

By Nidhi Shastri
A podcast that breaks down the model minority myth and showcases stories from the Asian, Middle Eastern, and African immigrants and first generation American communities.
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Immigrant Tales #1 -- Chu May Paing

Model Minority: Uniquely American

Ep 9 - Documenting Our Histories
Stories. Histories. What differentiates one from the other? And, why are they so important to document? With so much going on right now - India’s coronavirus surge, the free Palestine movement, BLM, Stop Asian Hate, and so much more - sharing and saving our stories are more important to presenting history fairly, than ever before. In this episode, Nidhi speaks with the people who are documenting Asian, African and Middle Eastern stories in real-time. Join us as we meet the storytellers, the change-makers and the documenters of the world. Catch the people featured in this episode and their work using the links below: Malek and Anwar are documenting Arab American stories on their podcast, CommuniTea in Arabic, and just kicked off Season 2!  Hana Baba is sharing stories from the Black diaspora and celebrating Black joy and diversity on her podcast, The Stoop. Jaki Yi’s studies have been published (woohoo!) , check them out here and here.  Sangay Mishra’s book Desi’s Divided is on Amazon and also available at the University of Minnesota bookstore. Lakshmi Sridaran and the team at South Asians Leading Together (SAALT) have published new work here Randy Kim’s podcast, the Bahn Mi Chronicles, also just kicked off a brand new season centered on SE Asian LGBTQ+ stories.  Thank you, shukriya, for listening. Please share this podcast episode with a friend if you enjoyed it, and give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ! Credit to Corky Lee’s full interview goes to BRIC TV (check it out here) : Image credits: "Community" by niallkennedy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
May 25, 2021
Immigrant Tales #3: Shiwei Zhang
** Model Minority stands against the recent attacks against AAPI communities. Please consider sharing this podcast on social media with the hashtag #stopAAPIhate to show your support and uplift Asian voices during this time.** Shiwei Zhang moved to the U.S. from China at a young age. But, she quickly realized it wasn't all that she dreamt it'd be. Her mother, who worked as a nail technician at a salon in Chicago, found that the degrees and credentials that she worked so hard to attain in China were deemed meaningless in America. Meanwhile, she faced ostracism from her classmates about her culture and accent.  Things took a turn for the worst when she and her mother were questioned by Chicago police - a group that should exist to "serve and protect." In this episode, Shiwei recounts the frustrating and terrifying situation her family was in and explains how it gave her more insight into the struggles of other minority groups in the U.S. Listen to the third edition of Immigrant Tales to hear her tell the story firsthand. Are you an Asian, African, or Middle Eastern immigrant or first-gen with a story to tell? Reach out to me on my website or through Facebook and Instagram to share your story. 
April 5, 2021
Immigrant Tales #2 - Namah Vyakarnam
Namah Vyakranam was born in Hyderabad, India. Her family traveled back and forth from India to the U.S. before eventually settling around Chicago, IL. After that, Namah found herself grappling with internalized racism surrounding her South Asian identity, which was often misrepresented in American society.  It all boiled over when she began to see the racism against South Asians in a post-9/11 America more clearly.  Listen to the second edition of Immigrant Tales to hear Namah's story firsthand.  Are you an Asian, African, or Middle Eastern immigrant or first-gen with a story to tell? Reach out to me on my website or through Facebook and Instagram to share your story. Thanks! - N.S. 
January 25, 2021
In Conversation w/ Karan Mahajan
In the first episode of our new mini-series "In Conversation," Nidhi sits down with novelist, essayist, and critic writer Karan Mahajan. They discuss how Karan pursued writing as someone from a conservative Indian background, terrorism as a theme in his novels, the broader Desi diaspora, South African apartheid, and more. Then, he reads a bit of his piece "The Two Asian Americas." Karan's writing has been featured in The Believer, The Daily Beast, the San Francisco Chronicle, Granta, and The New Yorker. The Two Asian Americas was in the Top 15 most-read pieces of the New Yorker in 2015, and his novel, the Association of Small Bombs, was named one of the New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2016." Check out his website for more info. 
January 11, 2021
Immigrant Tales #1 -- Chu May Paing
Welcome to the first episode of Immigrant Tales, a new subseries of Model Minority: Uniquely American! Chu May Paing is a PhD student and Burmese immigrant who first came to the United States through a visa lottery ticket. Despite having all her immigration papers and status in line, she found herself facing a multitude of barriers when she tried to find employment in the United States, with discrimination coming from both within and outside of the Asian community. In this story of adversity and resilience, we are invited to challenge our definitions of "success" and "equality" for Asian immigrants. Through Chu's eyes, we can see how even when people coming to America do everything "right," they face experiences that can be only be described as - troublingly - Uniquely American. You can find more about Chu's work on the Southeast Asian community her website here. 
December 29, 2020
Introducing: The Immigrant Tales
This clip opens with an excerpt from the author and essayist Karan Mahajan's piece in the New Yorker titled, The Two Asian Americas. Followed by that, we hear a bit more of the piece read by the author himself, who Nidhi interviewed earlier this year.  I am so excited to announce a sub-series of Model Minority: Uniquely American called Immigrant Tales. This series will consist of "mini" episodes that recount stories of success, struggle, and the journey to call this country "home," for immigrants in our model minority community. Stay tuned for these stories, along with some interviews from impactful voices in our community, such as that Karan Mahajan.  As always, shukriya for listening, and I'm glad to have you here.  
December 22, 2020
Ep 8 - One Jump Ahead of the Punchline
Media. Film. TV Representation.  For the model minority community, where do WE fit in? Model Minorities in media is an issue of more than just “not enough representation.” For some of us, it’s about bad representation too. It’s about how our countries are depicted, how we are seen in society, and the duality it causes between who we are construed to be, and what we really are. And, it seems we’ve always ended up, just one jump ahead of the punchline, or sometimes, as the punchline itself. I’m Nidhi Shastri and this is Model Minority, Uniquely American. In this episode, we discuss the issue of media representation with the case study of Apu and Disney Channel's usage of Desi characters. We look at how East Asians are often equated to whiteness in films such as "Get Out." We also examine cultural appropriation in the context of Japanese culture and anime, and then talk about the "yellow filter" placed on African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian countries. "Aladdin" by thecmn is marked with CC PDM 1.0
December 14, 2020
Ep7 - In Sickness and in Wealth
COVID-19 spread quickly, but not as quick as the racial discrimination Asians have faced with its arrival. In addition to this, the wealthiest nation in the world — the U.S. — has seen its healthcare system crumble under the demands caused by COVID-19, leading more Americans to speak up about how long the nation has been living in sickness even before the pandemic. In this episode, first, we uncover some stats and hear some stories from people who were affected by the anti-Asian rhetoric plaguing the country. Then, we speak with some medical professionals about how the U.S. Healthcare system is broken, how the cost of that falls on Asians and other minorities, and what it will take to fix it for all of us. Cover art for this episode is Healthcare" by Wolfman-K is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
November 9, 2020
Ep6 - Reframing the Rāga w/ The Indian Jam Project
In 2014, Tushar Lall banded with two friends and released a cover of the "Game of Thrones" theme song on YouTube. He did so with a twist; he arranged the piece using his knowledge of Indian classical instruments, featuring tablas (South Asia hand drums) and a bansuri (a South Asian wooden flute) to supplement his keyboard part.  353K YouTube subscribers and over 20 musical covers later, Tushar has been named one of the "Forbes Top 100 Celebrities" of India. He joins us today on Model Minority U.A. to tell us his story, how it all started at The Indian Jam Project, and the value of Indian Classical Instruments.  Check out Tushar's work here. If you liked this episode, be sure to follow both Model Minority and Tushar Lall on Instagram! My Patreon: 
October 27, 2020
Ep5 - Enigma: The Political Lives of Asian Americans
Join Model Minority: Uniquely American and Project Voice this week for a very special collaboration: Enigma - The Political Lives of Asian Americans!  In this episode, we explore reflections on why the political lives of Asian Americans are... somewhat of an enigma, or puzzle. We examine the ways in which Asians are left out of the political narrative, and how we can work to ensure we aren't simply pandered to with no benefit, or sometimes even fully left out of our country's political decisions.  The team at project voice conducted interviews with Helena Berbano of the New American Leaders in NYC, and CeCe Horbat - a student studying environmental justice in Michigan. Nidhi at Model Minority: Uniquely American produced, wrote, and narrated these interviews into story form. Shukriya/thanks for joining us on today's episode of Model Minority: Uniquely American! Follow this podcast and Project Voice on Facebook and Insta for more great, impactful podcasting! Image: "Puzzle" by Felix the Cat is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
October 12, 2020
Ep4 - The Racial Wedge
The Model Minority Myth is often used to wedge Asian Americans between Black and White America. In this episode, we explore how that is a problematic ideology, and why we need a new approach to understanding race. We also address how African immigrants are wedged between racial groups in the same way. This episode features Mo Sibyl - a fellow podcaster - and Jason Chu - and Asian American rapper. Furthermore, we look to LA Race Riots as an example of racial tensions between Blacks and Asians, and try to see what we can learn. I'm Nidhi Shastri, and this is Model Minority: Uniquely American.  The intro clip is from an interview done by Asian American activist Grace Lee Boggs. All music is from the CC Creative commons. Art: "Thick encyclopedias with colorful hardcovers" by Horia Varlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
September 29, 2020
Ep3.2 - Crazy (Not So) Rich Asians Part 2
In the second half of this episode, we explore some excerpts of stories of struggle, adversity, and resilience in our community. We also dive into the stats of ways in which Middle Eastern, African, and other parts of the model minority diaspora face economic oppression. I'm Nidhi Shastri, and this is Model Minority: Uniquely American. If you liked what I do and want to support, you can find me on Patreon: Thank you/shukriya for listening! All music in this episode is licensed to the public under the cc creative commons license. The image is "Vasudhara, diosa de la abundancia [oct 17]" by JavierPsilocybin is licensed under CC BY 2.0. 
September 14, 2020
Ep3.1 - Crazy (Not So) Rich Asians Part 1
We've all heard the idea that ALL Asians/ Model Minorities are wealthy and economically well off in America. But, if we dig into the stats and stories of our community, how much of that ideology is actually true? And for those who DO make it, at what cost is success?  In this two-part episode, we explore the socio-economic status of Asians, Africans, and Middle Eastern Americans, and work to tell some of the stories of those who perhaps, haven't quite "made it." Part 1 features the voices of Helena Ku Rhee, author of the book The Paper Kingdom, and Andrew Kung, an Asian-American photographer whose work focuses on Asian identity and masculinity. I'm Nidhi Shastri, and this is Model Minority: Uniquely American. If you liked what I do and want to support, you can find me on Patreon:  All music in this episode is licensed to the public under the cc creative commons license. The image is "Golden Fortune Cookies" by shaire productions is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Thank you/shukriya for listening! 
September 14, 2020
Ep2 - The Invisibles
What gave Asians the nickname, "the invisible minorities?"  Hi, I'm Nidhi Shastri, and in this episode, I dig into how the Asian demographic got this name and the factors within the model minority myth that erase us in the larger American narrative. Come join me in exploring how factors such as the black and white binary, the U.S. Census, and immigration patterns have led to us being named, the Invisibles. As always, shukriya for listening, and I'm glad to have you here!  All music is from the CC creative commons, census clips from CSPAN licensed to the public, and Dr. Lauretta Ross's talk is from the non-profit Western States Center's public recording. Model Minority: Uniquely American is written, produced, and hosted by Nidhi Shastri. Cover art is: "Invisible Man Sculpture, Harlem, NY" by Tony Fischer Photography -- licensed under CC BY 2.0
August 31, 2020
Ep1 - Busting the Model Minority Myth
Welcome to Model Minority: Uniquely American! I'm your host, Nidhi Shastri, thanks for being here. In today's episode, we're exploring what exactly it means to be a "model minority," and the baggage that comes with it. All music is from the CC creative commons, and the theme song Cafe Connection is by MorganTj. If you enjoyed this episode, PLEASE share it with others! Shukriya, and stay tuned for more coming soon. Want to help make it happen? My Patreon is: 
August 17, 2020
Introducing Model Minority: Uniquely American
My name is Nidhi Shastri, and I’ve created a podcast to discuss what being a Model Minority in America really looks like, the good, the bad, and the invisible.  In an effort to break down these biases and shake up our views, I'm discussing poverty, race, education, sexuality, and more in the Asian, African, and Middle Eastern diasporas. Hiding who we are and displaying who we are supposed to be, has often been a survival tactic for model minorities in America. And it's not just about our actions. Many of us feel the need to conform and stand on this painfully constricting pedestal. I’m excited to bring my work to you all. The discussion does not end when my episodes do, so feel free to ask questions and share comments right here through our page.  As always, shukria, and thank you for being here. I’m glad to have you. And welcome to Model Minority… Uniquely American.
May 13, 2020