OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates

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OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Challenges ‘Model Minority’ Myth to Close Digital Access Gaps

During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, organizations that had not previously focused on digital inclusion work scrambled to help their communities stay connected as school, healthcare, and other services transitioned online.

OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA) was one of these organizations, and in advocating for the digital access needs of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs), found that there was not much data documenting connectivity gaps within these communities. The "model minority" myth, which characterizes AANHPIs as one monolithic group, enjoying “uniform high achievement and high income, [and] relatively untouched by racial and ethnic discrimination,” obscures the digital access gaps in many AANHPI communities and has likely contributed to the dearth of research investigating AANHPI connectivity needs.

OCA Broadband Access and Digital Equity Fellow Yen Jeong told ILSR how difficult it has been to challenge the model minority myth: “Every time we say that our communities need more [digital access] support, everyone says that Asian Americans are digitally already very fluent,” Jeong said, adding that the assumption that many AANHPIs have tech jobs makes it especially difficult for OCA to galvanize support for the AANHPI-focused digital inclusion work.

"It’s been really tough to challenge the narrative."  

The assumption that all AANHPIs are connected to the Internet, along with the lack of evidence to break down this assumption, impeded OCA’s efforts to rally support for AANHPIs’ digital access needs, made urgent by the pandemic. Motivated to get all AANHPIs online, OCA launched a major data collection campaign to challenge the model minority narrative and build the foundation for its newest area of advocacy – technology, workforce, and digital inclusion.  

OCA’s Entry to Digital Inclusion