Bernadette N. Lim, a Harvard student working on degrees in human evolutionary biology and women/gender/sexuality studies, pens a fascinating editorial on being an Asian-American at an Ivy League school.

I am a third generation Asian-American woman at Harvard, and I despise living under the impression that I belong to the “model minority.” For a label that sounds so positive in tone, living under this stereotype has been anything but ideal.

In high school and at Harvard, I have encountered the consequences of living under the model minority myth constantly. My personal and academic achievements are the result of simply “being Asian.” My interests in biology and physics in high school were “typical,” and being stereotyped as “too smart” garnered unwarranted envy and competition from classmates and friends. My achievements weren’t considered the byproduct of hard work; they were simply expected and representative of the Asian-American model minority stereotype.

Many believe that the model minority label allows me to ride on the coattails of my ethnicity, giving me a “one-up boost” ahead of others. Yet to me, the model minority myth has done nothing but strip me of my humanity.

….Perhaps the most poignant repercussion of the model minority label is the assumption that being “Asian” is an automatic guarantor of success, a mark of coming from a “privileged” racial group that has “achieved more and struggled less” than other minority groups. The model minority myth has thus undermined the formation of positive relationships among minority groups by preventing the recognition of the intersection among racial histories. It is more than simple chance that the appearance of the “model minority” term coincided with the rise of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and Chicano Civil Rights Movement. Why don’t we acknowledge this? The model minority myth is a wedge that impedes solidarity, emphasizing differences in socioeconomic outcomes rather than commonality in the historic struggle for civil rights.

By being part of the model minority, I am expected to feel nothing less than gratitude and honor for being labeled through a “positive stereotype.” Yet focus on the upper echelons of the Asian-American population has rendered everyone else invisible. In grouping all Asian Americans as high achievers, avid students, and career climbers, society fails to acknowledge the nuance and disparity. “Asian American” encompasses a diverse range of dialects and ethnicities (and of course, a diverse umbrella of individual, personal, human experiences within those subgroups).

I am not a model minority and never will be. No such thing exists.