Model Minority for Mayor?!


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

PNN staff writer examines the possibility of Police Chief Lau running for Mayor of San Francisco

by Mari-PNN Youth in the Media intern

When I was in high school I read a short story called Streets of Gold: The Myth of the Model Minority by Curtis Chang. This story talked about how API (Asian Pacific Islanders) peoples are labeled as the "Model Minority". The "Model Minority" is an idea and a myth that has the belief since API peoples have supposedly achieved the "American dream", that something is wrong with all other people of color because they have not achieved this so-called achievable dream. In his story he showed that the "Model Minority" belief is a myth. In talking about the Model Minority Chang stated, "It distorts Asian-Americans’ true status and ignores our racial handicaps...It attempts to justify the existing system of racial inequality by blaming the victims rather than the system itself."

A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of a San Francisco weekly newspaper called AsianWeek. Asianweek calls themselves the voice of Asian America. This is the only english written API newspaper in the nation. The journalists are also API. On the cover of the magazine there was a picture of Police Chief Fred Lau. The heading said stated The Art of Leadership: Police Chief Fred Lau Makes the Mark. This heading reminded me of the headings Chang stated in his story that he saw in several newspapers. For example, America's Super Minority, The Ultimate Assimilation, Why they succeed, The Triumph of Asian Americans just name a few headlines. When I saw Lau's face I automatically thought about the "Model Minority" myth.

The way the article was written it seemed like they were saying Chief Lau is good for the API community. It stated that he is the first Chinese American Police Chief. That he helps out the community, he leads Chinese style, and that he might be the future Mayor of San Francisco.

It also gave some background information about how he got to be a police officer. He applied to be a police officer, but was 3/4 of an inch shorter than the SFPD (San Francisco Police Department) required height measurement back in 1970. He would hang himself upside down with his feet held in stirrups and weighed himself down with a 50-pound barbell. He did this hoping that he would grow taller, and that he would be able to become a Police Officer. This reminds me of the time I had to rapidly lose weight so I could join the Army. I weighed about 160 pounds. The Army’s requirement for me at the time was that I weigh 135 pounds or less. I have big bone structure, and a body supposed to be thick, not skinny, and being 140 or less is skinny for me. So I was put on a crash grapefruit diet just so I could lose weight. I ate barely anything and I drank or ate grapefruit all the time. When it was time for me to get weighed by the Army, I didn’t eat anything that morning, and I also even wore a gurdle panty, which allows a woman to suck in her weight. Well, I did not pass the weight requirement, or the administered body fat test. I had too much fat on my body by their standards. Well, in the end I did pass because my guridle panties were holding everything in. The person who administered my test still passed me, even though she knew I had too much body fat by the Army’s standards.

The writer makes a claim that ever since Lau became the San Francisco Police Chief crime has gone down. That serious crime has gone down 1.2 percent overall. The article thinks that only with Lau mad crime goes down. How about rehabilitation programs?.. that could also have to do something with lower crime rates. There is no way possible one person can be responsible for lowering crime rates. There are in fact a numerous amount of reasons why crime went down.

The writer of the article also stated that according to a poll, 57 percent gave Lau’s performance a strong favorable rating. What percentage of the population was polled? I was not. Most people in my community would not ever give a police officer a strong favorable rating.

A few months ago, I attended a few Police Commission meetings where the topic was about Idriss Stelley. He was a young man of color who had a psychiatric crisis and instead of the cops helping him they killed him. At the meeting, Lau was present. Person after person came up and said, "Release the names of the witnesses and the police officers now!" Lau is one of the people who had the power to do this. It has been over 8 months now, and the names have still not been released. If Chief Lau is so good for our community why haven't these names been released? Is this what we can expect of this model minority if he becomes the mayor of San Francisco?

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