ASB takes down announcements containing “model minority myth” video

Buchanan and ASB issue apology following racially-charged video; students disagree on video’s sentiments

EagleTV featured a video created by Diversify Our Narrative on the model minority myth on Sept. 11. This video discussed the model minority myth which is the stereotype that Asian Americans have gained success in social and economic regions and that their success is concurrent with white standards of achievement. 

After hearing concerns from parents and students, the Associated Student Body took down the video from the OPHS website and the Instagram pages, and Principal Kevin Buchanan issued an apology via StudentSquare and ParentSquare. 

“We apologize for allowing a video to be shown to students today during ASB announcements that was hurtful to some of our students and families and is inconsistent with how controversial issues are handled according to OPUSD Board Policy,” Buchanan wrote in the blast. “Our school and District has no affiliation with the organization that produced the video that was embedded within the ASB announcement. ASB has removed the video from the OPHS ASB website.”

ASB also issued an apology in their EagleTV video shown on Friday Sept. 18, assuring that in the future they will make sure that all videos represent organizations within OPHS and continue to be properly approved by the administration.

“On behalf of those involved in last week’s video on the model minority myth, we would like to apologize to the people who were hurt and offended by this content,” junior and ASB social media and video announcement commissioner Amaan Nabeel said in the video. “The model minority myth video was produced by Diversify Our Narrative, who asked to have their video inserted in last Friday’s Eagle TV. In no way, shape or form was this video intended to discriminate or promote racism at the school.”

Buchanan and Superintendent Tony Knight received several emails with concerns about the video from members of OPHS families. 

“The people who emailed us felt it was poorly done, and we agree with them: it was poorly done,” Buchanan said. “They hope that we will be made more thoughtful and do a better job. People were hurt, people were upset and they expected better.”

While Buchanan himself did not see the video beforehand, Assistant Principal Jason Meskis did review and approve the video.

The administration and ASB plans to emphasize stricter review for videos before they are submitted and as they are processed. 

“There’s going to be a more rigorous review process before it’s submitted to the district [and] before it’s submitted to administration for approval,” Buchanan said. “[We will do this] to make sure that these videos are aligned with how we want to have a conversation about these issues.”

One of the concerns regarding the video was the lack of context and the way it was presented in the announcements. Buchanan believes these topics should be addressed, however a different approach is necessary.

“These are important issues that need to be discussed. We’re not going to shy away from these issues,” Buchanan said. “We can discuss them – we’re a high school, we’re sophisticated – but to just drop them on in an ASB announcement like that would not be the most ideal way to talk about sensitive issues.”

Nabeel believes that there is a lot Oak Park High School needs to do, including shifting student culture and curriculum as well as celebrating different cultures. He believes that OPHS has the potential to go in the right direction but needs the dedication of everyone to do this. 

“I encourage students to speak up on this issue right now,” Nabeel said. “We have a culture in Oak Park where we don’t want to talk. I encourage you all to keep pushing for this change, because there’s no other way they’re going to listen to us if we don’t speak.”

Rather than ceasing to post videos about discrimination altogether, Nabeel hopes OPHS will continue to tackle racial issues and educate students on this topic to better further the message of equality and standing up for others who may need it. 

“These issues: sometimes they’re not handled in the best way,” Nabeel said. “But we can talk, and we need to speak up to make sure that it will get handled in the right way. Change is coming; it’s just going to take a bit of time, and we just need to make sure that we are consistent and keep pushing.” 

Senior Ellen Lu emailed Knight and Buchanan following the posting of the video concerning its “one-sided, harmful narrative.” She does not believe that the video was created or posted with any ill intentions, though, the way in which it was presented out of context was very harmful due to its race-based presumptions.

Lu was concerned by the assertion that Asian Americans need to amplify the voices of the Black, Indigenous, and people of color community, because the way it was phrased seemed to imply that Asian Americans are not also people of color. She felt that, by separating Asian Americans from the rest of the BIPOC community, the video actually works to further the model minority myth by asserting that Asian Americans do not also undergo racial discrimination. Lu believed that the concluding question, “how can you be an ally?” was directed at Asian Americans, rather than the entire student populus. 

“The video gave the assumption that Asian Americans attending OPHS do not care about the Black Lives Matter movement and must watch a video to ‘learn,’” Lu wrote. “My Asian friends and I have signed countless petitions for the BLM movement over the summer. This statement is hateful and wrong to place upon all Asian Americans.” 

Lu hopes that people take into consideration that the generalization of any group is harmful. She feels that the video’s statement that there are “anti-Black sentiments” within the Asian American community is detrimental and only furthers stereotypes. 

Though Buchanan regrets that the issue was not handled with greater sensitivity regarding OPHS’ Asian American population, he believes that, moving forward, there will be a more thorough review process in selecting videos to show to the student body and school staff. 

“I encourage our students to make mistakes, because you learn from them, and we made a mistake and we’ll learn from it,” Buchanan said. “Our pencils have erasers too. And we need to learn from them and just do better in the future.”