'Not Your Model Minority' t-shirts make big statement during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Some former University of Central Florida students are making a big statement during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, creating a t-shirt to help educate people.

At Impress Ink, the shirt is a very important topic. One of the t-shirt's creators, Jonnie Mildner, explains the message on this shirt, which reads "Not Your Model Minority."

Mildner explains. "The ’model minority' term started after World War II and the majority in America were saying that the Japanese had succeeded and made it out of internment camps and were working hard and getting good jobs."

These days, the term model minority is seen by many Asians as a discriminating stereotype, implying all Asian Americans are good at math, engineering, and computers. 

"Model Minority today has really become this prejudice against the Asians,"  Mildner says.

He, and three other former UCF students who were in the same Asian fraternity, designed the t-shirts to raise awareness and educate people. 

Phreezy Naufaldy says proceeds go towards the organization Stop AAPI Hate

"We were able to raise a little over a $1,000!" he told FOX 35 News.

Now, they’re selling even more during this special month.  They add that, in the current climate rocked by violence against the Asian community, the t-shirts are a simple way to educate others. 

"With the violent acts and the racism people have less sympathy," Mildner said.

He said that sometimes, people don't realize they are saying something inappropriate. For example, when he was at a restaurant recently, he overheard a father and son talking about him. 

"A kid said, ‘Hey Dad,  look! A Chinaman!’ I was waiting for the dad to correct him and the dad said, ‘Yes son, that’s a Chinaman!’ I couldn’t believe it." 

Why is it wrong?  First of all, Mildner is Korean.

"It just continues to be a racial term and inappropriate term. We just need to educate people, help people understand."

The shirts are $20 and will be offered through the month of May. If you’re interested in buying one, visit their website.

Mildner says Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, Inc. nationwide is also raising donations for Stop AAPI Hate.

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