Ethnic entrepreneurship supposedly symbolizes minority uplift based on principles of free choice, free markets, and limited government support. Within this neoliberal framework Asian American business owners have become yet another version of the “model minority,” a population other minorities should emulate for their hard work and resourcefulness and whose achievements indicate a meritocratic United States. Ethnic niches, that is industry- or product-specific stores commonly associated with an ethnic group, have been heralded by politicians and minority communities themselves. So, more than simply an economic term, the entrepreneur (i.e., one who finds or creates opportunities and products, often through self-employment) is an ideological construct.

In truth, Asian Americans’ entrepreneurship often results from their discriminatory treatment as unwanted foreigners within a capitalist system exploitative of minorities. Early Asian immigrants entered self-employment in response to the low wages and harsh conditions of paid labor and punitive immigration laws. By the late 1880s, Chinese …

This essay may be found on page 73 of the printed volume.

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