White feminists and other liberals advanced this feel-good fantasy with celebrations of Asian American culture and people.
The result was a triple pressure on Asian women to conform to the docile, warm, upwardly mobile stereotype that liberals, conservatives, and their own community members all wanted to promote.
However, conservative and mainstream institutions supported these "model minority" activities because it implied there was a "good" minority in tacit opposition to the "bad" minorities -- African Americans and Latinos.
At the same time, the model minority myth helped countless struggling Asian Americans start businesses and send their kids to Ivy League schools, and was thus consciously upheld by Asian American community leaders.
In the pre-World War II years, close to half of all Japanese American women were employed as servants or laundresses in the San Francisco area. government officials thoughtfully arranged for their employment by fielding requests, most of which were for servants.
The World War II internment of Japanese Americans made them especially easy to exploit: they had lost their homes, possessions, and savings when forcibly interned at the camps, Yet, in order to leave, they had to prove they had jobs and homes. The first wave of Asian women's organizing formed out of the Asian American movement of the 1960s, which in turn was inspired by the civil rights movement and the anti-Viet Nam War movement.
Asian women organizers have been at the forefront of these campaigns.