Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Asian Americans, Brazil, & more


Last Week Tonight

The June 6 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver of course brought some humor, but also a timely discussion of Asian Americans in society.

Oliver started off the show tonight with a discussion about Great Britain, which is (fittingly) one of his greatest topics of conversation. He had a lot to discuss here when it comes to the country’s handling of the global health crisis and from here, he transferred over to a discussion about Brazil — a place that has somehow managed to do a job that is even worse.

But like we noted earlier, we’re not here to discuss the early segments or even the use of the phrase “hot vax summer” that has been done to death by local news. The main purpose of this article is discussing the treatment of Asian Americans in this country, including just how oblivious many people are to their own prejudices towards them. Take, for example, a poll that made it clear that most Americans cannot even name a famous Asian American currently alive … even though one is them is the Vice President of the United States.

One of the main points that Oliver wanted to make here is that America’s view of the AAPI community is littered with misconceptions and generations. Many Asian American men and women fall far below the poverty line, for example, and there are also different classifications and even countries that many people are oblivious to altogether. Meanwhile, there is such a long history of racism and mistreatment that dates back to how the Chinese were treated when building railroads in the 19th century. There was also a horrific policy of exclusion that even kept survivors of the Titanic from even staying in the country.

This was a powerful segment — not just when it comes to the data Oliver presented, but also the examples of prejudice that still happen across the board here. The “model minority” phrase is a blanket statement, and it is far more harmful than we can put into words here.

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