Comparing “Uncle Tom” and the “Model Minority” Stereotype

This was written by Bing Chat.

I asked it to compare the two, and format it as a table. That specific prompt, to form it as a table, caused ChatGPT to find more parallel comparisons than it found without the request for a table.

Here is a table layout that compares the character of “Uncle Tom” and the “model minority stereotype”:

Uncle TomModel Minority
A Black person who is overeager to win the approval of whites by obsequious behavior or uncritical acceptance of white values and goals
A minority group or a member of such a group that is assumed to have achieved a high level of educational, economical, and professional success
A term that comes from the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, who was a pious and faithful Black slave who uses nonresistance and gives his life to protect others who have escaped from slavery
A term that originated in the 1960s as a way to contrast Asian Americans with other minorities, especially Black Americans, who were seen as troublesome, lazy, and dependent on welfare
A term that is used to criticize and shame Black people who are seen as subservient, cooperative, or traitorous to their own race
A term that is used to praise and reward minority groups or individuals who are seen as conforming, assimilating, or contributing to the dominant culture
A term that has a negative connotation and implies a lack of agency, dignity, and resistance
A term that has a positive connotation but masks a lack of recognition, diversity, and inclusion

I left out some of the preliminary language.

Below is the result of the query, without asking for a table:

The character of Uncle Tom and the model minority stereotype are both examples of how racialized groups are portrayed in ways that serve the interests of the dominant white culture. However, there are also some differences between them. Here is a possible comparison:

  • Uncle Tom is a fictional character from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was published in 1852 as an anti-slavery work. The model minority stereotype is a social construct that emerged in the mid-20th century as a way of praising Asian Americans for their perceived success and assimilation.
  • Uncle Tom is depicted as a loyal, obedient, and Christian slave who refuses to resist or rebel against his white masters, even when they abuse or kill him. The model minority stereotype portrays Asian Americans as smart, hard-working, and self-reliant individuals who achieve high levels of education, income, and social status without complaining or demanding rights.
  • Uncle Tom is seen by some readers as a sympathetic and heroic figure who sacrifices himself for the sake of others and exemplifies Christian virtues. The model minority stereotype is seen by some observers as a positive and flattering image that recognizes the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans.
  • Uncle Tom is also seen by many critics as a submissive and spineless character who betrays his own people and reinforces the legitimacy of slavery and white supremacy. The model minority stereotype is also seen by many scholars and activists as a harmful and misleading myth that erases the diversity and challenges of Asian Americans and serves as a tool of racial oppression and division.


Today, the term “uncle Tom” is used as an insult, to criticize people who are subservient to white society, and go along with the system, rather than fight the system.

The criticism of “Uncle Tom” personalities, since the 1960s, has to be understood within the context of history.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (UTC) was the second most popular book of the 19th century, after the Bible.

UTC was a powerful anti-slavery work that exposed the horrors and cruelty of enslavement to a wide audience. Stowe used characters and scenes to appeal to the emotions and conscience of her readers. She wanted them to empathize with the enslaved people and to support the abolitionist cause. Her novel sparked a lot of controversy and debate, and it influenced the public opinion and politics of her time. It also inspired other writers and activists to speak out against slavery and injustice. Stowe’s novel is considered one of the most influential books in American history.

UTC was written by a white woman author, for a white, Northern audience. The character was a kind of “model minority” invented to appeal to white, Christian Northerners. It was a counter to the dehumanizing ideas about Black people common at the time.

Was Uncle Tom a “house slave”?

Technically, no. He was a head slave in the field, but not a house slave. So he was like a supervisor. That’s somewhat like a house slave — but Tom wasn’t an asshole. He wasn’t hated by the people he supervised.

Tom was sold by a “kind master” to a “cruel master”, Simon Legree.

At Legree’s, Tom helped two slaves escape. When he was found out, Legree ordered two slaves, Quimbo and Sambo, to whip Tom to death.

The two who aligned with the white master were Quimbo and Sambo, not Tom.

So, were radicals wrong to use “Uncle Tom” as an insult?

I don’t think so. The book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was popular with white people, specifically because it had this “noble, suffering slave” stereotype, that elevated a specific type of Black person as a kind of “model minority”.

Uncle Tom’s non-resistance to violence against him was reminiscent of white demands for nonviolent protest, and against self defense or armed resistance.

The novel didn’t reflect the slave or rebellious slave’s perspective.

So, with time, criticism of the book, and criticism of the characters, and criticism of actual people coalesced into “Uncle Tom” as an insult.

It might be useful to deconstruct the Model Minority myth by looking at its origins, and how it’s applied to actual people, and how it’s used as an insult. I won’t do it here, but it’s one way to think about how we use the term today.


Handel vs. Mendelssohn

Handel often sounds like the song from Masterpiece Theater. I feel like I’m listening to the monarchy.

Mendelssohn is more exciting and fun. Let’s get the party started.

This is a toss up for me, but I give the win to Mendelssohn.


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How to Use the New AI Chatbots, ChatGPT and Bing Chat AI

This is a beginner guide to learning these new tools. What are these, and why would we want to know or use these technologies?

AI chatbots are computer programs that generate text based on prompts, which are text you type into the chat dialogue.




Changing Emails is Hard

I’ve had my old address,, for more than 20 years. I think. I don’t remember when I first established email for my own domain. I remember picking the domain out around 1998, when the first domain land rush happened.

I probably set up the email on the Cyberjava servers. I don’t remember anymore. Later, it was on the Slaptech server.

Now, I’m trying to change over 400 different accounts that might have this old address associated with it. It’s hard, but necessary.

Why? Because if I sell the domain, the next person could use the email address to access my abandoned accounts.

So I’m logging into websites, changing email addresses, and deleting accounts, if that’s even possible.

I now have 187 sites left to visit.


Promoting the New Email

I sent out around 450 emails telling people about the new addresses. I don’t know that many people. I just had emails from all kinds of lists, and just threw them together into a big list, and did a mass mail promoting the new addresses. I also gave them a web form to fill to be removed from the address book, or to augment their contact info.

Nearly half bounced.

The “good list” settled down to around 230 addresses. Now I just need to wait for people to fill a form to be removed.

Local Uncategorized

Reupholstering an Old Chair’s Seat with Scrap Fabric

A work in progress – how to reupholster a chair seat for cheap or free, with scrap fabric and recycled stuffing. These pictures show some of the progress.

This chair’s seat had torn, and the foam was coming out. I wanted to reupholster it, but for as little money as possible.

I watched a few YouTube videos about reupholstering seats, and the pros seem to be able to do it in 20 minutes. What you see above is the result of three hours of work! It’s still not finished.

Of course, the people doing the seats professionally have better tools, like pneumatic staplers. They also use new fabric, foam cut into shape, and the seats they’re fixing aren’t quite as messed up as this one. They also end up doing a nicer job, but this is my first seat, ever, so, I’m happy with the work so far.

Almost Free Fabric

Upholstery fabric is pretty expensive. I’ve seen it going for $20 a yard downtown.

I don’t have a hookup for fabric, so I turned to my usual sources: my own clothes. I had some blue denim left over from when I cut my pants into cutoffs. These were denim with a little stretch yarn in there – and I think that was a bad fabric to choose, because stretch is bad.

The other fabric is a pair of shorts that developed a rip in the side. So I cut it apart and got a big scrap of fabric to augment the blue denim.

I think the price of the pants was $2 from the Goodwill Outlet. $2 for both. They don’t have that pricing anymore. If you’re in Southern California, you can get pants for a dollar at any Goodwill on Thursdays, when they do their $1 sale. You can also find drapes at the Goodwill Outlet, and I think they charge $2.50.

My scrap pieces of fabric were sewn together by hand. It took over an hour to get these three pieces together, because I don’t use a sewing machine.

Free Stuffing

Batting and fill material is freaking expensive. Just look up “batting” or “fill”. A 5 pound bag of dacron fill is $25. 1 pound is $14. It’s the shipping that makes it expensive.

Foam is also pretty expensive. 22″ x 22″ x 2″ foam at Home Depot is $6.

The cheap way around this is to find an old pillow. You probably have one that’s kind of disgusting, but you keep using it, instead of spending $7 to buy a new pillow. Use the fill from that.

What I did was even cheaper. My housemate was throwing out a broken stuffed chair/recliner. I got the knife out and removed the stuffing, which was conveniently in these thin paper fabric bags. I got a huge 30 gallon trashbag worth out of it. I also got additional upholstery fabric!

So, keep an eye on the curb, and if you spot some not-too-shabby, cheap furniture being thrown out, take a good sniff to see that it’s not totally disgusting… if it’s OK, you can harvest the filling, batting, and even the upholstery material.

Dismantling the Old Seat

The YouTube videos had tips on how to take apart the old seat. You should watch and follow them. You need to get at least these tools.

Stapler, awl, pliers, gloves, scissors, needle, thread.

To tear the old seat apart, you need an awl. This is absolutely necessary and costs around $5 to $10 at a hardware store. It’s the only way you’re going to remove the old staples.

You use the pliers, or better, “dykes” if you have them. Dykes are a sexist slang for side cutters. They’re used to cut wire, but more importantly, they can grip the staples to pull them out.

Wear gloves or you’ll get splinters and cuts all over your hands.

So, all I did was remove the old fabric, remove the foam, and try to remove all the old staple bits. It took a long time, probably an hour, but I had some prior experience from another chair I’m working on, so the first time, it should take a while. Be careful and don’t hold anything in a way where the awl can slip and stab you. Always hold the seat from the side, and push the awl away, while you twist it to get under the staple.

Attaching the New Fabric and Stuffing

I’m a total newbie so I just made it up. I tacked the fabric on the front side of the seat, and adjusted it so it was kind of straight. Then I tacked across all the front.

I then folded over the sides, but didn’t tack them. I pulled the fabric on the front forward around half an inch (so I’m adding a full inch of height at the front). Then I did the same to the sides. I put in a few preliminary tacks on the sides. These are temporary.

The whole thing formed a “bag”, and I stuffed the bag with the fill. It took a lot of fill, and I pushed it down. However, I didn’t push enough, because I didn’t stuff the corners enough.

Next, I pulled the back part over, and tacked it in with one staple. This was a temporary one

Then, I pulled one side tight. This was pulling the fabric toward the center line around an inch, so the stuffing would get tight. I stapled the material down.

I ran out of staples.

Finishing it off will be pretty simple. I will pull the other side down, tight, about an inch toward the center line. Then I’ll fix up the corners so they aren’t so ugly – but I won’t be able to really get them right because they weren’t started right.

Then, I’ll pull the back down an inch, maybe more, to tighten up the front-to-back tension, and staple that down. I want to seat to feel like a seat, not a pillow.

Bugs and Fixes

The front corners weren’t stuffed enough, and are just “flat”. You can feel the wood seat. It’s not cool. If I do this again, I’ll try to stuff the corners with old foam, so I could get a good “shape” on the corner.

I’d also consider stuffing the edges with rolls of fabric, or something harder than fill.

I bought the wrong stapler. That’s an Arrow T50, which is the classic big stapler. It’s too big. The right stapler is one step down and uses thinner staples. I got my stapler on auction on Ebay, for $12, so it wasn’t too bad. I’ll keep using it, but a smaller one would have been better, and easier on the hands.

I think the smaller one is the JT21. Look for any stapler that is compatible with JT21 staples.

There You Go

When this isht is done, it’s going to look pretty cool and feel super comfy. It’s all fabric, so it’s nude-ass compatible. It’s all DIY and trashy-looking. For real DIY, not just looking like DIY. Real trashé.


Everyone Hates ICE

A part of ICE wants to leave ICE behind and get a new agency with a different three-letter-acroynm, because everyone hates ICE. People in Huntington Park called the cops on ICE.




Taking Over “Public School”

As public schools are being decimated through corporate takeovers by charters, the idea of “public schools” seems to have become a new hipster relic.


Taking Over “Public School”

As public schools are being decimated through corporate takeovers by charters, the idea of “public schools” seems to have become a new hipster relic.