Archive for Asians
As a byproduct of the recent presidential campaign, a troubling and explicit depiction of China as the primary source of America’s recessionary loss of jobs and economic woes reached a new level. A video presented by in stark black and white tones by the Citizens against Government Waste (CAGW), a fiscally conservative non-profit organization, creates a sense of impending doom by portraying America’s future failure to China’s economic insurgency. Set in Beijing in 2030 A.D., this politically-based video is in Chinese with English subtitles and shows a meeting of Chinese citizens held in Beijing led by a Machiavellian-like Chinese leader. The sinister-looking leader attributes America’s failure to spending and taxing itself out of a great recession through enormous “stimulus” spending, massive changes to healthcare and crushing debt. He derisively declares, “Now they work for us,” while the Chinese audience laughs appreciatively and gleefully.
This explicit calling out of China as the principal reason for America’s economic woes occurred on several fronts during the campaign and was bipartisan in nature. As Zachary Karabell, president of River Twice Research, points out in his article, “Don’t blame China for America’s decline”, the Obama administration has intensified pressure on Chinese trade and investments that have made it difficult for some American companies such as solar panel installers to compete. And in the town hall debates, Mitt Romney declared emphatically,
On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator which will allow me as President to be able to put in place if necessary tariffs where I believe they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers. So we are going to make sure the people that we trade with around the rules are playing by the rules.
Karabell points out also that this trend has occurred in other presidential campaigns: in 1992, Bill Clinton accused President George H.W. Bush of coddling Chinese dictators, while in 2004 John Kerry called corporate leaders “Benedict Arnold CEOs” for shipping jobs to China.
What is worrisome about this anti-Asian virulence is the possible return to historical animosity toward Americans of Asian descent that expressed itself in Anti-Asian legislation and actions over more than a century. Recall the so-called “yellow peril” ascribed to the influx of Asian immigrant labor to the West coast in the 19th century and the resulting Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that that sprang up in response and was not repealed until 1943. Or the wholesale internment of 100,000 Japanese Americans in camps during World War II.
Note also in the present-day example the lack of accountability ascribed to American corporations who have chosen to outsource work overseas, in search of cheap labor and greater profitability. While clearly the Chinese Communist government represents the antithesis of American democratic practices toward its people, the “rise of the rest” as Fareed Zakaria puts it in The Post-American World means that globalization is creating a new and highly competitive economic playing field. Tom Friedman in his famous book, The World is Flat notes that the current phase of globalization will be driven by a diverse group of individuals likely to be non-Western and nonwhite. In Bridging the Diversity Divide: Globalization and Reciprocal Empowerment in Higher Education, Alvin Evans and I describe globalization as a catalyst and mandate for remedying underrepresentation and achieving greater inclusion in our American institutions.
In Karabell’s view, American prosperity “will not be determined by decisions made in Beijing” but by “how American approaches the global economy of the 21st century.” He concludes:
If the U.S. focuses on nurturing the optimism, drive and skills that yield . . . results in the 20th century, it will thrive; if Americans obsess about looming threats from the East, it may indeed enter the economic twilight. The choice is ours.
In this era of globalization, the strength of our demographically diverse nation lies in our ability to rise above the distinctions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability to achieve success. When mischaracterizations and exaggerations occupy our mindsets and airwaves, then we are less able to draw upon the strength of our representative democracy, the capabilities of our diverse citizenry, and our capacity for innovation.
Some 18 million Asian Americans make up today nearly 6 percent of the population, a figure than has grown from one percent before the 1965 Immigration Act replaced an openly racist immigration system set up in the 1920s. This reform law of the 1960s allowed into the U.S. a much greater diversity of immigrants.
A recent report titled “The Rise of Asian Americans” has been published on the Pew Research Center website, with much interesting – if somewhat poorly assessed – statistical data on Asian Americans, much of it from a 2012 survey Pew did.
Much of the tone of the report is a “model minority” one, as in this opening statement:
Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success. . . .
The report accents the “milestones of economic success and social assimilation.” There are no qualifiers in this opening Pollyanna-ism that signal the racial and other societal problems Asian Americans face, including discrimination from whites with power over them and extremely heavy outside pressures on them as “forever foreign” to “assimilate.” Some discussion of barriers appears much later in the Pew analysis, and it is insufficient. Oddly, too, there is little citation of the relevant social science literature on the reality of everyday racism for Asian Americans, such as this recent book that Rosalind Chou and I did.
Still, there is much interesting data in the report. It cites data indicating that three quarters of Asian Americans are foreign-born immigrants, and that half say they cannot speak English very well. Being immigrants means a reality that some social science literature indicates makes publicly noting and organizing against discrimination they face much more difficult. Just getting situated in jobs and housing, and getting adjusted to a new country takes precedence in many cases—as the data on half not knowing English well indicates–and thus conformity to white folkways, to a white-dominated society, can become a passive anti-discrimination strategy. If you talk, dress, and act as “white” as you can, perhaps you will suffer fewer racial barriers.
The report notes that Asian American immigrants are the fastest growing group of immigrants, now surpassing Latinos in that regard. Especially interesting is the large proportion that come from the middle and upper middle class of their home countries:
More than six-in-ten (61%) adults ages 25 to 64 who have come from Asia in recent years have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is double the share among recent non-Asian arrivals….
They average more educational attainment than the populations of their home countries as well. While there are significant numbers of legal immigrants who are not from these relatively affluent backgrounds, a great many do come from such backgrounds–and that is one reason they tend to do better than the average American in terms of upward socioeconomic mobility:
. . . especially when compared with all U.S. adults, whom they exceed not just in the share with a college degree (49% vs. 28%), but also in median annual household income ($66,000 versus $49,800) and median household wealth ($83,500 vs. $68,529).
The report fails to note, like many other commentators, that a great many come with very significant socioeconomic resources. In some sense, our legal immigration system often “creams off” from the world’s middle and upper middle classes. That is also one reason that Asian American immigrants do better on average that Latino immigrants, many of whom are relatively poor and undocumented. One does not need racialized notions of “Asian culture” and “Hispanic culture” to explain this differential socioeconomic mobility.
The report uses the 2012 survey of Asian Americans to play up certain common images of Asian Americans, such as their “strong emphasis on family”:
More than half (54%) say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in life; just 34% of all American adults agree. Two-thirds of Asian-American adults (67%) say that being a good parent is one of the most important things in life; just 50% of all adults agree.
The survey also used some rather simplistic questions about “hard work,” and found that “Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard, a view shared by a somewhat smaller share of the American public as a whole (58%).” More than 90 percent thought their country-mates were very hardworking.
Down in the report they finally note significant socioeconomic differentials and problems faced within the “model minority”:
Americans with Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and “other U.S. Asian” origins have a higher poverty rate than does the U.S. general public, while those with Indian, Japanese and Filipino origins have lower rates.
Not much discussion is devoted to this important finding, nor to the reality that large percentages of these Asian Americans do not yet know English very well (and thus do not seem to easily fit the “high assimilation” tone of the article).
The report offers some important summaries of variations in geographic patterns of residence, and religious identifications. There is also significant variability in how the immigrants came to the United States. The Vietnamese mostly came as political refugees, while
half of all Korean and Indian immigrants who received green cards in 2011 got them on the basis of employer sponsorship, compared with about a third of Japanese, a fifth of Chinese, one-in-eight Filipinos and just 1% of Vietnamese.
Educational and family reasons account for most of the others.
After noting in a cursory way that much Asian immigrants faced large-scale racial discrimination and being “othered,” the report concludes that the (problematical) Pew survey data questions show that Asian Americans do not face much racial discrimination. Only one in five said they faced “discrimination” because they were Asian, and only 13 percent said that “discrimination” against their group was a major problem.
One would have thought that these researchers might have looked at the research literature and realized that “discrimination” is often an intimidating word for (especially newer) Americans of color, and that there are much better ways to ask about the specific racial barriers they face—including often using softer language and, most importantly, asking about a significant list of possible racial mistreatments that have been reported in previous studies. The report also operates from a white racial frame in talking about the “perception of discrimination” on the part of their Asian American respondents–a common white-generated way to downplay the importance of discrimination as somehow just “in the minds” of those people of color who are targeted by it. And the white perpetrators of racial discrimination targeting Asian Americans , past and present, are never mentioned.
The report also discusses, as many other commentaries to, the relatively high level of outmarriage for Asian American newlyweds, a figure about 29 percent for those married from 2008 to 2010, more than for any other racial group. Women are much more likely to out-marry than men, a reality linked partially to the negative images of Asian American men in this society ( and ignored in this report) and fully explained in a new book by Rosalind Chou.
A very interesting report that deserves much more critical analysis and assessment in regard to immigrants and the U.S. future than the Pew researchers provide.
The MSNBC website has a nice summary of the new census data a lot of folks are talking about, titled “Census: Minorities now surpass whites in US births.”
According to census bureau figures for 2011 the children born, for the first time, are majority not white:
Minorities made up roughly 2.02 million, or 50.4 percent of U.S. births in the 12-month period ending July 2011. That compares with 37 percent in 1990.
And even with some decrease in Latin American and Asian immigrants, because of the economic downturn in the U.S. and some improvements south of the U.S. border, the population of the U.S. is still becoming ever more diverse.
There was this interesting bit of data as well:
. .the nation’s minority population continues to rise, following a higher-than-expected Hispanic count in the 2010 census. Minorities increased 1.9 percent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 percent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years. . . . 348 of the nation’s 3,143 counties, or 1 in 9, have minority populations across all age groups that total more than 50 percent.
Still, the growth rate fell for Latino and Asian American populations to just two percent last year,
.. roughly half the rates in 2000 and the lowest in more than a decade. . .. Of the 30 large metropolitan areas showing the fastest Hispanic growth in the previous decade, all showed slower growth in 2011 than in the peak Hispanic growth years of 2005-2006…
Over at the NY Times, Thomas Edsall, has some interesting comments on the political implications of these shifts, which I recommend to you. Here is a sample:
. . . it’s interesting that the two-party system has not imploded. In the face of sustained centrifugal upheaval — including a proliferation of religious affiliations, the enfranchisement of substantial minority populations, rising levels of economic inequality, and the belief among a plurality of voters… that our economic system (capitalism) and the religious identification of three-quarters of the electorate (Christianity) are not compatible — we still are a nation of Republicans and Democrats.
He makes some interesting points about some opinion poll findings on how people see the Christian religion and capitalism (as in tension, a real surprise there) and also wonders out loud about the future of US parties and especially the Republican party. Can it adapt in this changing demographic world that
threatens its ability to compete nationally? As presently constituted, the Republicans have become the party of the married white Christian past.
This issue and related issues are ones I have dealt with deeply and historically in context in my new book, White Party, White Government.
There are clearly many political and policy implications to these demographic changes. Given the explosion of anti-immigrant nativism in this country in recent years, one can wonder if the mostly white nativists will take these data to heart and cut back at least on their anti-immigrant screed. One also has to wonder if the declining immigration will have any effects on the anti-immigrant legislation passed in numerous states. Especially with the looming Supreme Court ruling that will come down on the Arizona anti-Latino-immigrant law that has been celebrated in some white conservative circles.
Yet, many of us find these changes exciting and healthy for a country that has long depended on a diverse immigration for its social and economic health.
The Pew Hispanic Center has an important new report on undocumented immigrants, which leads with this summary:
Nearly two-thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in this country for at least 10 years and nearly half—4.7 million—are parents of minor children, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Such data should put a different spin on much of the political debate about these immigrants. Nearly two thirds are longterm residents of 10 years or more. And add in those who have been here 5-10 years and you have an overwhelming majority of these mostly hard working immigrants being fairly longterm residents. And many others among the undocumented are minor children who have only known the United States as their country. Many of these youth mostly know just US ways, customs, the English language, and such.
Moreover, without these mostly Latino and Asian Americans, immigrants and their children, this country would likely be dying demographically, like many European countries.
Thus, it is amazing just how backward, ignorant, and extreme much of the political discussion of this probably necessary immigration is in this very troubled and increasingly xenophobic country. Generating such ignorance seems to be a major (necessary?) product of our capitalistic media and often arch-conservative political and public discussions.
The fix is in, as they say. The announcement has been made. The ideological royal guard of racial stratification is standing at attention. There is a change of the guard in terms of the covenant title, (insert the sound of trumpets please), “Model Minority.” Previously I was swayed by the weight of a 2008 Journal of African American Studies article, “Race, Gender and Progress: Are Black American Women the New Model Minority?” by Amadu Jacky Kaba. This scholar asserts that Black females, despite the effects of slavery, gender discrimination, and racial oppression were slowly becoming the new model minority. Black females were described as replacing Eastern and Southern Asians upon the white pedestal for other minority groups to be in awe of.
Many do not know the term “model minority” was coined by sociologist William Peterson in a 1966 New York Times magazine essay entitled, “Success Story: Japanese American Style.” The piece made the argument that despite their experiences with historical marginalization, Asian Americans have attained “success” (whatever that means in this country), due to strong families, respect for education, and work ethic. In later years the media provided an array of articles and coverage that exhibited this point. In essence they were all nationally and internationally stressing the strength of the poignant question—“Why can’t Blacks get their act together?” The term by many is viewed as both racist and divisive. It was created by the White elite to serve as a way to downplay the effects of racism on Blacks while publicly blaming Blacks, the victim, for their own political, economic, and social status.
In my research, I have seen the trends of Black female graduation (high school, bachelors, and advanced degrees) increase while Black males have dropped. I have noticed the increase of Black females attaining corporate, medical, and legal jobs. I have also noticed the declining number of Black males entering the educational programs needed to attain these positions. I have seen the young Black male faces entering into a prison system that is plastered wall to wall with their image. The health and suicide rates fare no better. When taking this into account, I was not so sure the predicted change of guard would occur.
This was not until I became aware of the emerging research by Dudley Poston at Texas A&M, that points to China, which replaces Mexico (Mexican immigrants) as the new U.S. source for low wage workers coming to the US. He goes on to assert that the sentiment, legal maneuvers, and overall disdain targeting Mexican workers we have witnessed in the past few years will possibly be refocused on the replacing low-wage Asian worker. Due to this I feel that the outlook on Asians as the supposed “model” will cease to exist. They too will be blamed for the same issues Mexican workers are blamed for today. This will give way to a new champ to be elected in order to continue the divide between people of color, and at the same time sustaining the existing racist oppressive conditions that keep Blacks and Latinos down.
Unlike the application of the frame of Asian Americans, I feel that the ramifications of promoting Black females as the new model minority will not only negatively impact race relations, but the social relationship between Black males and females. What can we do? We know the social and psychological damage the previous model has done to world. Therefore there is no excuse. I challenge you as a scholar and/or citizen of social justice to push back. We have to point out what this divisive tactic is to the world—destructive.
When Maclean’s magazine’s annual University Ranking was released in November 2010, reporters Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Köhler interviewed students, professors and administrators concerning campus racial balance and its implications. The resulting story was titled: “Too Asian?”
Among those interviewed were Alexandra and Rachel, graduates of Toronto’s Havergal College, an all-girls private school. When deciding which university to attend they
didn’t even bother considering the University of Toronto because, according to the students the “only people from our school who went [there] were Asian. All the white kids … go to Queen’s, Western and McGill.”
A worldwind followed. Comments posted on the Internet and in other media suggested that by publishing the article, Maclean’s viewed Canadian universities as “Too Asian,” and/or that the editorial staff and writers held negative views of Asian students.
The editorial staff at Maclean’s promptly spoke out in response: “Nothing could be further from the truth,” they said, explaining that the title, ‘Too Asian?’ was a direct quote from the name of a 2006 panel discussion at the meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling “where experts examined the growing tendency among U.S. university admission officers to view Asian applicants as a homogenous group.”
The editorial staff went on to explain that
the evidence suggests some of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. have abandoned merit as the basis for admission for more racially significant—and racist—criteria.
They go on to state that “the trend toward race-based admission policies in some American schools [is] deplorable.” They then claim that Canadian universities select students regardless of race or creed.
In fact, this stance was distinctly stated in the original article:
Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so,
Findlay and Köhler wrote.
This Canadian cannot help but be reminded of the prevalence of such myths, which feature both nonsequitur and grotesque denials of historical (and current) injustices. Despite claims of race-neutrality as a preferred ideal, Canada is actually a racialized society – “race” remains a key variable in influencing people’s identities, experiences, and outcomes.
In addition to Canadian institutions purportedly operating as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, it seems that we have no history of colonialism either (insert sarcastic tone here). “We also have no history of colonialism,” says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In 2009 the Canadian Prime Minister made the above declaration. And let us remember that this is the same Prime Minister who in 2008 made an official government apology for the residential school system that aimed explicitly to obliterate Indigenous culture and identity.
Such outrageous claims are evidence of profound ignorance and pervasive racism-fuelled historical amnesia and denial, which continue to plague Canadian society.
Kyla E. Doll and Crystal S. Van Den Bussche are undergraduates at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. Kimberley A. Ducey is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, University of Winnipeg.
Our “famous” talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh now often get away with aggressively racist comments and performances. We have sunk so low that we as a country give them of millions of dollars to create this high level of disrespect for people who are a little different. In a recent comment using stereotyped mocking of the Chinese president we got this racist framing from Limbaugh:
Hu Jintao — he was speaking and they weren’t translating. They normally translate every couple of words. Hu Jintao was just going ching chong, ching chong cha.
He continued for a bit more with this mocking stereotyped dialect. This is the type of stereotyped mocking that all too many schoolchildren—mainly white children–do on the playground, and apparently in this regard Limbaugh is living out what he learned as a nine or ten year old on the playground. He is not alone in this racist mocking, as I note here is this passage from a recent book:
Asian American children and adults often are forced to endure hostile mocking such as: “Ching chong Chinaman sitting on a rail, along came a white man and snipped off his tail”; “Ah so. No tickee, No washee. So sorry, so sollee”; and “Chinkee, Chink, Jap, Nip, zero, Dothead . . . Flip, Hindoo.” A Toledo radio station’s white disc-jockey recently phoned Asian restaurants using mock-Asian speech, including “ching, chong chung” and “me speakee no English.” On her talk show prominent comedian Rosie O’Donnell repeatedly used “ching chong” to mock Chinese speech.
Such language stereotyping and mocking has long been part of the dominant racial frame and has been directed not only at Asian Americans but also earlier at African, Native, and Latino Americans. This hostile language mocking is usually linked to other important racialized images that whites hold of those Americans of color they often oppress.
Language researcher Rosina Lippi-Green has noted a very important point about such routinized mocking: “Not all foreign accents, but only accent linked to skin that isn’t white . . . evokes such negative reactions.” (Full source references for these examples and others can be found in notes to Ch. 5 of The White Racial Frame)
One very striking thing about this racist mocking and language is how unoriginal most of it is. Whites, including those “well educated,” seem to repeat it again and again and again and again, and almost verbatim. One obvious conclusion is that the white racial frame, and its originators and maintainers, score close to zero on the racism originality scale, if there is such a thing.