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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 31, 2007

Written by C.N.

The State of Manga in Japan and the U.S.

Earlier this year, I wrote about how Japanese manga is gradually becoming incorporated into mainstream American culture. This time around, Wired Magazine notes that while manga enjoys continuing growth and increasing popularity among American and European consumers, its fortunes back in Japan are less clear:

As you may have noticed, Japanese comics have gripped the global imagination. Manga sales in the US have tripled in the past four years. Titles like Fruits Basket, Naruto, and Death Note have become fixtures on American best-seller lists. Walk into your local bookstore this afternoon and chances are the manga section is bigger than the science fiction collection.

Europe has caught the bug, too. In the United Kingdom, the Catholic Church is using manga to recruit new priests. One British publisher, in an effort to hippify a national franchise, has begun issuing manga versions of Shakespeare’s plays, including a Romeo and Juliet that reimagines the Montagues and Capulets as rival yakuza families in Tokyo.

Yet in Japan, its birthplace and epicenter, manga’s fortunes are sagging. Circulation of the country’s weekly comic magazines, the essential entry point for any manga series, has fallen by about half over the last decade. Young people are turning their attention away from the printed page and toward the tiny screens on their mobile phones.

Fans and critics complain that manga — which emerged in the years after World War II as an edgy, uniquely Japanese art form — has become as homogenized and risk-averse as the limpest Hollywood blockbuster.

The article describes one potential savior of the Japanese manga industry — copyright piracy. That is, because the existing manga series in Japan are apparently getting stale, amateur manga writers and artists openly “borrow” existing manga characters but add new storylines and plots to them. These limited-run amateur editions serve to revitalize interest and popularity into the entire manga industry.

Technically, this “borrowing” of manga characters by amateurs is illegal. But as the article notes, “Amateur manga remixers aren’t merely replicating someone else’s work. They’re creating something original. And in doing so, they may well be helping, not hindering, the commercial interests of the copyright holders.”

So far, everyone wins. Is this implicit agreement between the copyright holders and amateurs likely to stay in place for long? As long as both sides are making money, it probably will.

October 29, 2007

Written by C.N.

Grading Law Firms on Diversity

As the Asian American population continues to grow, many are increasingly entering fields other than medicine, computers, and engineering. One of these emerging fields for Asian American professionals is law. But how welcoming are the top law firms toward the growing number of Asian American lawyers? To help answer that question, as the New York Times reports, a new study by the grassroots organization “Building a Better Legal Profession” has graded the nation’s largest law firms on how culturally diverse they are:

The students are handing out “diversity report cards” to the big law firms, ranking them by how many female, minority and gay lawyers they have. . . . The numbers were provided to a central clearinghouse by the firms themselves. “Our process is simple,” the student group said in explaining its methodology. “Cut, paste and rank.”

Firms in the top fifth received A’s, in the second fifth B’s, and so on. Overall grades were arrived at by averaging grades for partners and associates in five categories: women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and gay people. . . .

I [NY Times reporter] asked the firms with particularly poor rankings for comments, and most of them responded, generally with quite similar statements. The issues are serious and difficult ones, they said, but they are working hard to make progress. . . .

The report cards seem to be having an impact. Mr. Bruck said a second-year student at Stanford had recently turned down an offer from one firm “as soon as he saw that it got an F on our diversity report card.”

The study’s data on the representation of Asian Americans as partners and associates is quite interesting. The numbers show that, nationally, the law firms that scored the best for Asian Americans are located in northern California’s Bay Area. This makes sense because Asian Americans generally represent about 15% of all residents of that area.

But it might also reflect the idea that being located in such a “liberal” and technology-heavy area, these firms understand that it is in their best interests to have lots of Asian American attorneys because these lawyers are not only intelligent, well-qualified, and hard-working, but as American society becomes increasingly globalized, these Asian Americans have the unique opportunity to leverage their cross-national ties, networks, and knowledge to lead their firms into the 21st century.

In the process, these Asian American attorneys are gradually expanding the definition of what it means to be an “American” to make it more diverse, especially in the context of our ever-evolving society and world.

Congratulations to those firms that scored well and I hope they keep up the good work.

October 26, 2007

Written by C.N.

Latino Immigrant Attachment to U.S.

This particular post focuses specifically on Latino immigrants, but I think the main points can also be applied to Asian immigrants as well.

Many opponents of immigration (legal or illegal) like to argue that immigrants (Latino, Asian, or otherwise) are less likely to think of themselves as American, are not interested in assimilating into American culture, and would rather go back to their birth country than stay in the U.S.

However, a new study on Latino immigrants by the respected non-partisan Pew Research Center suggests a different picture — most Latino immigrants want to be as American as anybody else:

Only one-in-ten (9%) of all Latino immigrants send remittances, make phone calls at least once a week and have traveled back to their country of origin in the past two years. Meanwhile, nearly three-in-ten (28%) do not engage in any of these activities. . . .

The share making trips in the recent past is higher among immigrants with long tenure than among the recent arrivals. Acquiring U.S. citizenship, which is more common among those with more years of residence, is associated with higher levels of recent travel. . . .

Two-thirds of Latino immigrants (66%) say they plan to stay in the U.S. for good, but this intention varies significantly depending on how long an individual has been in this country. Among those here for fewer than 10 years, 51% say they plan to stay, a view shared by 85% of those who have already been here more than 30 years.

To summarize, while many might expect virtually all Latino immigrants to have deep levels of attachment to their birth countries, a significant number of them (28%) do not engage in any of the three identified “attachment” behaviors at all. Also, the longer a Latino immigrant lives in the U.S. or if s/he has U.S. citizenship, the more likely s/he is to travel back and forth between the U.S. and his/her birth country, again contrary to conventional expectations. And even among recent immigrants, more than half plan to stay permanently in the U.S.

The take-home message from this study seems to be: in contrast to criticisms that they aren’t interested in assimilating, overwhelmingly, Latino immigrants (legal and illegal) want to become Americans. Like I said, I am pretty sure the same can be said of Asian immigrants as well.

With that in mind, their critics can still argue over whether they — particularly those who are here illegally — should be allowed to become American citizens, but their argument that Latino immigrants themselves don’t want to become Americans now appears to be significantly weakened.

October 24, 2007

Written by C.N.

Debating Native Hawaiian Identity

As we all know, the debate over affirmative action is still quite intense and fraught with controversy and strong emotions on both sides. Unbeknown to most people however, is that very similar debate going on in Hawai’i about who qualifies to be Native Hawaiian and therefore gets to enjoy the various government programs that, at this point, only Native Hawaiians qualify for:

Under a program created by Congress in 1921, Native Hawaiians with strong bloodlines can get land for a home for $1 a year. Those with more mixed ancestry still receive many other benefits, including low-interest loans and admission for their children to the richly endowed and highly regarded Kamehameha Schools. . . .

About 400,000 people claim Native Hawaiian ancestry nationwide, two-thirds of them in the Hawaiian islands, making them a minority in a state of 1.2 million. Roughly 60,000 of those who consider themselves Hawaiian claim at least half Hawaiian blood.

Proving Native Hawaiian ancestry is a big deal. Without it, you can be born in the islands but can never call yourself Hawaiian. No blood or DNA test exists to determine who is or isn’t Hawaiian. Instead, people have to prove their ethnicity through birth certificates, marriage licenses, census records, family trees or newspaper obituaries.

Like I said, like affirmative action, this issue regarding who qualifies to be “Native Hawaiian” can be quite controversial. At this point, I do not feel that I cannot make a definitive judgment on the issue one way or the other. However, I would like to point out that this debate illustrates a very important point when it comes to the Asian American community — that not all Asian Americans are the same.

In other words, while there are some Asian Americans who are undoubtedly doing well, there are many others who may be struggling and therefore, may be entitled to certain benefits or programs designed to rectify historical disadvantages. Of course, a big part of the debate on this Native Hawaiian issue and on affirmative action in general is whether such historical disadvantages still directly hamper particular individuals of such groups today.

On that question, the debate is likely to rage on for quite some time.

October 22, 2007

Written by C.N.

Bobby Jindal: New Governor of Louisiana

Back in 1996, Chinese American Democrat Gary Locke became the first Asian American governor of Washington state and therefore, the first governor of a mainland state in American history. Now we have a second — as the Associated Press reports, Republican and Indian American Bobby Jindal has just been elected as Governor of Louisiana:

Jindal, a 36-year-old Republican, will be the nation’s youngest governor. He had 53 percent with 625,036 votes with about 92 percent of the vote tallied. . . . The Oxford-educated Jindal had lost the governor’s race four years ago to Gov. Kathleen Blanco. He won a congressional seat in conservative suburban New Orleans a year later but was widely believed to have his eye on the governor’s mansion.

Blanco opted not to run for re-election after she was widely blamed for the state’s slow response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. . . . Jindal, who takes office in January, pledged to fight corruption and rid the state of those “feeding at the public trough,” revisiting a campaign theme.

“They can either go quietly or they can go loudly, but either way, they will go,” he said, adding that he would call the Legislature into special session to address ethics reform. Political analysts said Jindal built up support as a sort of “buyer’s remorse” from people who voted for Blanco last time and had second thoughts about that decision. . . .

In India, Jindal’s family members were proud, and were going to celebrate with the traditional Punjabi folk dance called bhangra.

The New York Times reports in a separate article that not all Indian Americans are head over heels over his victory. The article quotes my friend and colleague Prof. Vijay Prashad as saying, “The fact that he’s of Indian ancestry is a subject of jubilation. But there’s a very shallow appreciation of who he really is. Once you scratch the surface, it’s really unpleasant.”

As a liberal, I too feel some uneasiness about the victory of any conservative Republican, Asian American or not. Nonetheless, I still offer my congratulations to Bobby Jindal on his historic victory. We may have opposing political ideologies but as my post about how Vietnamese Americans frequently cross party lines to support Vietnamese candidates to strengthen ethnic solidarity, so too am I proud that another Asian American has achieved such a powerful position in the American political landscape.

Perhaps Asian Americans are slowly succeeding in demonstrating that we are in fact “real” and “legitimate” Americans just like anybody else.

October 21, 2007

Written by C.N.

Chinatown Residents Donating to Hillary Clinton

As the presidential primary season heats up, so too does the scrutiny given to every facet of each candidate’s campaign. When it comes to the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, we’ve already heard about the episode with Norman Hsu, the fugitive felon who gave to Clinton and other Democratic politicians. Now, as the Los Angeles Times reports, there may be some irregularities with some campaign contributions that Clinton has received from residents of New York City’s Chinatown:

Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton’s campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. . . .

At this point in the presidential campaign cycle, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in history. Those dishwashers, waiters and street stall hawkers are part of the reason. And Clinton’s success in gathering money from Chinatown’s least-affluent residents stems from a two-pronged strategy: mutually beneficial alliances with powerful groups, and appeals to the hopes and dreams of people now consigned to the margins. . . .

As with other campaigns looking for dollars in unpromising places, the Clinton operation also has accepted what it later conceded were improper donations. At least one reported donor denies making a contribution. Another admitted to lacking the legal-resident status required for giving campaign money. Clinton aides said they were concerned about some of the Chinatown contributions. . . .

The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.

And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs — including dishwasher, server or chef — that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.

The article goes on to describe that many Chinatown residents who donate to Clinton’s campaign hope that if she becomes President that she will make it easier to reunite with family members back in China, and how this hope may be a little optimistic given current political realities.

Many in the Asian American community have raised objections to the overall tone of this particular article, arguing that it paints a rather biased and prejudicial picture of Chinese American (and by implication, Asian American) campaign donors. In particular, U.S. Representative Mike Honda (current Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus) notes:

I am appalled by the irresponsible and biased portrayal of the Asian American immigrant community, published by the L.A. Times today. The reporting unfairly attributes selected individual cases to an entire ethnic community in a major metropolitan area. Such an unfair, sweeping, and negative portrayal has a significant chilling effect on the civic participation by all Asian Americans, who merely want their fair chance to participate in the American political process. . . .

Drawing a connection between the emerging political involvement of Asian Americans and individual cases of possibly suspect donations sends a strong message that the political participation of minority communities is undesired. Minority communities in America have been shut out of the political process through poll taxes, literacy tests, and other tactics throughout our country’s history. As leaders, we should be encouraging, not chilling, the legitimate involvement of underrepresented communities in our democracy.

On those points, I wholeheartedly agree with Rep. Honda — too many times, Asian Americans are questioned on their identities and loyalties as “real” Americans. Whether it relates to accusations of spying for China or charges of improper donations to politicians, it is rather exasperating for many Asian Americans when they are automatically presumed to be “guilty by association” and have to prove themselves innocent from a cultural point of view.

In my Asian American Studies class that I’m teaching this semester, we are currently discussing the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II as the tragic result of hysterical prejudices and mistaken presumptions of “national loyalty.” I hope most can see that these same fears are also present in this case. In fact, it does seem to me that the writers of the LA Times article did go out of their way to paint a picture of Chinatown campaign donors as “suspect” and “dishonest” — the very definition of Orientalism.

At the same time, as I wrote posted earlier about Norman Hsu, members of the Asian American community are not doing their group any favors if they disobey the laws and improperly donate money to candidates. Doing so causes infinitely more damage to our community than it benefits. Such improper contributions damage our collective credibility and only fan the racial biases against us.

If any of the contributions described in this article are in fact improper, I hope those responsible are held accountable and that the residents of this Chinatown community and elsewhere are taught what is legal and what is illegal when it comes to donating money to politicians.

At the same time, if there were any improper donations, I hope that everybody remembers that the actions of a few should not reflect upon an entire group of people. In the same way that I do not hold all Whites or all Republicans responsible for the corrupt and illegal activities of crooked political participants such as Scooter Libby, Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Conrad Burns, Mark Foley, etc., so too should we keep in mind that a few donations from ineligible Asian Americans does not mean all donations from Asian Americans are suspect.

Even if some Chinatown residents were ineligible to donate, the fact that many willingly gave up a significant portion of their income shows that they are not afraid to put their money where their mouth is — to turn their convictions into action, rather than sit around, complain, and not do anything about the situation.

In the end, that’s one lesson that they can teach all Americans.

October 19, 2007

Written by C.N.

Tila Tequila and Her Reality TV Show

As a member of Generation X, I would guess that most young Asian Americans — like the students in my classes at UMass — probably think that I’m pretty much an old geezer these days. To be honest, they’re probably right.

Tila Tequila © Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

In addition to my ever-increasing age, I actually don’t watch much TV and therefore, am not very attuned to who different celebrities are these days. That includes Tila Tequila, who I have learned, is a young Vietnamese American who will be starring in her own reality TV show:

Tequila, née Tila Nguyen, is famous for nothing more than having in excess of 1 million buddies on MySpace. At least, that’s all for now. The 25-year-old is launching a music career, an Internet startup and a MTV reality show.

The last is the most titillating. It’s called “A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila,” and it sounds like “The Bachelorette” with a spicy twist. Since the former Playboy model is bisexual, she’s looking for love from a pool of 16 guys—and 16 girls. Will she discover true happiness, or at the very least another 15 more minutes of fame?

Generally, as long as they’re not doing something illegal or egregiously immoral or deviant, I tend to support Asian Americans (and in Tila’s case a fellow Vietnamese American) and their quest to become popularly famous. As one example, I have to admit that unlike many Asian Americans, I generally did not denounce William Hung and his exploits.

So how do I feel about Tila Tequila in this instance? The same way I felt about William Hung: I hope she’s happy and I wish her the best, but don’t expect me to partake and tune into her show any time soon.

October 17, 2007

Written by C.N.

Burma Events Highlight Differences Between Chinese

When many Americans think of China, I am confident in guessing that they tend to see the Chinese as one united collective, mobilized and indoctrinated to all think alike, and to behave as if they were all the same. Especially in the wake of all the recent international attention and criticism directed at China for various problems, it’s probably not surprising if people lump all Chinese together. Unfortunately, as New American Media reports regarding how Chinese bloggers view recent events in Burma, this view is rather simplistic and ultimately, grossly inaccurate:

Chinese people weighing in on the Internet are split over the conflict in Burma, with democracy activists furious over the government crackdown and nationalists protesting that China has no role to play in quelling the conflict. Democracy activists have dubbed the crackdown on Buddhist monks “Burma’s Tiananmen Square protest.” . . .

The confrontation among Chinese people on the Internet is intense, but they are not quarrelling about Burma — they are slandering each other concerning their own country. . . .

Pro-Chinese government voices are called “young soldiers” in online forums because most of them were born in the late 70s or early 80s. They are younger than the government critics, who include democracy movement activists, or “old soldiers.” The “young soldiers” have grown up in an open society and experienced the economic development and prosperity of recent years. Compared to the older generation, they are more confident about their country. . . .

In contrast, Asian Times columnist Pan Xiaotao warned of the danger of forgetting China’s own movement against pro-democracy activists, writing that, “In the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, the Chinese government did the same thing as what the Burma military government is doing now.”

I actually think it is a healthy sign that Chinese have differing views on the recent events in Burma — it goes to show that not all Chinese think alike and that there are disagreements and debate on important social issues. Hopefully this will help to dispel the notion that all Chinese are the same, a particular stereotype that is also frequently applied to Asian Americans in general.

Beyond that, debate and discussion in fact form the basis for democracy. Unfortunately, it’s getting past those first few steps that seem to be so difficult in China.

October 15, 2007

Written by C.N.

New Research on Asian American College Students

The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has just released a new study entitled “Beyond Myths: The Growth and Diversity of Asian American College Freshmen, 1971-2005” that challenges the “model minority” notion that virtually all Asian American college students enjoy universal success. Instead, it points out that there are still many cultural and socioeconomic factors that still stand in the way to success for many Asian American students:

More Asian American students now come from low-income homes with limited financial capacity to pay for college, and fewer are attending their first-choice institutions than in past years. In 2005, 51.8 percent reported attending their first-choice school, a significant decline from the 68.0 percent reported in 1974. . . .

In 2005, Asian American freshmen were more likely than the national freshman population to come from families with household incomes of less than $40,000. Nearly 31 percent of Asian Americans came from such backgrounds, compared with the national average of 22.7 percent — presenting these students with an obstacle to success in higher education. . . .

Over the past 35 years, entering Asian American students appear to have become better prepared for college, although nearly 20 percent in 2005 believed they would need special tutoring or remedial work in English. This percentage is similar to that for incoming Latino students (20.9 percent) and is higher than that for all other racial groups, underscoring a critical remediation need for colleges and universities.

One interesting finding from the report is the statistic that 51.8% of Asian American college applicants got into their first-choice school, compared to 68% from in 1974. At first glance, this might suggest that Asian American applicants are being discriminated against and being unfairly rejected at higher rates than before, perhaps as a consequence of affirmative action in favor or “less qualified” applicants.

The research on the effect of affirmative action on Asian Americans is still ongoing and hotly-debated. Nonetheless, while I haven’t read this particular report yet, while there may be some level of discrimination against Asian American applicants going on, my guess is that most of this trend is explained by larger numbers of Asian American applicants since 1974 and fewer admissions spots available per applicant, more competition in general among all college applicants, and Asian American applicants applying to more selective schools.

While this report may or may not shed any more light on affirmative action, at the least, it promises to be a useful resource for those who wish to better understand the basic economic and cultural issues that many Asian American students face these days. Along with that, it should go a long way toward helping to shatter the generalized image of Asian Americans as the model minority who don’t have any problems or face any challenges anymore.

October 11, 2007

Written by C.N.

Updated Intermarriage Statistics

I wanted to point out that I have updated one of the most-read and most controversial articles on this site — Interracial Dating and Marriage. Using the most up-to-date Census Bureau data available, the new tabulations not only provide the latest statistics available, but also include numbers from three different statistical models that include different groups of Asian Americans. Each model has its own strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to read the accompanying text — not just the numbers — to properly understand what they mean.

To give you a basic summary, generally speaking, across all three statistical models I present, these are the Asian ethnic groups are most or least likely to have each kind of spouse:

Men/HusbandsMost / Least Likely to Have a(n) __ Wife:

  • Endogamous — Most: Vietnamese / Least: Filipinos
  • Other Asian (Pan-Asian) — Most: Japanese / Least: Asian Indians
  • White — Most: Filipinos / Least: Vietnamese
  • Black — Most: Koreans / Least: Asian Indians
  • Hispanic/Latino — Most: Filipinos / Least: Koreans
  • Multiracial or Other — Most: Filipinos / Least: Vietnamese

Women/WivesMost / Least Likely to Have a(n) __ Husband:

  • Endogamous — Most: Vietnamese / Least: Filipinos/Koreans
  • Other Asian (Pan-Asian) — Most: Japanese/Koreans / Least: Asian Indians
  • White — Most: Korean / Least: Vietnamese
  • Black — Most: Filipinos / Least: Chinese
  • Hispanic/Latino — Most: Filipinos / Least: Vietnamese
  • Multiracial or Other — Most: Japanese / Least: Vietnamese

Check out the new numbers and let me know what you think.

October 9, 2007

Written by C.N.

Mixing Political Ideologies Among Vietnamese Americans

Data on voting patterns consistently show that among Asian Americans, Vietnamese Americans are the most likely to vote Republican. Most scholars and observers agree that this tendency is due to their strong anti-communist ideology that is closely aligned with that of Republicans. But as the Orange County Register reports, in recent years, there has been a very interesting mix of political activities and crossing of traditional party lines going on in Little Saigon, the southern California enclave that is the heart of the Vietnamese American community:

When Garden Grove’s Van Tran launched his historic bid for Assembly in 2004, it was uncertain if he’d even survive the Republican primary. So he hit the streets of Little Saigon. Tran signed up new voters and persuaded a few thousand more to change their existing registration to the GOP, so they could vote for him in the primary. It’s among the county’s most dramatic voter drives. . . .

Last year, [many] GOP voters turned around and helped elect Democratic labor activist Andrew Nguyen – no relation – to the Westminster school board. Andrew Nguyen subsequently endorsed Republican Trung Nguyen – no relation – for county supervisor in the February election. Party membership can seem superfluous among Vietnamese Americans, despite their rapid ascent as a political force.

Thanks in large measure to Tran, Republicans have an advantage in registration – but Tran is also friendly and helpful to Andrew Nguyen and to Democrat Madison Nguyen. Madison Nguyen is a groundbreaking councilwoman representing a large Vietnamese population in the predominantly Democratic city of San Jose.

“Part of being a leader is building coalitions,” Tran said. “[A]s long as there are issues like human rights and democracy in Vietnam – those issues transcend party politics.” . . .

School board member Andrew Nguyen proudly touts his party’s concern with health care and social issues, and attacks the GOP on the Iraq war. Yet he’s also part of Tran’s circle. “We talk all the time,” Nguyen said. “No matter what differences we have, we represent the same community. The important thing is that we care about education. We know that is our future.” . . .

While Little Saigon doesn’t have much of a Democratic support system, Nguyen does have Tran’s network. In fact, he joined Tran and six other elected Republicans in opening a joint office there, to coordinate constituent services.

To be honest, at first, I was a little surprised to read this article and to hear about the ways in which Vietnamese American politicians are collaborating and supporting each other across traditional party lines. Vietnamese Americans are known to be very passionate and even perhaps a little militant when it comes to politics, especially as it relates to their hatred of the communist party in Viet Nam.

However, as I reflected more on this article, I remembered that along with being very political, the Vietnamese American community is also very socially cohesive and enjoys a high degree of ethnic solidarity. There are a few ways that this kind of solidarity has been exemplified in the past. One is the creation of the Little Saigon enclave in the first place, an impressive feat accomplished through the collective efforts of developers, businesses, and customers.

Another example of solidarity among Vietnamese Americans is their relatively low rates of outmarriage. As shown with the latest Census data on my Interracial Dating and Marriage article, Vietnamese Americans (even those born or raised in the U.S.) consistently have the highest endogamous marriage rates (marrying within your own ethnic group) of the six largest Asian groups.

To that list, we can now add the kind of political collaboration described in the article. That is, this high level of ethnic solidarity is apparent in how Vietnamese American politicians and voters can easily cross traditional political boundaries to support “one of their own,” with whether his/her political party matches their own being a relatively minor consideration.

As history tells us, this kind of collective unity and social solidarity can have very powerful benefits for a particular racial/ethnic group as time goes on.

October 5, 2007

Written by C.N.

Anti-Filipino Episode of Desperate Housewives

I was alerted to a recent episode of Desperate Housewives that contains an offensive comment about medical schools in the Philippines. A video clip of the segment is below and the scene involved Teri Hatcher’s character (Susan) at a hospital, being told by her gynecologist that she might be hitting menopause. Susan replied, “Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in the Philippines.”

If you would like to sign a petition objecting to this episode to ABC, you can do so at

I can already hear people say things like, “Oh come on — it was just a little joke. Why do you (Asians/Blacks/minorities) have to take everything so seriously? I don’t find those comments offensive. Sticks and stones — lighten up, already!” So let’s just cut to the chase. Here is my reply:

What we need to recognize is that there are fundamental institutional power differences inherent in situations in which White public figures denigrate minorities and that each time an incident like that happens, it reinforces the notion of White supremacy — that Whites can say whatever they want against anybody at any time.

I’m also not surprised to hear a White person say that they don’t feel offended by anything because as a collective racial group, Whites already enjoy so many other privileges associated with their skin color. Isn’t it just typical for Whites and their lackeys to say “sticks and stones” and “get just it over it.” Unfortunately, that comment only serves to provide us with nothing else than a clear illustration of White privilege and supremacy.


Update: ABC has since issued an apology over the scene in question. In part, the apology reads, “[We] offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines.”

Unfortunately, to me, this is just another one of those half-ass “sorry that you were offended” pseudo-apologies that really doesn’t say anything about ABC acknowledging that they make a serious lapse in judgment and mistake with the original writing of the scene. But that’s just my opinion — you can decide for yourself whether ABC’s ‘apology’ is sufficient.