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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.

September 30, 2010

Written by C.N.

Korean Adoption Film Festival in Boston

Following up on my recent post “Transracial Adoption from the Adoptee’s Point of View,” my former student and now colleague Gang Shik is organizing a Korean Adoptee Film Festival, “Journeys Abroad, Journeys Within.” It will take place Oct. 29-30 at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. You can click on the image below to view a full-size version:

Click for full-size graphic

As Gang wrote in his post that I reprinted, when the mainstream media talk about international and transracial adoption, too often the voices and experiences of the adoptees themselves are completely ignored or marginalized. Hopefully events like this will help educate everybody that the adoptees themselves have much to contribute toward the academic and personal understanding of this complicated issue.

September 28, 2010

Written by C.N.

Save the Minidoka Internment Historical Site

The history of 120,000+ Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II for nothing more than their Japanese ancestry is one of the saddest examples of government-sanctioned racism in American history. Fortunately, in 1986, a bipartisan Congressional committee officially concluded that this episode was indeed a “grave injustice” that resulted from “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” and eventually, surviving Japanese American prisoners received a symbolic $20,000 reparation amount as a result.

Since then, three of the 20+ prison camp sites have been officially designated as National Historical Sites by the U.S. National Park Service — Manzanar and Tule Lake in California and Minidoka in Idaho. Unfortunately, as Regina Weiss recently wrote in the Huffington Post, the Minidoka site is in danger of becoming practically extinct:

[L]ast week . . . Judge Robert Elgee of Idaho’s Fifth District ruled in favor of the developers who plan to build a 13,000-head cattle feedlot adjacent to Minidoka, rendering it a historic attraction in name only. . . . Today, not even a decade after the Minidoka Internment Camp was promised permanent preservation as a National Historic Site, it is threatened with becoming permanently overshadowed by the massive waste lagoons, poisoned air and putrid water that characterize Idaho’s dairy CAFOs.

To quote one area resident who wants the project stopped, “If you imagine visiting a park near a CAFO, you wouldn’t even want to get out of the car, let alone have a picnic, peruse the waysides [or ] look for names on the Honor Roll.” Or, as Dan Everhart, president of the board of Preservation Idaho, put it, allowing the CAFO to go forward “would be a de facto closing of the [historic] site because no one would be able to get out of the car.” . . .

In a cruel twist of irony, the threat represented by the proposed confined animal feeding operation (CAFO, or factory farm) landed Minidoka on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of American’s Most Endangered Historic Places. Whether the CAFO will swallow up the historic site now depends on whether opponents of the proposed development can afford to appeal the August 3 ruling.

Ms. Weiss’s article provides a very nice history lesson about the contributions of Japanese American farmers to the western region of the U.S. and notes that even during their imprisonment and after their own farms were confiscated from them, Japanese Americans inside many of these camps were recruited to grow crops to help support U.S. troops fighting abroad.

The arguments about the multiple dangers of such corporate “farms” has been well-documented so I will only argue that, as a place of profound injustice and a history lesson about one of our government’s saddest mistakes and later, one of its proudest acts of redemption, the Minidoka site needs to be preserved. History is not always pleasant to learn about, but for the sake of future generations, it is important that we do.

If you would like to contribute to the effort to preserve the Minidoka War Relocation Center National Historical Site, please consider donating to Friends of Minidoka and their ongoing work to prevent its functional destruction.

September 23, 2010

Written by C.N.

New Books & Links: Immigration Reform

As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

In addition to mentioning new book releases, I will periodically include links to recent news articles from around the internet that relate to the books’ topic as well, to give readers a wider exposure to the different dynamics involved. This time around, I highlight books, recent news stories, and internet links that focus on the ongoing effort to achieve meaningful immigration reform.

Help Support the DREAM Act

Introduced several years ago in a bipartisan effort between Senators Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act would allow young immigrants without legal status who meet several strict qualifications to apply for citizenship by completing a college education or serving at least two years in the U.S. military.

Since its introduction, it has languished in the Senate as the ideological debate over unauthorized immigration continues to boil and churn. Last week, efforts to pass it as part of a Defense Appropriations bill failed. Nonetheless, you can still show your support for this bill that would benefit many deserving Americans by contacting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and your state’s Senators and asking them to support the bill by calling for an immediate vote as a stand-alone bill.

9500 Liberty Documentary to Air this Sunday

The much-anticipated and critically-acclaimed documentary 9500 Liberty (produced by notable Asian American filmmakers Eric Byler and Annabel Park) is scheduled to be shown on several channels of the MTV Network (MTV2, MTV U, and MTV Tr3s with Spanish subtitles) this Sunday, Sept. 26th at 8 PM ET/PT. Below is the synopsis from the documentary’s website and its trailer:

Prince William County, Virginia becomes ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopt a law requiring police officers to question anyone they have “probable cause” to suspect is an undocumented immigrant.

9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of a local government, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the Internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens. Alarmed by a climate of fear and racial division, residents form a resistance using YouTube videos and virtual townhalls, setting up a real-life showdown in the seat of county government.

The devastating social and economic impact of the “Immigration Resolution” is felt in the lives of real people in homes and in local businesses. But the ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet. 9500 Liberty provides a front row seat to all three battlegrounds.

Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders: Immigrants and American Racial Politics in the Early Twenty-first Century, by Ronald Schmidt Sr., Rodney E. Hero, Andrew L. Aoki, and Yvette M Alex-Assensoh (University of Michigan Press)

Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders, by Schmidt, Hero, Aoki, and Alex-Assensoh

Over the past four decades, the United States has experienced the largest influx of immigrants in its history. Not only has the ratio of European to non-European newcomers changed, but the numbers of recent arrivals from the Asian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, South America, and other regions are increasing.

In this timely study, a team of political scientists examines how the arrival of these newcomers has affected the efforts of long-standing U.S. minority groups — Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Pacific Americans — to gain equality through greater political representation and power. The authors predict that, for some time to come, the United States will function as a complex multiracial hierarchy, rather than as a genuine democracy.

From Immigrants to Americans: The Rise and Fall of Fitting In, by Jacob L. Vigdor (Rowman & Littlefield)

From Immigrants to Americans, by Vigdor

Immigration has always caused immense public concern, especially when the perception is that immigrants are not assimilating into society they way they should, or perhaps the way they once did. But is this truly a modern phenomenon? In From Immigrants to Americans, Jacob Vigdor offers a direct comparison of the experiences of immigrants in the United States from the mid-19th century to the present day.

His conclusions are both unexpected and fascinating. From Immigrants to Americans is an important book for anyone interested in immigration, either the history or the modern implications, or who want to understand why today’s immigrants seem so different from previous generations of immigrants and how much they are the same.

Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society, by Carola Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, and Irina Todorova (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

From Immigrants to Americans, by Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, and Todorova

One child in five in America is the child of immigrants, and their numbers increase each year. Very few will return to the country they barely remember. Who are they, and what America do they know?

Based on an extraordinary interdisciplinary study that followed 400 newly arrived children from the Caribbean, China, Central America, and Mexico for five years, this book provides a compelling account of the lives, dreams, and frustrations of these youngest immigrants. Richly told portraits of high and low achievers are packed with unexpected ironies.

When they arrive, most children are full of optimism and a respect for education. But poor neighborhoods and dull–often dangerous–schools can corrode hopes. The vast majority learn English — but it is the English of video games and the neighborhood, not that of standardized tests.

For some of these children, those heading off to college, America promises to be a land of dreams. These lucky ones have often benefited from caring mentors, supportive teachers, or savvy parents. For others, the first five years are marked by disappointments, frustrations, and disenchantment. How can we explain their varied academic journeys?

The children of immigrants, here to stay, are the future — and how they adapt will determine the nature of America in the twenty-first century.

Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization, by Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny (American Enterprise Institute)

Beside the Golden Door, by Orrenius and Zavodny

“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The last line of Emma Lazarus’s famous poem invites immigrants to enter a land of economic opportunity. Many have accepted that invitation; today, foreign-born workers make up nearly 16 percent of the U.S. workforce and account for almost half of workforce growth over the last decade. Rather than capitalizing on these gains, however, recent immigration reforms have resulted in an inefficient, patchwork system that shortchanges high-skilled immigrants and poorly serves the American public.

Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization proposes a radical overhaul of current immigration policy designed to strengthen economic competitiveness and long-run growth. Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny outline a plan that favors employment-based immigration over family reunification, making work-based visas the rule, not the exception. They argue that immigration policy should favor high-skilled workers while retaining avenues for low-skilled immigration; family reunification should be limited to spouses and minor children; provisional visas should be the norm; and quotas that lead to queuing must be eliminated.

A selective immigration policy focused on high-skilled, high-demand workers will allow the United States to compete in an increasingly global economy while protecting the interests of American citizens and benefiting taxpayers. Orrenius and Zavodny conclude that while not all potential immigrants who knock at the golden door should be admitted, the door should swing wide open to welcome those who desire nothing more than the opportunity to work for the American dream.

September 20, 2010

Written by C.N.

14 Statistics for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. Below is an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics published by the Census Bureau for this occasion:

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

48.4 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2009, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16 percent of the nation’s total population. In addition, there are approximately 4 million residents of Puerto Rico, a Caribbean U.S. territory.

Percentage increase in the Hispanic population between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, making Hispanics the fastest-growing minority group.

22.4 million
The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990 Census.

132.8 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 30 percent of the nation’s population by that date.

The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in the United States who were of Mexican background in 2008. Another 9 percent were of Puerto Rican background, with 3.4 percent Cuban, 3.4 percent Salvadoran and 2.8 percent Dominican. The remainder was of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origin.

27.4 years
Median age of the Hispanic population in 2009. This compared with 36.8 years for the population as a whole.

Number of Hispanic males in 2009 per every 100 Hispanic females. This was in sharp contrast to the overall population, which had 97 males per every 100 females.

The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lived in California or Texas in 2009. California was home to 13.7 million Hispanics, and Texas was home to 9.1 million.

The percentage of New Mexico’s population that was Hispanic in 2009, the highest of any state (New Mexico had 916,000 Hispanics). Hispanics also made up at least one fifth of the population in California and Texas, at 37 percent each, followed by Arizona (31 percent), Nevada (26 percent), Florida (22 percent) and Colorado (20 percent).

Number of the nation’s 3,143 counties that were majority-Hispanic.

2.3 million
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 43.6 percent from 2002.

$345.2 billion
Receipts generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 55.5 percent from 2002.

35 million
The number of U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2008. Those who hablan español constituted 12 percent of U.S. residents. More than half of these Spanish speakers spoke English “very well.”

The number of Hispanic surnames ranked among the 15 most common in 2000. It was the first time that a Hispanic surname reached the top 15 during a census. Garcia was the most frequent Hispanic surname, occurring 858,289 times and placing eighth on the list — up from 18th in 1990. Rodriguez (ninth), Martinez (11th) and Hernandez (15th) were the next most common Hispanic surnames.

September 16, 2010

Written by C.N.

Job Postings #4

The following are announcements about academic-related jobs for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues (listed in order of application deadline). As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Sociology, University of Dayton

Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track Assistant Professor position in sociology. We are seeking a Sociology Ph.D. with specialization in criminology and sociology of law to contribute to both the sociology and criminal justice studies majors (ABD will be considered). An ability to contribute to the interdisciplinary collaborations of the department is also desired. Candidates complementing the department’s focus on local and global communities and social justice are preferred. Preference will be given to applicants who have experience in teaching students from diverse backgrounds. This appointment begins August 16, 2011. Salary is competitive. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until October 15, 2010.

Online applications:

In order to complete your online application, you must attach a cover letter, your curriculum vita, and your statement of teaching philosophy. Copies of teaching evaluations and examples of syllabi and written work should be combined and attached to “other document.” Unofficial transcripts – graduate and undergraduate – may be combined and attached in one file in “transcripts.” Three original letters of reference should be mailed or emailed to:

SOC Search Committee
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work
University of Dayton
300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469-1442

The University of Dayton, a comprehensive Catholic university founded by the Society of Mary (Marianists) in 1850, is Ohio’s largest independent university and one of the nation’s ten largest Catholic universities. The University of Dayton is firmly committed to the principle of diversity and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Persons of color, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans are encouraged to apply.

Sociology, Radford University

Special Purpose (non-tenure track, subject to annual reappointment) Assistant Professor. We are seeking a student-centered applied sociologist to begin August 2011. Ability to teach introduction to sociology required; ability to teach at least two of the following three areas preferred: social psychology, race and ethnicity, inequality. Successful applicants will: have an established and active record of teaching, professional activities, and service; be committed to building community-university partnerships and student-centered education; share in the effective mentoring of sociology majors; work with the department continue and expand applied educational activities, such as internships, undergraduate research, and service learning; contribute to departmental assessment; and consistently and responsibly perform departmental committee service.

Doctorate in Sociology preferred (ABD considered). Applicants must provide a letter of application identifying interest and experience in applied educational activities and specifying areas of expertise, a current vita, recent teaching evaluations (if available) and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references. Please do not send additional materials at this time. Applications should be sent to: Dr. Carole Seyfrit, Chair, Department of Sociology, Box 6948, Radford University, Radford, VA 24142 or e-mailed to Review of applications will begin October 1 and continue until the position is filled.

Radford University is a co-educational, comprehensive, state supported institution located in southwestern Virginia, 40 miles from Roanoke, with an enrollment of approximately 9,600 students. For more information visit our website. Radford University is an Equal opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Sociology, University at Albany, SUNY

The Department of Sociology at the University at Albany invites applications for a tenure track position to begin in fall 2011. The position is contingent on final budget approval. Salary is competitive. Successful candidates will specialize in one of the following two areas: (1) Our first priority is in demography. Rank is open but preference will be given to candidates at the Associate or Full Professor level with an established track record of external funding. Candidates are expected to contribute to the research agenda of the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis. (2) Our second priority is for a candidate at the Assistant Professor level who conducts qualitative and/or ethnographic research. The substantive area is open but we are especially interested in the area of culture, gender, or urban sociology.

Candidates must demonstrate excellence in research and exhibit a strong commitment to teaching and service. Applicants must have a Ph.D. from a university accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or an internationally recognized accrediting organization. They must address in their applications their ability to work with and instruct a culturally diverse population. Applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and three letters of reference; finalists will be asked to provide additional materials related to research and teaching. Applications will be screened beginning October 1. The University at Albany is an EO/AA/IRCA/ADA employer. All materials should be addressed to: Search Committee, Department of Sociology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York 12222.

Sociology & International Studies, Boston College

The Department of Sociology and the International Studies Program invite applications for a tenure track assistant professor position with a cutting-edge research program in any of the following three areas: immigration, global environmental sociology, or global social movements. Scholars with expertise in any geographic area of the world are invited to apply. Scholars with substantive interest in: gender, race, class, sexuality, or religion/religious communities are particularly encouraged to apply. The tenure line is housed in the Sociology Department. The position, which begins in the Fall of 2011, entails half-time teaching in International Studies, which is an undergraduate major, and half-time graduate and undergraduate teaching in the Department of Sociology.

Applications should be submitted electronically to Potential applicants should email one attached pdf document containing the following: a cover letter that describes your research and teaching accomplishments and plans, current CV, and 2 pieces of recent scholarship. Applicants should arrange to have three letters of reference, also in pdf format, emailed to the same address. These references should be named in the letter of application. Review of applications will begin on October 1, 2010 and continue until the position is filled. Boston College is an Affirmation Action/Equal Opportunity employer. Applications from scholars of color and women are strongly encouraged.

Sociology, Loyola University New Orleans

The Department of Sociology has an anticipated opening for a tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level beginning August 2011. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in Sociology. The successful candidate will assume the primary responsibility of teaching courses in undergraduate research methods and statistics; all other specialty areas will be considered. The Department of Sociology has approximately 80 majors, seven full-time faculty members, and offers a BA in Sociology with optional concentrations in three areas: Global Sociology; Stratification and Inequality; and Crime, Law, and Social Control. The Department of Sociology also contributes courses to a number of interdisciplinary minors, including Environmental Studies, Women’s Studies, African and African-American Studies, Latin American Studies, Legal Studies, and the newly created minor in New Orleans Studies.

Candidates must submit evidence of the skills needed to teach both research methods and statistics at the undergraduate level well as examples of quantitative scholarship. In addition to teaching responsibilities, colleagues are expected to advise undergraduate students, participate in department, college, and university committees, and maintain an active involvement in scholarly activities, including publication and securing outside funding. Candidates must be committed to excellence in undergraduate liberal arts education. The department has a strong commitment to teaching students to think critically about social justice principles and their realization in the community.

Loyola University is situated in uptown New Orleans with an approximate enrollment of 4600 students. Loyola is a Jesuit university known for its academic excellence, its commitment to social justice and community service as well as its commitment to Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employment. Loyola University New Orleans welcomes applications from women and minority candidates. Salary and benefits are competitive. Applicants must submit a letter describing their teaching and research interests with a brief statement of their personal education philosophy, a current Curriculum Vitae, three letters of recommendation (to be sent directly by the referees), an official transcript, samples of scholarship, samples of course syllabi, and evidence of teaching success (e.g., evaluations). Submit applications to:

Dr. Sue Mennino, Chair, Faculty Search Committee
Department of Sociology, Box 30
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70118.

Review of applications will begin October 15 and continue until the position is filled.

Social Movements and Social Justice, University of Southern California

The Department of American Studies & Ethnicity in the University of Southern California’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor with a research specialization that addresses the nature and evolution of U.S. social movements for economic, environmental, gender and/or racial justice. We are especially interested in scholars whose work is grounded in both theory and engagement with the social movements studied, and we are open to comparative, historical, and transnational approaches.

A broad range of graduate training specializations will be considered, including but not limited to American Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Urban Planning, and Feminist and Ethnic Studies. The position, beginning in fall 2011, will be in American Studies & Ethnicity, an interdisciplinary department, with significant opportunities to affiliate with campus research centers engaged in movement analysis.

USC strongly values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity in employment. Women and men, and members of all racial and ethnic groups, are encouraged to apply. Please send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, one or two short writing samples, and three letters of reference to: Manuel Pastor, Chair of Search Committee, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-4033. We will begin to review applications on November 1, 2010 and will continue until the position is filled. A Ph.D. is required by the start of employment.

Sociology, Florida State University

The Department of Sociology at Florida State University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position, effective August 2011. We seek applicants with a primary emphasis in Race & Inequality who can also contribute to one of our other program areas: Health & Aging, Demography, or Social Psychology. Applications should include a personal letter, curriculum vitae, three letters of reference, and a writing sample. Screening will begin November 1 and continue until the position is filled. All application materials should be sent electronically to Isaac W. Eberstein, Chair, Department of Sociology, using this address: . Florida State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and race/ethnic minority applicants are particularly invited.

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Immigration, Cornell University

Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for the Social Sciences, ISS Immigration Theme Project.

Post-doctoral research associates are sought for participation in an interdisciplinary project on Immigration: Settlement, Integration, & Membership. Applications will be accepted for a one-year position, beginning approximately August 15, 2011. The project is led by an interdisciplinary team exploring two broad themes: immigrant settlement and integration, particularly in new receiving areas, and immigrant inclusion and membership. The project, coordinated by the Institute for the Social Sciences, will sponsor a seminar series, visiting scholars, and opportunities for multi-disciplinary research collaboration.

Postdocs will have access to the full range of university resources and receive an annual salary of $50,000 plus health benefits. Applicants must have a Ph.D. by August 15, 2011; scholars who have completed their Ph.D.’s within the past five years will be considered. The application deadline is November 15, 2010. Applicants should submit a curriculum vita, a brief statement of research interests, a writing sample, and three reference letters by e-mail to . Cornell is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer; minorities and women are encouraged to apply. Details are at: ISS Immigration Project and Cornell Office of Postdoctoral Studies.

September 13, 2010

Written by C.N.

Best Asian American Documentaries (Part 2)

This is the second part of my list of best films, videos, and documentaries that focus on Asian Americans and are great choices for showing in introductory Asian American Studies classes (read Part 1 here). The following list is organized by topic and corresponds to the chronological order in which I discuss each topic in my “Asian American Experience” course. For each topic, I highlight the documentary (or for some topics, two or more) that I tend to show the most often, followed by other videos that I consider to be good choices for that topic as well.

Discrimination, Inequality, & Racism

As the name implies, this section focuses on the historical/contemporary examples and individual/institutional ways in which Asian Americans have been targets of racial discrimination, ranging from the Foreign Miner’s Tax, to the Chinese Exclusion Tax, the Japanese American imprisonment, and Vincent Chin’s murder, to name just a few.

  • A Dream in Doubt: This video chronicles the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi, an Indian American Sikh gas station owner in Phoenix who was shot to death by Frank Roque in the first hate crime murder committed after the 9/11 attacks. It’s a moving look at both the individual costs of hatred, along with how the criminal justice system responds to such a crime in an emotional time for the nation.
  • Lest We Forget: Another excellent video that connects the imprisonment of Japanese Americans after the Pearl Harbor attack with the incarceration and racial profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11.
  • Who Killed Vincent Chin
  • Vincent Who?
  • Children of the Camps
  • American Sons
  • Sa-I-Gu
  • Wet Sand

Interracial Relationships and Dynamics

In this section, I focus on the issue of interracial dating and marriage, a hot-button topic for many Asian Americans. I explore the individual, family, community, and institutional factors that influence the choice of who a person dates or marries, with a particular focus on the issue from the point of view of Asian American males.

Faith, Spirituality, and Religion

This section explores roles that faith, spirituality, and religion can play in the lives of Asian Americans, ranging from providing emotional stability, practical information and resource, and providing a bridge to the rest of American society.

  • “Muslim” episode of the reality TV show 30 Days (Season 1): Created by Morgan Spulock (the guy who made Supersize Me in which he only ate McDonalds fast food for 30 days), this particular episode involves a practicing Christian living with a Muslim American family for 30 days as he tries to find his own truth about what Islam is all about.
  • American Made: Not a documentary but rather, a short drama about a Indian American family and how temporarily getting stranded in the dessert leads to an intergenerational understanding of what it means to be a Sikh in American society.
  • The Split Horn
  • Blue Collar and Buddha
  • Muslims in America

Sexuality and Creative Expression

This section highlights two sets of issues that have been marginalized or taboo in the Asian American community for too long — sexuality/sexual orientation and creative/artistic expression. I try to emphasize that in addition to achieving “material” goals related to education, jobs, and income, Asian Americans also need to recognize the value of other forms of living and personal expression that connect the individual with the community.

Social & Political Activism

While it’s important to recognize how Asian Americans have been targeted for discrimination, it’s just as important to understand that through the years, Asian Americans have not just been passive victims. Instead, in this section, I describe how there is a long and proud history of activism and collective action within the Asian American community and how we have fought back to assert our rights as true Americans.

New Paradigms and Emerging Issues

In this final section of my “Asian American Experience” course, I reflect back on where Asian Americans have been and just as important, take a look at where Asian Americans, American society, and the world in general is going as we move forward into the 21st century and in particular, as we become more culturally diverse, globalized, and transnational.

  • Yellow Apparel: When the Coolie Becomes Cool: This hard-hitting documentary looks at the plusses and minuses of Asian/Asian American culture becoming commercialized and integrated into mainstream American popular culture.
  • American Made: This short film is the only non-documentary film that I show. It stars Kal Penn (of “Harold and Kumar” fame), Bernard White (from “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions”), Sakina Jaffrey, and Te’Amir Yohannes Sweeney as an Indian American family whose car breaks down in the Arizona desert. As they ponder if anyone will stop to help them, the film explores the delicate question of what it means to be “American.”
  • “Angry Little Asian Girl” segment of Searching for Asian America

September 10, 2010

Written by C.N.

Online Survey: South Asian Mothers

Below is an announcement about a research project and online survey in need of Asian American respondents. As always, this announcement is provided for informational purposes only and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research project.

I am a Sri Lankan American mom and a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology at Adelphi University, doing a short online research survey on South Asian moms in the US. My research has been approved by the IRB at Adelphi.

Hello fellow South Asian moms:

This is Yas Alahendra, Sri Lankan mom and clinical psychology graduate student at Adelphi University, asking you to please take a little time to participate in my survey about how immigration, race, individualism, and group affiliation affect married moms’ feeling equal and happy in their marriages.

If you complete the survey, you will have contributed to psychological knowledge about motherhood. Also, you will have my many thanks for helping me finish my long Ph.D. journey as well as a chance to win one of several Barnes and Noble gift cards. To participate, you must be: married, have at least one child under 18 living at home with you, and be either:

  1. a US- residing, US-born Caucasian woman OR
  2. a US-residing South Asian woman who was US-born or an immigrant.

For the purposes of this study, I am defining South Asian as having Bangladeshi, Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani or Sri Lankan heritage. The study takes about 15 minutes to complete and can be reached by clicking this link:

Thank you very much,
Yas Alahendra, M.A.

September 8, 2010

Written by C.N.

Job Postings #3

The following are announcements about jobs for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Sociology, University of Connecticut

The Sociology Department at the University of Connecticut invites applications for tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level to begin August 23, 2011. The successful candidate will pursue rigorous research programs, contribute to graduate and undergraduate teaching, provide service to the university and the profession, and seek external funds to support their scholarly activities. The typical
course load is two courses per semester.

Minimum qualifications for the position include: an earned doctorate in Sociology; possess strong quantitative skills; ability to teach quantitative research methods; and substantive research interests in at least one of the following areas of specialization: health and health care organization; work, stratification, or labor markets; environment; and racism and ethnic group relations. Equivalent foreign degrees are acceptable.

Preferred qualifications include the ability to contribute through research, teaching, and/or public engagement to the diversity and excellence of the learning experience. Candidates may work at the University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs and/or the campuses at Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, Torrington, Waterbury, and West Hartford. Salary is competitive and will be commensurate with background, qualifications, and experience.

Applicants should visit Husky Hire to upload their curriculum vitae, a statement describing research plans and teaching interests, selected scholarly papers and publications, and three letters of reference. Review of applications will begin September 6, 2010 and continue until position is filled.

Projects & Events Assistant, Institute for Asian American Studies, UMass Boston

Job Description:
The Projects & Events Assistant will assist the staff at the Institute for Asian American Studies with administrative tasks, and assigned special projects and events. Duties may include, but are not limited to, organizing events and meetings, providing administrative assistance on research projects, and providing support on a video oral history project.

The ideal candidate will have: excellent oral and written communication skills and excellent organizational skills; the ability to follow complex instructions, maintain efficient office procedures and work independently; experience working on projects and events. S/he should be able to function well in both community and university-based settings. Knowledge of Asian American issues and experience working with Asian American communities preferred.

Additional Information:
Among the procedures which may be used to select personnel to fill vacant positions are review of work experience, reference checks, and interviews. All qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to age, race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. All appointments and promotions will be effective on a Sunday.

Application Instructions:
Please apply online with your resume, cover letter and list of three professional references.

  • Classified. Union. Benefited.
  • Grade 15.
  • Part time: 50% time
  • Bi-weekly salary: $659.30
  • This is a one-year temporary position
  • Grant Funded.

Closing date for applications: September 13, 2010.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Southern Education Foundation

The Southern Education Foundation, Inc. (SEF), located in Atlanta, GA seeks outstanding candidates to fill a Post‐Doctoral Fellow Position. This is a 12 month position with two renewable terms. This position is dedicated to the advancement of higher education research, analysis, and programing intended to improve access to college and degree completion among low‐income and minority students. Candidates interested in this position should have working knowledge and genuine interest in Minority‐Serving Institutions and the students most likely to attend them.

Since 1867 the Southern Education Foundation, Inc. has been an organization with a timeless mission: To improve educational excellence and equity in the South. Today, in a more global society, SEF maintains a prime focus on the South as the poorest and least educated region of the U.S., yet it also works to improve education systems and opportunity nationally. SEF, as a public charity, aims to advance creative solutions to ensure fairness and excellence in education for all.

Through a variety of Pre‐K‐16 programs involving research, analysis, advocacy, technical assistance, and outreach, SEF works to:

  • Improve education policy and practice
  • Promote high quality education systems that are universal
  • Improve access to higher education and degree completion for poor and minority students
  • Enhance the capacity of higher education institutions dedicated to serving low‐income and minority students
  • Inform the public and policymakers about education issues and plausible policy solutions
  • Strengthen parent, school, and private sector efforts to better meet the needs of underachieving students

Completion of the doctoral degree in higher education, public policy, or a related field is required. Candidates should be no more than three years beyond completion of the doctorate. Candidates should have experience in conducting higher education research and reporting, competence in statistical and analytical research methods as well as experience with data collection, analysis, and report preparation. Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to work collaboratively are also required.

Interested candidates should submit: 1) a letter of interest; 2) a current curriculum vitae; 3) academic transcripts; 4) writing sample or publication (other than a dissertation) and; 5) names and contact information of three references. Materials and inquiries should be addressed to: Dr. James T. Minor, Senior Program Officer & Director of Higher Education Programs; Southern Education Foundation, 135 Auburn Avenue; Second Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303. Materials may be sent electronically to Carmen Holman ( Deadline for receipt of application materials is September 10, 2010.

Faculty Director, Institute for Global-Local Action and Study

Pitzer College invites applications and nominations for the tenure-line position of Founding Faculty Director of the emerging Institute for Global-Local Action and Study (I-GLAS). I-GLAS is dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary curricular and research programs and activities that link the global and the local, and addressing key issues of globalization and its effects on communities and nations.

The Founding Faculty Director will provide strong academic leadership and vision for I-GLAS, infusing the College curriculum with critical community-based learning, research, and action initiatives that connect the global and the local, and encouraging faculty/student global-local research projects and new courses that build on the College’s successful community engagement and study abroad programs. He or she will also oversee the Institute’s budget, teach two courses a year related to global-local issues, and advise students.

The successful candidate will hold a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline and have a strong record of research and teaching on global-local issues as well as extensive experience with community-based pedagogies, research, and intercultural education. In addition, he or she will have the intellectual expertise to engage with globalization as a multilayered, uneven, and contested process, complicated by race, social class, gender, sexualities, diasporas, immigration, and unequal citizenship. The Director will hold an endowed chair; the rank of this position is open.

Pitzer College has a strong institutional commitment to the principles of diversity in all areas and strongly encourages candidates from underrepresented social groups. We favor candidates who contribute to the College’s distinctive educational objectives, which promote interdisciplinary perspectives, intercultural understanding, and concern with social responsibility and the ethical implications of knowledge and action. Pitzer College is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. For the successful applicant with relevant interest, affiliations are possible with the intercollegiate departments of Africana Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies, and/or Women’s Studies.

To apply, send in PDF format, a letter of application, curriculum vitae, selected evidence of excellence in teaching and research, statement of teaching philosophy, statement on diversity, a description of your research, and three letters of recommendation (at least one (1) of which addresses your teaching effectiveness) VIA EMAIL to The deadline for applying is December 1, 2010 or until the position is filled.

September 6, 2010

Written by C.N.

Transracial Adoption from the Adoptee’s Point of View

The topic of international and transracial adoptions seems to be on many people’s minds these days. Last week, PBS began showing a series of documentaries about such adoptions and their trailer for the series is below. My fellow Asian American blogger Jeff Yang has also written an article summarizing these documentaries in his regular column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

The blogosphere has also been buzzing about National Public Radio host Scott Simon’s recent on-air interview and discussion and book Baby We Were Meant for Each Other about his family’s adoption of two girls from China. Some readers found Simon’s narrative inspiring while others criticized him for some ethnocentric assumptions. For example, Malinda at ChinaAdoptionTalk offers a very well-reasoned response to some of Simon’s comments about the adoption process.

To add more substance to this emerging discussion on international and transracial adoption, the following is a post (reprinted by permission) originally titled “NPR’s Scott Simon Discusses Adoption on Fresh Air” by my former student and now colleague Gang Shik at his blog The Transracial Korean Adoptee Nexus. In his post, Gang asks the question, Why is it that whenever the media talks about transracial adoption that the last person they seek to for their input are the adoptees themselves?

It came as no surprise to me that the person talking about adoption, was an adoptive parent. As always, it appears as though adoptive parents are the only “authorities” on adoption. I come back to this same problem every time I hear a program on adoption. Why aren’t adoptees being called on to discuss their experiences? There are professors, researchers, artists, musicians, and poets who all have incredibly interesting stories to tell and who are professionals with opinions on adoption that go beyond the merely personal.

There are three topics I’d like to address with this post. First, I will look at adoption, assimilation rhetoric, and the “magic” of the familial integration. Second, I want to discuss a few things related to how Mr. Simon and his wife have decided to parent their children. And third, I will discuss the politics of racial identity.

As with most of my posts, I want to first start by saying that this is not meant to be slander, nor is it meant to be malicious by any means. The point of posts such as these, and the point of all my posts on my blog, are to discuss representations of adoption in the media, and the often overlooked discussions of race and identity for transracial adoptees. Whether you are an adoptee, adoptive parent, member of the triad, or any other concerned individual, this post is meant to inspire dialogue.

For as long as I can remember, adoptive parents have talked about their child(ren)’s first moments with them as being instantaneous and almost magical. “That first moment was magical. We knew, that s(he) was ours.” In so many ways, adoptive parents want their child(ren) to feel as though they were meant for each other. I do believe that these sort of narratives can gloss over some of the more important details that are occurring to an adoptee that are invisible to adoptive parents.

Some parents recount their experiences saying how the transition was seamless, or minimal at most. The effects of adoption on the adoptee are often dismissed as children are perceived to be “fitting in” to their new environments. There is no discussion of trauma, since many who adopt children believe this to be the least traumatic experience for a child. I’m no expert on child psychology, so I can’t speak to this last point much. But I can say that, adoption can be very traumatic.

I’ve met many adoptees who were adopted later in their lives – some are four, five or even six years old when they are adopted. So many of them have completely lost all memories of their homelands. Most are completely devoid of any bilingual language capabilities that they once had. Think of it this way. What sort of moment in your life could be so traumatic that you push all memories of it out of your mind permanently? Adoption is no easy thing for an adoptee, regardless of age, I have to believe that even young children can sense these things in one way or another.

At one point Mr. Simon said “she immediately became our child.” No doubt, she became your daughter at that very moment. However, I would urge Mr. Simon to not forget that she will forever be not just your daughter, but her birth mother’s daughter too. Continue to celebrate her life in China as much as you do in the U.S. Too often, I hear about adoptive parents who celebrate the day they arrived in the U.S. with out any concept of the life they lived or lost before they were adopted.

I do want to point something out which I found encouraging in Mr. Simon’s interview. He stated that he and his wife wish to provide their daughters with as much of their heritage as possible so that they can make their own decisions for themselves later in life. These things may not necessarily be relevant to them now, but it is important to present these aspects of themselves as important parts of them that should be available to them early on.

Simon is referring to a Chinese school that both his daughter are enrolled in over the summer that teaches Mandarin, Chinese cooking and cultural celebrations. Now, I can’t speak to the quality of these things but I do think it is encouraging to hear that they have considered the importance of making these things available to their children at an early age. He and his wife even went as far as attempting to only hire Chinese babysitters for their daughters.

Finally, I wanted to comment on a particular comment I found confusing towards the end of the interview. Mr. Simon said that he does not believe it is healthy for one to confuse identity with ethnicity. I think that the word ‘ethnicity’ has become a code word for race more recently. Some folks balk at using the word ‘race’ when referring to their adoptee children, especially when they are Asian. However, I think it is incredibly important to acknowledge this.

He says that his daughters are aware of the fact that they are Chinese. They will be made VERY aware of what it means to be Chinese American and Asian American and how this collides with their identities as young women soon enough. And I believe that this can not and should not be left out of the conversation. Race, whether we like it or not, is part of the American subconsciousness. Children are exposed to this at a very young age through television, the media, the other children they are surrounded by as they grow up.

These conversations need to happen. I’m partially encouraged by some of the things Mr. Simon had to say. However, there is so much left to change. I would encourage Mr. Simon to consider helping change the all too common adoption narrative to one that encourages and embraces the opinions and perspectives of adult adoptees. For the most part, adoptive parents are the ones given the microphone to talk about their experiences and frame how adoption is talked about in the media.

Adult adoptees are an important part of the equation since your child won’t be a child forever. I would love for there to be an NPR program that includes adult adoptee scholars, writers, educators, bloggers etc. Our voices are out there, but for the most part, we’re not listened to or honored as much as yours. As adoptive parents, and as reporters and journalists I hope you’ll consider our voices as important as your own and give us opportunities to be a part of the dialogue.

September 2, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: September

You might be interested to read the following posts from September of years past: