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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.

February 28, 2012

Written by C.N.

New Books: Hmong, Cambodians, Laotians, and Thais

The following new books examine some political, economic, and cultural issues of Southeast Asian ethnic groups in Asia and in the U.S. that do not get as much scholarly and public attention from compared to larger east Asian ethnic groups — Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians, and Thais. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Thais in Los Angeles, by Chanchanit Martorell and Beatrice “Tippe” Morlan (Arcadia Publishing)

'Thais in Los Angeles' by Martorell and Morlan

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. With a relatively recent history of immigration to the United States dating to 1965, reports estimate that 80,000 Thais make their home in Southern California. In spite of its brief history in the United States, the Thai community in Los Angeles has already left its mark on the city. While the proliferation of Thai-owned businesses and shops has converted East Hollywood and some San Fernando Valley neighborhoods to destinations for cultural tourism, the Thai community in Los Angeles County reverberates still from global attention over the 1995 El Monte human trafficking case. The great popularity of Thai cuisine, textiles, and cultural festivals continues to preserve, enrich, and showcase one of Asia’s most distinctive cultures.

The Persistence of Cambodian Poverty: From the Killing Fields to Today, by Harold Kerbo (McFarland Publishing)

'The Persistence of Cambodian Poverty' by Harold Kerbo

Since the tragedies of the “killing fields” and the rule of the Khmer Rouge, the global community has largely ignored the social issues plaguing Cambodia. Though the infamous killings have largely stopped, poverty and corruption are rampant in contemporary Cambodia. This book includes a short history of Cambodia and covers the systemic nature of Cambodian poverty, the economic success stories of Vietnam and Laos, the corruption in Cambodia, and hopes for its future. Intended for the general reader, this book is particularly relevant to those interested in the broader issue of eliminating world poverty.

Writing from These Roots: Literacy in a Hmong-American Community, by John M. Duffy (University of Hawai’i Press)

'Writing from the Roots' by John Duffy

Writing from These Roots documents the historical development of literacy in a Midwestern American community of Laotian Hmong, a people who came to the United States as refugees from the Vietnam War and whose language had no widely accepted written form until one created by missionary-linguists was adopted in the late twentieth century by Hmong in Laos and, later, the U.S. and other Western nations. As such, the Hmong have often been described as “preliterates,” “nonliterates,” or members of an “oral culture.” Although such terms are problematic, it is nevertheless true that the majority of Hmong did not read or write in any language when they arrived in the U.S.

For this reason, the Hmong provide a unique opportunity to study the forces that influence the development of reading and writing abilities in cultures in which writing is not widespread and to do so within the context of the political, economic, religious, military, and migratory upheavals classified broadly as “globalization.”

Drawing on life-history interviews collected from Hmong refugees in a Wisconsin community, this book examines the disparate political and institutional forces that shaped Hmong literacy development in the twentieth century, including, in Laos, French colonialism, Laotian nationalism, missionary Christianity, and the CIA during the Vietnam War. It further examines the influences on Hmong literary in the U.S., including public schooling, evangelical Christianity, ethnic self-help organizations, and media discourses about Hmong refugees.

In relating the particulars of the Hmong story, the author asks broad questions–still urgent and unresolved–about the nature of literacy development: How do people learn to read and write? What are the forces that nourish, compel, sustain, deny, or redeem literacy? What processes are at work when a majority of people within a given culture, begins, for the first time in its history, to acquire and use written language? And, finally, in what ways do minority peoples–refugees, immigrants, and others–claim the possibilities of literacy for themselves, using it as an instrument to compose identities, cultures, and conceptions of the world? Writing from These Roots offers a theoretical perspective on these and other questions concerning literacy development, one rooted in the symbolic interactions of peoples, cultures, and nations.

Laotian Daughters: Working toward Community, Belonging, and Environmental Justice, by Bindi V. Shah (Temple University Press)

'Laotian Daughters' by Bindi V. Shah

Laotian Daughters focuses on second-generation environmental justice activists in Richmond, California. Bindi Shah’s pathbreaking book charts these young women’s efforts to improve the degraded conditions in their community and explores the ways their activism and political practices resist the negative stereotypes of race, class, and gender associated with their ethnic group.

Using ethnographic observations, interviews, focus groups, and archival data on their participation in Asian Youth Advocates—a youth leadership development project—Shah analyzes the teenagers’ mobilization for social rights, cross-race relations, and negotiations of gender and inter-generational relations. She also addresses issues of ethnic youth, and immigration and citizenship and how these shape national identities.

Shah ultimately finds that citizenship as a social practice is not just an adult experience, and that ethnicity is an ongoing force in the political and social identities of second-generation Laotians.

Facing the Khmer Rouge: A Cambodian Journey, by Ronnie Yimsut (Rutgers University Press)

'Facing the Khmer Rouge' by Ronnie Yimsut

As a child growing up in Cambodia, Ronnie Yimsut played among the ruins of the Angkor Wat temples, surrounded by a close-knit community. As the Khmer Rouge gained power and began its genocidal reign of terror, his life became a nightmare. Teenaged Ronnie was left orphaned, literally buried under the bodies of his family and friends. In this stunning memoir, Yimsut describes how, in the wake of death and destruction, he decides to live.

Escaping the turmoil of Cambodia, he makes a perilous journey through the jungle into Thailand, only to be sent to a notorious Thai prison. Fortunately, he is able to reach a refugee camp and ultimately migrate to the United States, another frightening journey to the unknown. Yet he prevailed, attending the University of Oregon and becoming an influential leader in the community of Cambodian immigrants. Facing the Khmer Rouge shows Ronnie Yimsut’s personal quest to rehabilitate himself, make a new life in America, and then return to Cambodia to help rebuild the land of his birth.

February 22, 2012

Written by C.N.

Links, Jobs, & Announcements #60

Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Casting Call for Reality Show: Small Business Owners

Family-Owned Businesses That Need to Get Back on Their Feet: New Cable Series Looking for You

Major Network launches nationwide search for struggling family-owned businesses in need of help.

January 9, 2012: A major production company announces a nationwide search for struggling, family-owned businesses that are fighting to survive. This new, 1-hour series will feature a team of two experts who will provide life-saving solutions to faltering family businesses across the country. From amusement parks to dry cleaners, from junk yards to bakeries, the team of experts will delve into what is not working and provide the business a life-saving opportunity, and a new chance at success.

Metal Flowers Media is currently searching for family owned businesses across the country that are fighting to stay alive in this turbulent economy. The company must be in serious trouble, with monumental problems that they can’t seem to overcome, and must be open to taking advice from a team of experienced, credentialed business experts. Candidates must be US citizens, and over the age of 18.

For more information, or to apply for the chance to be featured on the series, please email us at beatriz@metalflowersmedia.com for more information, or log on to facebook.com/metalflowersmedia

This is a wonderful opportunity for the right individuals! Please forward to anyone or anybody you think could benefit and to anyone interested reply ASAP as we are on a tight deadline. Time is of the essence! Also, please feel free to call/email if you have any questions or concerns.

Beatriz Flores
Casting Dept.
818 396 7565
beatriz@metalflowersmedia.com

Summer Workshop: Re-envisioning Asian American Art, NYU

Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching
Date: July 9-28, 2012
Application Deadline: March 1, 2012

Asian/Pacific/American Institute (A/P/A Institute) at NYU will be hosting the upcoming 2012 NEH Summer Institute entitled “Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching.” Participants will understand the pivotal developments and critical issues in Asian American art history and visual cultural studies and will be given access to specialized archives that will enhance their research and teaching in the humanities.

If you are a college teacher, museum educator, independent scholar, or graduate student, click here to learn more about the application process.

Internships: Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership

CAPAL Federal Internships (10+ Placements) and Scholarships (3 awards) for Public Service

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan educational and professional organization dedicated to building leadership and public policy knowledge within the Asian Pacific American (APA) community. Its mission is to promote Asian Pacific American interests and success in public service careers, to provide information and education on policy issues affecting the APA community, and to serve the APA community at large.

Internship Opportunities:
Each summer, CAPAL places over 10 summer interns in the federal government. These internship positions are open to ALL MAJORS, and are suited for individuals looking to gain real-world federal government experience. CAPAL has partnerships with federal agencies including Agricultural Research Services, Forest Service, and Rural Development.

Each CAPAL intern will be awarded a $2,000 stipend to support the successful completion of his/her internship. Up to $500 travel stipends are available. Depending on interests and placement, duties could vary from policy or scientific research, project coordination and management, business, law, communication, and more. Applicants are asked to specify their preferences on the application, and those selected will be placed based on their interests and skills. Agricultural knowledge is not required. These internships are suitable for all students interested in government and public policy.

Location: Washington, DC, California, Oregon, Washington, and additional locations nationwide.

Applications for internships are available online. Offers will be extended on a rolling basis. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early. The submission deadline is March 9, 2012.

Scholarship Opportunities:
CAPAL will also be awarding 3 scholarships to outstanding Asian Pacific American (APA) college undergraduate and graduate students who will be interning in the Washington DC area for the summer. The scholarships are intended to enable APA individuals with leadership potential to work full-time and learn about ways to influence public policy in their local communities. Recipients of the CAPAL scholarships are responsible for securing their own internships.

The SunTrust Scholarship (2)
$3000 stipend and $1000 housing/travel stipend
(preference to students with financial need)

The Asha Jaini Scholarship
$2000 stipend

Applications for scholarships are available online. Offers will be extended on a rolling basis. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early. The submission deadline is March 9, 2012.

Internship and Scholarship Requirements: Demonstrates commitment to public service, including service to the Asian Pacific American community; GPA of 3.0 or higher; US Citizen; Current undergraduate or graduate student.

For more information, please visit www.capal.org.

All documents must be submitted by March 9, 2012. The online application, along with submission of your resume, letters of recommendation, and academic transcript(s) are all required for your application to be considered. Email scholarships@capal.org with any questions you may have.

Conference Call for Papers: Immigrants and Civil Society, Finland

16th Nordic Migration Research Conference & 9th ETMU Days
13-15 August 2012
University of Turku, Finland

The focus of much research of immigrants in the Nordic countries has been on the economic circumstances and state policies regarding migration and integration. Far less attention has been devoted to the role of the institutions of civil society in facilitating or impeding the incorporation of newcomers into Nordic societies. The theme of this conference is intended to be a response to that imbalance in research priorities.

The conference organizers are inviting papers that address issues related to the incorporation of newcomers into receiving societies in the developed world, with special emphasis on the Nordic countries, and on issues related to fair means of inclusion. These topics are broad and can be approached from a variety of thematic and methodological perspectives. Furthermore, the conference also welcomes all proposals within the broader field of ethnic and migration studies. The conference language is English.

The preliminary conference program can be viewed at http://www.etmu.fi/etmudays/nmrc2012/program.html.

Keynote speakers:
* Professor Jeffrey Alexander, Yale University, USA
* Dr. Phillip Connor, Pew Research Institute, USA
* Professor Leo Lucassen, Leiden University, the Netherlands
* Professor Carl-Ulrik Schierup, Linköping University, Sweden
* Dr. Marja Tiilikainen, University of Helsinki, Finland
* Dr. Salla Tuori, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Paper submission:
The workshops listed below have been accepted in the conference program. The organizers are now soliciting papers for these workshops. The abstracts describing the contents of each workshop can be found at http://www.etmu.fi/etmudays/nmrc2012/workshops.html.

  1. Changing family formation practices among ethnic minorities in the Nordic countries
  2. Childhood and migration in a Nordic context
  3. Counting immigrant religions
  4. Cultural diversity and education
  5. Democracy, resistance, civil society – New platforms and strategies for democratic transformation
  6. Differential inclusions in the Nordic societies? Feminist postcolonial and critical migration studies perspectives on immigration
  7. Gender, migration and social change
  8. Housing and residential segregation of immigrants
  9. Immigrants’ access to mass media and civil society: Perspectives from the Nordic countries
  10. Immigration and the duty of civility
  11. Integration in the intersection of public school and institutions of civil society: A workshop about migrant children’s integration processes
  12. International students and civil society
  13. Intersections of gender, race and ethnicity: Categorisations and lived experiences
  14. Migrants and ethnic minorities in Nordic labour markets
  15. Migration, religion, social dynamics
  16. Multiculturalism and civic culture
  17. Newcomers’ communities in the history of the Nordic region
  18. Nurturing human capital: The role of higher education institutions redefined
  19. Refugees in the Nordic countries – policy and practice
  20. The role of immigrant organizations in the integration process: Historical perspectives
  21. Transnationalism and diasporas in a Nordic context
  22. What attitudes to scholars from abroad in Nordic Higher Education?

Please submit your paper abstract using the online submission form. Please note than in the submission form you can either select one of the above-mentioned workshops or suggest your own workshop idea. In case no workshop is selected or
suggested, the organizers will group presentations that fit together thematically.

Abstract guidelines:

  • Save the abstract file in RTF or DOC format, using your last name as the file name
  • Do not use accented characters like ä, å or ö, etc. in the filename; replace them with a, o, or equivalent
  • Abstracts should be written and presented in English
  • The maximum number of words is 150-200 (body text) plus title and affiliations
  • The maximum size of the uploaded abstract is 1400 kilobytes
  • In case you have difficulties deciding on the workshop, please choose the option “other” on the workshop session list

The abstracts will be published in the Conference Programme and Abstracts Book.

Deadlines:
The closing date for paper proposals is 15 April 2012. Acceptances of workshop proposals will be announced on 7 May 2012.

Contact:
For more information, please contact Dr. Johanna Leinonen at johlei[at]utu.fi. For any questions regarding registration, payments, or accommodation, please contact the Congress Office at congress[at]utu.fi.

Conference organizers and partners:
ALPO – Developing Integration in Finland (European Social Fund – Ministry of the Interior)
European Migration Network (Finland)
FiDiPro Project Multiculturalism as a New Pathway to Incorporation (University of Turku)
Institute of Migration (Turku)
Network for Research on Multiculturalism and Societal Interaction (MCNet, University of Turku)
Nordic Migration Research (NMR)
Post-Secular Culture and a Changing Religious Landscape (PCCR, Åbo Akademi)
Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration (ETMU)

Conference: Immigration and Poverty, U.C. Davis

Immigration and  Poverty: Economic and Social Connections, Policy Approaches
May 17-18, 2012
University of California, Davis
Sponsored by the UC Davis Economy, Justice, and Society Program and the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research

The mobility of people across national boundaries is an exceptional economic force and catalyst for social and cultural change, but it is also a source of significant policy challenges. This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars studying the connection between migration and the economic development of individuals, markets, and states in both sending and receiving countries.

The first day of the conference will feature cutting-edge research by economists, sociologists, and demographers. The research will address three themes: “International Migration and Global Poverty,” “Immigration, Jobs and Wages,” and “Undocumented Immigrants and Their Assimilation.” The second day of the conference will examine “Immigration Policy: Current Limits and Potential for Reform” with a moderated discussion among immigration experts from the fields of law, economics, and sociology.

Conference admission is free with preregistration. Interested students, faculty, researchers, policy makers, and journalists are invited to attend. For more details and online conference registration, visit the conference website.

Conference: Birthright Citizenship, Univ. of MD

The Center for the History of the New America Announces its Inaugural Conference

Born in the USA: The Politics of Birthright Citizenship in Historical Perspective

March 29 & 30, 2012
University of Maryland at College Park

Co-Sponsors:
Institute for Constitutional History, University of Maryland Office of Equity and Diversity, University of Maryland Office of Undergraduate Studies, & The University of Maryland Law School

Next March, an interdisciplinary group of prominent academics, lawyers, jurists, journalists, and political figures will assemble in College Park for the Center for a New America’s first major conference. Their goal: to place in historical perspective the current debate as to whether the United States ought to reconsider birthright citizenship, which grants automatic citizenship to most persons born on the soil of the United States.

Birthright citizenship is part of the Constitution, having been put there by the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868. It has given the United States one of the most liberal citizenship regimes in the world, and it has helped to build America’s reputation as a land of immigrants, where anyone can come to seek opportunity, liberty, and equality in a regime of laws that does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, or national origins.

Some who want to eliminate birthright citizenship argue that it has acted as a perverse incentive for immigrants to seek illegal entry to the United States. It permits illegal immigrants to think that they can find a route to permanent residence and security in the United States by giving birth to children on American soil. Their children, who become American citizens upon birth, the argument goes, will “anchor” the illegal parents to America, thus rewarding behavior that ought to be punished.

The state of Arizona is at the forefront of this campaign against birthright citizenship, as it is for other aspects of the campaign against illegal immigrants. In the short term, anti-illegal immigrant forces in the state hope to trigger a legal challenge to a nineteenth-century Supreme Court ruling that declared that a child born to non-citizens on American soil is in fact an American citizen. In the long term these forces hope to stimulate a national campaign to amend the Fourteenth Amendment.

As with many issues regarding immigration, the debate sometimes proceeds with a lot of passion and without a strong knowledge of history. Here are some questions that would benefit from a robust exploration: First, how aware were the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment about the immigration question? To the extent to which they were, what were their thoughts about immigration and birthright citizenship? What do we know of the original intent of the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment’s citizenship clause? Second, why did the Supreme Court in 1898 uphold birthright citizenship for the children of non-citizens? And why in some cases were Native Americans treated differently with regard to birthright citizenship?

Third, how well or how poorly did birthright citizenship work for America, in regards both to legal and illegal immigration, over the course of American history after 1868? On balance, has birthright citizenship been a source of cohesion or discord, of Americanization or cultural balkanization, in American life? Fourth, from the contemporary perspective, what evidence can be marshaled to show that illegal immigrants today are motivated to come by the promise of birthright citizenship for their children? And, finally, what would be the consequences to the Constitution, to personal liberties, and to immigration of a successful effort to remove birthright citizenship from the Fourteenth Amendment?

2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner Eric Foner of Columbia University will open the conference with a keynote address. Other confirmed participants include former Solicitor General of the United States Walter Dellinger; Fourteenth Amendment experts Peter Schuck (Yale Law School), Garrett Epps (University of Baltimore Law School), and Mark Graber (University of Maryland Law School); noted historians Gary Gerstle (Vanderbilt University), David Gutierrez (UCSD), Linda Kerber (University of Iowa), Mae Ngai (Columbia University), and William Novak (University of Michigan School of Law); New York Times journalists Marc Lacey and Nina Bernstein; sociologist Alejandro Portes (Princeton University); and legal scholars Linda Bosniak (Rutgers Law School), Christina Burnett (Columbia Law School), Ayelet Shachar (University of Toronto Law School), and Rebecca Tsosie (Arizona St. Law School). More participants will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Call for Authors: Multicultural America Encyclopedia

We are inviting academic editorial contributors to Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia, a new 4-volume reference to be published in 2013 by SAGE Publications. Click here to download a zip file that contains the complete article list (Excel file), submission guidelines, entry guides, and sample article. The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2012. We hope you will consider participating in this exciting new project.

Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia presents state-of-the-art research, ready-to-use facts, and multimedia pedagogy. The approximately 950 signed entries (with cross-references and further readings) will cover issues in historical and contemporary ethnic and multicultural studies.

The print 4 volumes and the online edition with 100 videos will include information relevant to the following academic disciplinary contexts: the demographic and cultural balance of the United States today and tomorrow; arts and media; business and economics; criminal justice; education; family studies; health; immigration; media; military; politics; science and technology; sports; and religion. From A-to-Z, this work covers the spectrum of defining and illuminating multiculturalism. The goals of this encyclopedia are to help readers gain a better understanding of:

  • The historical development of multicultural America
  • The contemporary American multicultural mosaic
  • The possible future trajectories of American multiculturalism

In writing, contributors should consider their entries’ contribution to these three goals. Where appropriate, entries should include data from and references to the 2010 United States census.

This comprehensive project will be marketed to academic and public libraries as a print and digital product available to students via the library’s electronic services. The General Editor, who will be reviewing each submission to the project, is Dr. Carlos E. Cortes, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California, Riverside.

If you are interested in contributing to this cutting-edge reference, it is a unique opportunity to contribute to the contemporary literature, redefining sociological issues in today’s terms. SAGE Publications offers an honorarium ranging from SAGE book credits for smaller articles up to a free set of the printed product for contributions totaling 10,000 words or more.

If you would like to contribute to building a truly outstanding reference with Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia, please send me your selections from the list of articles and I will confirm availability.

Thanks very much,
Lisbeth Rogers
Author Manager
multicultural@golsonmedia.com

Call for Submissions: Anti-Racist Classroom Teaching Activities

The editor of a forthcoming book, “Teaching Anti-Racism in Contemporary America,” seeks submissions that describe and analyze classroom activities focused on anti-racist pedagogy for inclusion in the text.

The book includes contributions and essays from a number of scholars, including Joe Feagin, Kathleen Blee, Noel Cazenave, David Pellow, Rose Brewer, and many others. Classroom activity submissions should be of high caliber and engage students to think critically about racial politics in the 21st Century. Questions and contributions should be sent to the editor, Kristin Haltinner, at halt0033@umn.edu.

Fellowship: Leadership Training< NY

New York Governor Cuomo invites talented professionals interested in public service to apply to the Empire State Fellows Program. We are writing to ask that you distribute this opportunity widely within your
networks.

The Empire State Fellows Program is a full-time leadership training program that will prepare the next generation of talented professionals for careers as New York State policy-makers. The first class of Empire State Fellows will serve from September 2012 to September 2014. Each Empire State Fellow will receive compensation commensurate with experience plus benefits. At the end of the fellowship, a performance review process will identify fellows that will be given the opportunity to continue to serve as leaders in New York State government after completing the program.

New York Governor Cuomo will appoint each Empire Fellow to work directly with a Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, or other high-level policy maker. Work assignments will offer Fellows unparalleled experience collaborating with senior officials and participating in the policy-making process. While taking part in the work of government, Empire Fellows will participate in educational and professional development programs that will prepare them to confront the increasingly complex policy challenges facing New York State.

Applications for the Empire State Fellows Program must be received no later than June 1, 2012. Additional information about the Empire State Fellows Program is available on our website at www.newnyleaders.com.

Call for Supporters: Asian American Movie

My name is Joyce and I’m an Asian-American writer, actress and filmmaker. I’m getting in touch with you today to tell you about my newest feature film.

It’s called The Real Mikado and you can check out the campaign here: http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Real-Mikado-A-Feature-Film

The film is about an out of work Asian-American actress in New York who runs out of money and moves back in with her parents in the suburbs of Detroit. The town is facing a budget crisis and wants to shut down the community theater. She agrees to direct a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera The Mikado to try and save it. It’s a fun but poignant coming-of-age comedy.

Right now, I’m working on securing funding via the IndieGoGo platform. I would be so grateful if you could consider writing a post about the film, sharing it with your followers, or even donating. I noticed you write often about Asian-American identity and I think we can all agree it’s about time for a film featuring an Asian-American character who isn’t just an ethnic side kick or massage parlor worker.

Any help you can give to this film would be greatly appreciated. I know how busy you are, so thank you for taking the time to read this and for checking out the project.

February 20, 2012

Written by C.N.

It Was Inevitable: Racial Ignorance Against Jeremy Lin

In my recent post titled, “Jeremy Lin Mania and How it Relates to Colorblindness,” among other things, I noted that Jeremy’s emergence as a media sensation and explosion onto the center stage of mainstream U.S. popular culture does represent a small step toward the eventual ideal of colorblindness. At the same time, I also argued that the reality is that unfortunately, we are still a long way from being a truly colorblind society.

This past week, several public incidents have solidified the sad fact that many Americans still think that we are already in a colorblind society and as such, they can basically say anything they want about Jeremy, including offensive references to him as a Chinese American. Unfortunately there have been several examples of racial insensitivity in the past couple of weeks, but in this post I will focus on two in particular.

First, after the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in which Jeremy scored 38 points, FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock tweeted “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.” Whitlock later apologized for the remark, but you can’t unring that bell — clearly he thought it was perfectly acceptable to invoke the emasculating racial stereotype about Asian men having small penises.

But wait, there’s more.

A few days later, after Jeremy committed nine turnovers in a game that the Knicks eventually lost, thereby snapping their 7-game winning streak, the following headline made it onto ESPN’s mobile website (screenshot below): “Chinks in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets.”

'Chink in the Armor' headline on ESPN mobile website

The headline was apparently taken down after being public for 35 minutes but again, the damage was done — the editors at ESPN apparently had no idea or did not care that the term “chink” is a blatantly racist term against all Asian Americans but particularly and deeply offensive to Chinese Americans. I might expect people outside the U.S., such as Spain’s national basketball team, not to know that the term “chink” is racist, but it is very disappointing to learn that many Americans still think it’s perfectly fine to use in reference to a Chinese American.

Disappointing, but unfortunately not really surprising.

That is because many Americans already believe, consciously or unconsciously, that we are already a colorblind society. As such, they have been taught, socialized, and desensitized to naively think that all racial groups are equal now, that no racial discrimination ever takes place nowadays, and therefore, it’s fine to casually use terms such as “chink” in everyday conversation.

These particular incidents may not be as blatantly offensive as the racial taunts Jeremy encountered back when he played for Harvard, but they nonetheless illustrate a woeful level of ignorance and lack of sensitivity about Asian Americans, our history, and our community.

Imagine what the public’s reaction would have been if Jason Whitlock was referring to a Black player and his remark invoked the racial stereotype about Black men having large penises. What would the public’s reaction had been if ESPN went public with some headline that referred to a Black player using the ‘N’ word? I think it would be safe to say that the American public would be shocked, outraged, and furious if these hypothetical examples occurred in reference to a Black player.

To Whitlock’s and ESPN’s credit, they both apologized and in ESPN’s case, fired the person responsible for the website headline and suspended one of their sportscasters, Max Bretos, who repeated the “chink in the armor” phrase on air. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and decisively ESPN acted in regard to these incidents. In the past, more than likely, ESPN would have taken days to issue a half-hearted apology and probably would not have disciplined any of their staff involved. I suppose ESPN’s actions in this matter do represent an encouraging sign of progress.

Fortunately, there are others in the mainstream media who “get it” — those who understand the contradiction and inequality that exist when such racial/ethnic stereotypes are in reference to, say Blacks, versus when they reference Asian Americans. Specifically, leave it the crew at Saturday Night Live to use comedy and satire to deftly illustrate this contradiction:

So I suppose that it does represent progress that when these types of racially ignorant incidents happen, the mainstream media nowadays does recognize it and take disciplinary action (or use satire to point out the absurdity of such ignorance) more quickly than in the past. Now if we can just get to the point where such incidents don’t happen in the first place.

February 13, 2012

Written by C.N.

Jeremy Lin Mania and How It Relates to Colorblindness

Back in 2010, I wrote about Jeremy Lin, who was leading Harvard University to a league title, a birth in the NCAA postseason tournament, and was poised to become one of the first Asian American players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Back then, I pointed out how he represents an example of Asian Americans balancing both model minority expectations with an extracurricular passion, and in doing so, is expanding the definition of success for Asian Americans.

Jeremy Lin, point guard for the New York Knicks © Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire

Since then, Jeremy went undrafted in the NBA after graduation but has now landed with the New York Knicks and is now exploding onto the basketball scene, as this New York Times article describes:

On Saturday night [Feb. 4, 2012], Lin came off the bench and powered the Knicks to a 99-92 victory over the Nets at Madison Square Garden, scoring a career-best 25 points with 7 assists. Two nights later, he made his first N.B.A. start and produced 28 points and 8 assists in a 99-88 win over the Utah Jazz.

Knicks fans now serenade Lin with chants of “Je-re-my!” and “M.V.P.!” while the franchise uses his likeness to sell tickets and teammates and coaches gush with praise. . . . Lin is raising expectations, altering the Knicks’ fate and redefining the word “unlikely.” On Twitter, fans and basketball pundits are using another term to describe the phenomenon: “Linsanity.”

[H]e became the first player in more than 30 years to record at least 28 points and 8 assists in his first N.B.A. start. . . . When the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers Dec. 27, he was fourth on the depth chart at point guard. Now he is No. 1, continuing a long pattern of low expectations and surprising results.

As another example of the accelerating Jeremy Lin bandwagon, ABC News just named Jeremy its “Person of the Week” and profiled him in the following news segment video:

Needless to say, Jeremy’s explosion into the U.S. cultural mainstream has inspired many Americans, and particularly Asian Americans. Beyond the mainstream media’s ever-increasing proclamations of him as “Linsanity,” “Lincredible,” “Going All Lin,” “Lin Your Face,” or “May the Best Man Lin,” Jeremy has also been described as Asian Americans’ version of Tim Tebow, both for embracing his Christian faith and for the media sensation and “Linspiration” that he has become for so many Asian Americans. For the record, Jeremy is the first monoracial (that is, both his parents are Asian) Asian American (either born or raised in the U.S.) to play in the NBA, and one of the few monoracial Asian Americans to play professional team sports in the U.S. at all.

In so many ways, Jeremy represents a big step forward for Asian Americans and U.S. society in general in terms of racial inclusion and being considered part of mainstream U.S. culture. Jeremy’s success actually follows a similar breakthrough moment for Asian Americans last year, as the hip-hop group Far East Movement became the first all-Asian American musical group to hit number one on the music charts with their single “Like a G6.” As another example of the “mainstreaming” of Asian Americans, the creators of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” are apparently in the process of creating a version that features an all-Asian American cast, to be called “K-Town.”

From a sociological point of view, the cultural emergence of Jeremy Lin, Far East Movement, and K-Town demonstrate that Asian Americans are indeed increasingly part of the U.S. mainstream. Up to this point, because of the relative scarcity of Asian Americans in the mainstream media and popular culture, it was usually a shock when we did see an Asian American on TV, in the movies, or on the music charts.

But as Asian Americans becoming increasingly common in these areas of U.S. popular culture, are we headed for a day when it is no longer a “big deal” when we see Asian American faces in the media, just like it’s taken for granted when we see White faces or Black faces? Ultimately, yes, that is the goal — for us as a society to no longer consider it “strange” or “unusual” to see Asian Americans in the media or in other prominent positions in U.S. social institutions.

If this idea sounds familiar, you might know it by its more common name — colorblindness.

In other words, part of being colorblind is what I just described — an ideal situation in which everyone in U.S. society is considered equal and when social, political, and economic distinctions based on race or ethnicity are no longer important or carry any sort of advantage or disadvantage. So in many respects, Jeremy Lin’s success gives us hope that, as a society, we are moving a little closer to the ideals of colorblindness.

Having said that, as I have written repeatedly in this blog, in order to eventually attain this ideal of true colorblindness, we first have to recognize that despite the progress that our nation has made in eradicating racism, the practical reality is that inequalities based on race and ethnicity unfortunately still exist and that groups such as Asian Americans still experience much ignorance, intolerance, and outright discrimination because of their identity and position as a racial minority group.

Therefore, much like the idea of Asian Americans as the “model minority,” I think we should definitely embrace and celebrate the emergence of Jeremy Lin, Far East Movement, and other examples in which Asian Americans are recognized for their success. Their accomplishments reflect how it is not a contradiction to recognize both their racial/ethnic uniqueness and their position as an integral part of mainstream society.

At the same time, we should also keep in mind that while we are getting closer to the ultimate ideal of colorblindness, there is still a lot of work to be done. Along with that, in order to keep working toward a time when true equality exists across all racial/ethnic groups, we need to understand that racial/ethnic distinctions still exist and still matter, and that the success of one person or a few people within that racial/ethnic minority group does not yet mean that members of that group no longer experience any injustice or discrimination.

In the meantime, despite my roots as a Los Angeles Lakers fan, I will definitely be rooting for Jeremy to keep lighting up the scoreboard and the “Lin-magination” of all Americans and beyond.

February 8, 2012

Written by C.N.

Welcoming an Immigrant & Racial Minority to a New School

As regular readers to this blog know already (and as I write in the top section of every Asian-Nation post I write), I feel very strongly “public sociology” — to make sociological theory, research, and data as accessible to as wide of an audience as possible, and as applicable to real-world issues and situations as possible. I recently received an email that gave me just that opportunity.

Specifically, one reader wrote to me:

I am a full time elementary school teacher and I will have a new student in a few days from China. He and his family do not speak English–they are opening a restaurant in our small community. In our community, he will be the only Asian child. What can I do to help him not feel so alone and alienated? I know language will be a problem, but what could I as his teacher do to help? I was scanning the internet trying to find resources and found your site. Thank you for your time.

I replied back:

I commend you on trying to find ways to make this new student feel welcomed. Although my expertise is not in education, these are some suggestions that come to mind:

Young Chinese student © Justin Guariglia/Corbis

(1) Some time ago, there was a commercial (I forgot what the actual product or service was), but it showed a young Chinese boy about to enter a predominantly White school for his first day. Before entering, he was speaking in Chinese with his mom outside and told her, “My English is not good. What if the other students hate me?” His mother calmly replied, “You’ll be fine.” As he entered his classroom escorted by the principal, the teacher introduced the new student to the class. Then the entire class welcomed him by saying in unison, “Ni hao [student’s name]” — translated, it means “Hello [student’s name].” It was very sweet and it would be great if your class would do the same.

(2) You may already have plans to do so already, but I’ve heard from many educators that it helps new students if one or two other students are assigned to be their “guide” or someone who will spend time him the new student, show him around the school, eat lunch with him, introduce him to other students, and basically act like an ambassador for him to make him feel more comfortable.

(3) You may know Google Translate already , but if not, it’s a great tool to assist in translating between different languages. In the meantime, you’ll probably be surprised how quickly the student will learn English. Just stay patient and positive while he does.

(4) Perhaps some time in the future, your class can make a field trip to his parent’s restaurant to learn about Chinese food, running a small business, etc. This would be a great way to welcome the family to the community and to show the other students that he is welcomed in their class.

(5) Finally and perhaps most importantly, I hope you and the rest of the teachers and administrators can do whatever possible to stay on top of any incidents of racial teasing. Nothing will alienate the new student more than if other students start making fun of him because he’s Chinese — because he’s different than everybody else around him. With that in mind, it is absolutely critical to let the other students (in your class and elsewhere) that it is not acceptable to make fun of him because he’s Chinese and that any such incidents will be punished. This how we start to break the cycle of racial prejudice — one student at a time.

The teacher wrote me back and thanked me for the ideas and seemed very excited about them.

This question of how a school, administrators, teachers, and students can best welcome new student who is both an immigrant and a racial minority to their class got me thinking that, rather then just giving her my ideas, I should “crowdsource” this question and ask all of you for your suggestions on how to best welcome this new student.

If you have been in this situation, either as the new student, one of the existing students, or the educator, what were some ways to make this new student feel welcomed and comfortable? Or even if you were never in this situation, what are some strategies to try? If you are a researcher who is familiar with this issue, what are some “best practices” that have been shown to be effective? I would love to hear from others with your ideas and suggestions.

As globalization and demographic changes keep taking place and as U.S. society and more communities around the country like this become more diverse and multicultural, this kind of situation is likely to become more common. In other words, this is sociology taking place in the real world.

February 1, 2012

Written by C.N.

New Books & Recent News Articles on Immigration

As always, the start of the new semester has been quite busy and a little hectic. As a result and as my regular readers have probably noticed, I have not been able to write new posts as often as I would like. This spring semester, I am teaching my “Sociology of Immigration” course once again, so below are summaries of some newly-released books and recent news articles related to the issue of immigration to the U.S. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Citizenship and Immigration, by Christian Joppke (Polity)

'Citizenship and Immigration' by Christian Joppke

This incisive book provides a succinct overview of the new academic field of citizenship and immigration, as well as presenting a fresh and original argument about changing citizenship in our contemporary human rights era. Instead of being nationally resilient or in “postnational” decline, citizenship in Western states has continued to evolve, converging on a liberal model of inclusive citizenship with diminished rights implications and increasingly universalistic identities.

This convergence is demonstrated through a sustained comparison of developments in North America, Western Europe and Australia. Topics covered in the book include: recent trends in nationality laws; what ethnic diversity does to the welfare state; the decline of multiculturalism accompanied by the continuing rise of antidiscrimination policies; and the new state campaigns to “upgrade” citizenship in the post-2001 period.

The Fence: National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration along the U.S.-Mexico Border, by Robert Lee Maril (Texas Tech University Press)

'The Fence' by Robert Lee Maril

To the American public it’s a 2,000-mile-long project to keep illegal immigrants, narcotics, and terrorists on the other side of the U.S.–Mexico border. In the deserts of Arizona, it’s a “virtual fence” of high-tech electronic sensors, cameras, and radar. In some border stretches it’s a huge concrete-and-steel wall; in others it’s a series of solitary posts designed to stop drug runners; in still others it’s rusted barbed-wire cattle fences. For two-thirds of the international boundary it’s nonexistent. Just what is this entity known as “the fence”? And more important, is it working?

Through first-person interviews with defense contractors, border residents, American military, Minutemen, county officials, Customs and Border Protection agents, environmental activists, and others whose voices have never been heard, Robert Lee Maril examines the project’s human and financial costs. Along with Maril’s site visits, his rigorous analysis of government documents from 1999 to the present uncovers fiscal mismanagement by Congress, wasteful defense contracts, and unkept political promises. As drug violence mounts in border cities and increasing numbers of illegal migrants die from heat exhaustion in the Arizona desert, Maril argues how the fence may even be making an incendiary situation worse.

Avoiding preconceived conclusions, he proposes new public policies that take into consideration human issues, political negotiation, and the need for compromise. Maril’s lucid study shows the fence to be a symbol in concrete, steel, microchips, and fiber optics for the crucible of contemporary immigration policy, national security, and public safety.

Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post-9/11 America, by Tanya Maria Golash-Boza (Paradigm Publishers)

'Immigration Nation' by Tanya Maria Golash-Boza

Immigration Nation is a critical analysis of the human rights impact of US immigration policy. In the wake of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created to prevent terrorist attacks. The creation of DHS led to dramatic increases in immigration law enforcement raids, detentions and deportations have increased six-fold in the past decade. Immigration Nation considers the widespread impact of this new enforcement regime.

Immigration Nation explains how immigration policies in the U.S. have had negative consequences for citizens, families and communities. Even though family reunification is officially a core component of U.S. immigration policy, our policies often tear families apart. Despite the perception that immigration policy primarily affects immigrants, it frequently has devastating effects on citizens. The immigration policy debate is nearly always framed in terms of security and economic needs. In contrast, this book addresses the debate with the human rights of migrants and their families at the center of the analyses.

Living “Illegal”: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration, by Marie Friedmann Marquardt, Timothy J. Steigenga, Philip J. Williams, and Manuel A. Vasquez (New Press)

'Living Illegal' by Marquardt, Steigenga, Williams, and Vazquez

Today’s polarized debates over immigration revolve around a set of one-dimensional characters and unchallenged stereotypes. Yet the resulting policy prescriptions, not least of them Arizona’s draconian new law SB 1070, are dangerously real and profoundly counterproductive. A major new antidote to this trend, Living “Illegal” is an ambitious new account of the least understood and most relevant aspects of the American immigrant experience today. Based on years of research into the lives of ordinary migrants, Living “Illegal” offers richly textured stories of real people—working, building families, and enriching their communities even as the political climate grows more hostile.

Moving far beyond stock images and conventional explanations, Living “Illegal” challenges our assumptions about why immigrants come to the United States, where they settle, and how they have adapted to the often confusing patchwork of local immigration ordinances. This revealing narrative takes us into Southern churches (which have quietly emerged as the only organizations open to migrants), into the fields of Florida, onto the streets of major American cities during the historic immigrant rights marches of 2006, and back and forth across different national boundaries—from Brazil to Mexico and Guatemala.

A deeply humane book, Living “Illegal” will stand as an authoritative new guide to one of the most pressing issues of our time.

The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness and Hope, by Claudia Kolker (Free Press)

'The Immigrant Advantage' by Claudia Kolker

Do you have a relative or friend who would gladly wait on you, hand and foot, for a full month after you had a baby? How about someone to deliver a delicious, piping hot home-cooked meal, just like your mother’s, right to your front door after work? Do you know people you’d trust enough to give several hundred dollars a month to, with no receipt, on the simple promise that the accumulated wealth will come back to you a year later?

Not many of us can answer “yes” to these questions. But as award-winning journalist Claudia Kolker has discovered, each of these is one of a wide variety of cherished customs brought to the United States by immigrant groups, often adapted to American life by the second generation in a distinctive blending of old and new. Taken together, these extraordinary traditions may well contribute to what’s known as “the immigrant paradox,” the growing evidence that immigrants, even those from poor or violence-wracked countries, tend to be both physically and mentally healthier than most native-born Americans.

These customs are unfamiliar to most Americans, but they shouldn’t be. Honed over centuries, they provide ingenious solutions to daily challenges most of us face and provide both social support and comfort. They range from Vietnamese money clubs that help people save and Mexican cuarentenas—a forty-day period of rest for new mothers—to Korean afterschools that offer highly effective tutoring at low cost and Jamaican multigenerational households that help younger family members pay for college and, eventually, their own homes.

Fascinated by the success of immigrant friends, Claudia Kolker embarked on a journey to uncover how these customs are being carried on and adapted by the second and third generations, and how they can enrich all of our lives. In a beautifully written narrative, she takes readers into the living rooms, kitchens, and restaurants of immigrant families and neighborhoods all across the country, exploring the sociable street life of Chicago’s “Little Village,” a Mexican enclave with extraordinarily low rates of asthma and heart disease; the focused quiet of Korean afterschool tutoring centers; and the loving, controlled chaos of a Jamaican extended-family home.

She chronicles the quests of young Indian Americans to find spouses with the close guidance of their parents, revealing the benefits of “assisted marriage,” an American adaptation of arranged marriage. And she dives with gusto into some of the customs herself, experimenting to see how we might all fit them into our lives. She shows us the joy, and excitement, of savoring Vietnamese “monthly rice” meals delivered to her front door, hiring a tutor for her two young girls, and finding a powerful sense of community in a money-lending club she started with friends.

The Immigrant Advantage is an adventurous exploration of little-known traditional wisdom, and how in this nation of immigrants our lives can be enriched by the gifts of our newest arrivals.

Massachusetts is Third State to Reject Obama Immigration Program

  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joins his counterparts in New York and Illinois in declining to participate in the controversial federal “Secure Communities” program that critics charge encourage police to round up anyone suspected of being undocumented.

Red-Blue Divide Widens on Issue of Undocumented Immigration

  • “America’s red and blue states are increasingly going in exactly opposite directions on the issue of illegal immigration – a testament to how difficult finding middle ground has become on the federal level.”

Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North

  • “The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United States over the past 30 years has sputtered to a trickle, and research points to a surprising cause: unheralded changes in Mexico that have made staying home more attractive. A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments — expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families — are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States.”

Deportations Of Immigrants Hits Record Number Under Obama Administration

  • “Huge increases in deportations of people after they were arrested for breaking traffic or immigration laws or driving drunk helped the Obama administration set a record last year for the number of criminal immigrants forced to leave the country, documents show. . . . The spike in the numbers of people deported for traffic offenses as well as a 78 percent increase in people deported for immigration-related offenses renewed skepticism about the administration’s claims that it is focusing on the most dangerous criminals.”

Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit

  • As the U.S. and other western countries ramp up their arrest and deportation of suspected undocumented immigration, private security companies are seeing skyrocketing business and profits.

Immigration Crackdown Also Snares Americans

  • “In a spate of recent cases across the country, American citizens have been confined in local jails after federal immigration agents, acting on flawed information from Department of Homeland Security databases, instructed the police to hold them for investigation and possible deportation. Americans said their vehement protests that they were citizens went unheard by local police officers and jailers for days, with no communication with federal immigration agents to clarify the situation. Any case where an American is held, even briefly, for immigration investigation is a potential wrongful arrest because immigration agents lack legal authority to detain citizens.”

Arizona Sheriff Violates Civil Rights of Latinos, Justice Department Says

  • “The U.S. government said Thursday that [Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio] who called himself the toughest sheriff in America ran an office that has committed wide-ranging civil rights violations against Latinos, including a pattern of racial profiling and heavy-handed immigration patrols based on racially charged complaints. The U.S. Justice Department’s expert on measuring racial profiling called it the most egregious case he has seen, the department’s civil rights division chief told reporters.”

Arizona Candidate Challenged Over English Skills

  • “What began as an effort by political opponents to block Alejandrina Cabrera from the ballot for a seat on the City Council has mushroomed into an uncomfortable discussion of just how fluent Arizona officeholders need to be. Like many other states, Arizona has long required politicians at all levels to speak, read and write English, but the law fails to spell out just what that means. Is grade-school knowledge enough? Must one speak flawlessly? Who is to decide?”

In Lights of Charges of Anti-Latino Abuse, East Haven Mayor Says He’ll Support Latinos by Eating Tacos

  • Federal prosecutors charge four East Haven CT police officers with systematically harassing, beating, and retaliating against Latinos in their town and people who spoke up for them. East Haven’s Police Chief is eventually forced to resign. When asked how he would support Latinos in his community in lights of these indictments, East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. answered, “I might have tacos when I go home.”