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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.

November 16, 2015

Written by C.N.

Deportations Punish Children Most

The following is a post written by my colleague (and wife) Miliann Kang, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It was originally published at The Conversation.

Our national identity as a welcoming destination for immigrants is being eroded by our fear of undocumented immigrants – fears that are increasingly impacting children.

The fourth GOP debate again revealed the fault lines in the Republican Party and in the country around immigration. Donald Trump called for mass deportations, while Jeb Bush argued such a policy would tear communities apart.

The fact is: such deportations are already happening, in record numbers. Experts are divided about what the impact of President Obama’s 2014 executive order will be. Will the granting of temporary status be outweighed by the increased enforcement measures?

In the meantime, families continue to live in fear, especially those with children.

When we deport their parents, we reinforce the rhetoric that “anchor babies” are a drain on the system by turning them into public charges. I have been thinking a lot about these left-behind children as my teaching at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and research on immigration intersects with their very real stories.

1.6 Million Kids

In September, five-year-old Sofía Cruz captured headlines and sympathy when she delivered a letter to Pope Francis pleading for comprehensive immigration reform.

Rewind five years. Then seven-year-old Daisy Cuevas stole hearts by telling Michelle Obama that “Barack Obama is taking away everybody who doesn’t have papers” and “my mom doesn’t have any.’ Her family then went into hiding.

Sofía’s and Daisy’s only crime is being born to parents who lack proper papers. That and being brown, or yellow.

In Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans, Luis Zayas, dean of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, underlines the extent of the problem:

In the span of eight years, our nation’s decision to deport 3,165,426 unauthorized immigrants has affected about 1,582,711 citizen-children. … Legislators who promote increased enforcement effectively increase family disruption and separation; citizen-children are collateral damage.”

Potentially as many citizen-children are living abroad in exile, as their parents grapple with taking them to countries where they have never set foot or leaving their children in the US.

Sammy is a teenager I recently met who was born and raised in the Southwest. His parents were living in the US, working and raising their children, until they were stopped for a traffic violation, or audited for taxes, or turned in by a teacher or medical provider, or any of the mundane ways that undocumented status gets uncovered.

Now Sammy is living with foster parents. They are kind and genuinely interested in his well-being. Sammy is doing his best to adjust to a new school and community. His parents communicate with him regularly, but they can’t be here to help him learn to drive, prepare for the SAT or nurse him through his first heartbreak.

In Loco Parentis

An anti-deportation protester shouts at Obama © Jason Reed/Reuters

I am glad Sammy has someone in loco parentis – in place of a parent – to help him weather the normal teen dramas, and the exceptional challenges of his situation. But I also think we as a society are “loco” for refusing to fix an immigration system that makes so many parents unable to parent their own children.

The Economic Policy Institute’s Facts About Immigration and the U.S. Economy states:

“Immigrants have an outsized role in US economic output because they are disproportionately likely to be working and are concentrated among prime working ages. Indeed, despite being 13% of the population, immigrants comprise 16% of the labor force.”

In recognition of this reality and to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, Congress introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, but failed to pass it.

As these studies show, we rely on immigrant labor to care for our children, elders and sick, but do not provide sufficient legal pathways for them to do this work, then vilify them for breaking the law and deport them. Many people have heard about the massive increase in deportations, but ignore them or convince themselves that they are necessary. The argument goes that these are criminals and potential terrorists, rather than our neighbors and our coworkers.

We are in a moment where we may be able to see these children, and their parents, as people and citizens, but we have had many of these moments and they have passed without action. It’s time now to move away from this crazy loco parentis.

August 18, 2015

Written by C.N.

Online Survey: Asian American Fathering

Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about parenting practices among Asian American fathers. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.

My name is Zuzanna Molenda-Kostanski and I am a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in the Department of Professional Psychology and Family Therapy at Seton Hall University. I am interested in gaining a better understanding of the experiences of Asian American men as fathers by exploring how certain factors, including acculturation, gender-role conflict and parenting self-efficacy may impact father’s involvement with children. I would like to invite you to participate in my study.

The study consists of a survey that is quick and easy to fill out. You can complete it online at your own convenience, and it may take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Participation in this study is completely voluntary and anonymous. The survey will not ask you for any identifying information about you and you are free to withdraw at any time. Additionally, any information gathered from the study will be kept on a USB memory key and stored in a locked secure office that will only be accessible to myself and my research advisor, Dr. Laura Palmer.

If you are at least 18 years old and are willing to participate in this study please click on the following link:
Your consent to participate in the study is indicated by clicking on the link and completing the survey. The survey will be running between August 2015 and January 2016.

If you have any questions about the study please feel free to contact me or my research adviser using the contact information provided below. This study has been approved by the Seton Hall University Institutional Review Board.

Thank you for your time and consideration of your participation in my study.

Zuzanna Molenda-Kostanski, M.A.
Counseling Psychology PhD Program
Seton Hall University

Laura Palmer, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychology PhD Program Seton Hall University

Mary F. Ruzicka, Ph.D.
Director of Institutional Review Board
Seton Hall University

June 22, 2015

Written by C.N.

Interesting Statistics for Immigrant Heritage Month

I must admit that I did not know that June is Immigrant Heritage Month. Up until now, I thought that although the U.S. recognizes all sorts of historical occasions with their own official month that we did not have a month to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to the U.S., despite the U.S. supposedly being the “Land of Immigrants.” I was therefore surprised to learn that 2014 was the first year that we officially celebrated June as Immigrant Heritage Month. Better late than never, I suppose.

At any rate, to mark this occasion, the Census Bureau released the infographic below that highlights some important demographic data and trends about the U.S.’s foreign-born population in 2010 compared to 1960.

If you are interested, the Census Bureau also has a more detailed summary report titled “The Foreign-Born Population in the U.S.: 2010” as well. Here are some highlights regarding the U.S.’s foreign-born population in 2010, with some comparisons to the U.S.-born population:

  • In 2010, more than 1 in 4 foreign-born residents lived in California.
  • Over 80% of the foreign-born population was between the ages of 18 to 64, compared to 60% for the U.S.-born population.
  • However, the native population had a higher proportion under the age of 18 than the foreign-born population. About 27% of the native population was under age 18, compared with 7% of the foreign born. This difference reflects the fact that children of immigrants born in the United States are, by definition, native.
  • More than three-fourths (77%) of foreign-born households and almost two-thirds (65%) of native households were family households.
  • A higher proportion of foreign-born (55%) than native (48%) households were maintained by a married couple. Among the regions of birth, householders born in Asia (63%) and Oceania (62%) were the most likely to be in a married-couple household. Within Latin America, households with a householder born in Mexico were the most likely to be maintained by a married couple (58%).
  • The average size of foreign-born households (3.4 persons) was larger than that of native households (2.5 persons). One reason for this difference is that a higher proportion of foreign-born family households (62%) than native-born family households (47%) included children under the age of 18.
  • Additionally, a higher proportion of foreign-born family households (10%) than native-born family households (5%) were multi-generational households with three or more generations living together.
  • Fifteen percent of the foreign-born population spoke only English at home. An additional 33% spoke a language other than English at home and spoke English “very well.”
  • In terms of educational attainment, among the foreign born aged 25 and older, 68% were high school graduates or higher, including 27% who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. By comparison, 89% of the native born aged 25 and older were high school graduates, including 28% who had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Foreign-born males (79%) were more likely to be in the labor force than native males (68%). In contrast, native females (60%) were more likely to have participated in the labor force compared with foreign-born females (57%).
  • The median household income of foreign-born households in the 12 months prior to being surveyed was $46,224, compared with $50,541 for native households. The difference in income was larger when focusing only on family households: the median income was $62,358 for families with a native householder and
    $49,785 for families with a foreign-born householder.

Finally, we sure to look through Asian-Nation’s list of best documentaries about immigration, arranged by category:

June 16, 2015

Written by C.N.

Links, Jobs, & Announcements #79

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.

Call for Submissions: Intersectionality and Public Policy

© Corbis

Call for chapters for an edited volume on Intersectionality and Public Policy
Olena Hankivsky (Simon Fraser University), and Julia Jordan-Zachery (Providence College)

Intersectionality is concerned with simultaneous intersections between aspects of social difference and identity (e.g., race, gender, class) and forms of systematic oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, classism) at macro and micro levels and their varied impacts. Central theoretical tenets of intersectionality are: human lives cannot be reduced to single characteristics; human experiences cannot be accurately understood by prioritizing any one factor or constellation of factors; social categories such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability are socially constructed and dynamic; social locations are inseparable and shaped by interacting and mutually constituting social processes and power structures that are influenced by time and place.

Grounded in black feminist scholarship and activism (e.g., Collins, 1990; Combahee River Collective, 1977; hooks, 1984) and formally coined in 1989, by black legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, intersectionality has been used across a significant number of disciplines. Diverse scholars have drawn on intersectionality to challenge inequities and promote social justice, as have government policy actors, human rights activists and community organizers. Indeed, while it is easier to simplify research, policy analysis and practice by labeling people into single or separate (e.g., female, male), rather than multiple and interlocking categories (e.g., poor, female immigrant of colour), it is increasingly apparent that this way of utilizing one category is limited in its ability to accurately represent the complexity of social life (Hankivsky et al., 2012). Against this backdrop, intersectionality is now recognized as a significant research and policy paradigm for bringing about necessary shifts in how social issues and related inequities are understood and addressed.

Simultaneously, an ongoing challenge is how to operationalize intersectionality, especially in relation to policy analysis. Until very recently, strong claims were made that effective methodologies do not exist. The situation is, however, rapidly changing. Scholars are advancing conceptual clarity, precision and guidance for intersectionality applications, in both research and policy. Nevertheless, advancements in the context of public policy are in nascent stages (e.g. Lombardo, Meier and Verloo 2009; Manuel 2006; Parken and Young 2010; Hancock 2011; Hankivsky and Cormier 2011; Hankivsky, 2012; Wilson 2013; Jordan-Zachery and Wilson 2014) and there is a pressing need for knowledge development and exchange in relation to empirical work that demonstrates how intersectionality improves public policy.

The goal of our edited collection is bring together international scholars to consider the state of the art of intersectionality in the context of policy research and analysis. Special consideration will be given to submissions from developing and transitional country contexts. We are looking for submissions that reflect on key challenges, possibilities and critiques of intersectionality-informed approaches across a variety of policy sectors, including but not limited to health, education, social policy, the environment, and the economy.

200 word abstracts of your proposed chapter submission are due August 1 2015. Please send your abstracts to BOTH Olena Hankivsky, and Julia Jordan-Zachery All invited authors will be notified by August 31, 2015 and completed chapters will be due by December 1, 2015.

Call for Papers, Graduate Students: Intergenerational Collaborations

Amerasia Journal, Special Issue Call for Papers
Intergenerational Collaborations: Graduate Student Scholarship in Asian American Studies

Guest Editors:
Professor Yến Lê Espiritu (University of California, San Diego) and Professor Cathy J. Schlund-­‐Vials (University of Connecticut)

Publication Date:
Summer/Fall 2016

Due Date:
Paper submissions (6,000 – 7,000 words, inclusive of endnotes) due September 1, 2015

Since finding a permanent publishing home at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center Press in 1971, Amerasia Journal has served as a scholarly hub for Asian American Studies. Slated for publication in Summer/Fall 2016, marking the journal’s forty -­‐ fifth anniversary, this special issue of Amerasia Journal brings together graduate student scholarship and faculty mentorship — two foundational components of the field of Asian American Studies. The issue is innovative in two ways: it is devoted exclusively to graduate student work, and it pairs graduate student authors with senior scholars who will provide guidance during the revision process.

The guest editors will be responsible for selecting the papers to be sent out for review, and for connecting graduate student authors with appropriate senior scholars in the field. Such “intergenerational” collaborations represent an Amerasia “first,” and the editors are guided by the desire to increase both access for and representation of graduate students in the field’s leading interdisciplinary journal.

As a key frame, the editors in part return to the journal’s mission statement, which reflects the founding, revisionary tenets of a field born out of civil rights movements and international liberation struggles. The open nature of this call for submissions — which takes seriously the diversity of Asian American Studies scholarship— echoes the innovative, multidisciplinary work that has been a hallmark of Amerasia Journal. Understanding that Asian American Studies has grown considerably over the past four decades, the editors ask possible contributors to situate their work within and beyond the context of this originating mission and multifaceted vision.

Submission Guidelines and Review Process:

The guest editors, in consultation with the Amerasia Journal editors, reviewers, and potential mentors, will make the decisions on which submissions will be included in the special issue. The review process is as follows:

  • Initial review of submitted papers by guest editors and Amerasia Journal editorial staff
  • Papers approved by editors will undergo blind peer review
  • Accepted projects will be assigned an appropriate mentor, who will work with the writer to develop and revise the submission; this process should begin and go through the last few months of 2015
  • Revision of accepted papers and final submission for production

Please send correspondence and papers regarding the special issue to the following addresses. All correspondence should refer to “Amerasia Journal Intergenerational Collaborations” in the subject line.

Professor Yến Lê Espiritu:
Professor Cathy J. Schlund-­‐Vials: cathy.schlund-­
Arnold Pan, Associate Editor, Amerasia Journal:

Call for Papers: Cross-Racial and Cross-Ethnic Personal and Group Relationships

A special issue of Societies
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 September 2015

Special Issue Editors:
Dr. Silvia Dominguez
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Dr. Cid Martinez
Department of Sociology, Sacramento Sate University, Sacramento, CA 95819-6005, USA
Phone: +916 278 6694

In the face of an increasingly complex society, people seek out and form relations with those whom they feel safe and comfortable and perceive to be similar. As a result, racial and ethnic groups form their own distinct social networks that are separated and isolated from others, limiting information and awareness and the ability to develop consensus to address community problems and promote mobility. Homogenous networks also limit the ability of affluent groups to appreciate and address the social barriers of less fortunate groups. They are thus more likely to reinforce negative views of minorities, and the poor. Frequently, inter-racial/ethnic division is the norm rather than the exception.

In fact, very few people have access and/or opportunity to develop cross-racial, or ethnic relationships due to the long lasting high levels of racial and ethnic segregation. Nevertheless, we know that Asians and Latin Americans have high rates of intermarriage, which signifies the emergence of networks that cross ethnicity and or racial lines. This special issue provides a window into the social mechanisms that foster cross ethnic and cross-racial and ethnic networks. What makes people develop heterogeneous networks across race and ethnicity? What do people gain from these heterogeneous networks?


Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Call for Submissions: Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies

2016 Calls for Papers: Gateways, Ports and Portals: Re-imagining Points of Departure for Asian American Studies
2016 Association for Asian American Studies Conference
April 27-30, 2016, Miami, Florida

Submissions due by: October 16th, 2015

Chris Lee (University of British Columbia) and Crystal Parikh (New York University)

Inspired by the city of Miami’s nickname –- “the Gateway to Latin America’ -– the 2016 conference asks participants to consider how forms of movement, transit, and exchange have shaped Asian America. If Asian American Studies has been frequently conceived as an intellectual, institutional, and political point of arrival, how would identifying alternative points of departure reconfigure our conceptions of the field? How might relocating origins and destinations not only change our notions of what the field is, and what it might become, but also the “gateways, ports, and portals” that enable our research, teaching, and activism?

Florida is an especially apt site to consider overlapping encounters between empires and other forces of modernity. Its intersecting histories of indigeneity, slavery, labor migrations, and refugee resettlements call for comparative approaches that place Asian American Studies in different continental, hemispheric, and, even planetary configurations. The state has been a key site in overlapping circuits of workers, intellectuals, artists, social movements and capitalist systems, reflecting its close connections to the Atlantic and Caribbean worlds.

In turn, the changing environmental conditions along Florida’s coastlines and the Everglades prompt us to look to ecocritical approaches that interrogate “the human” as the primary subject and scale of ethnic studies. As one of the hardest hit housing markets on the U.S. eastern seaboard during the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, the conference location asks us to consider how contemporary forces of finance and speculative capital urgently call for critical, institutional, policy, and activist analyses and responses that question our conceptions of vulnerability, risk, crisis, and recovery.

As a key electoral swing state, Florida further prompts an examination of Asian Americans’ role in political contests, coalitions, and consensus-building. While the proportion of its population that identifies as Asian American is relatively small, Miami is a metropolis with remarkable racial diversity. This might inspire us to consider how comparative perspectives can inform and challenge the research and teaching agendas of Asian American Studies.

These questions call for intellectual conversations across the humanities, social, and physical sciences, as well as professional fields such as public policy, law, public health, and education.

Our 2016 conference theme thus invites participants to reflect on how disciplinary gatekeeping and entryways inform, but also restrict, the ways in which we undertake Asian American Studies. What innovative approaches, such as comparative, multilingual and/or interdisciplinary frameworks, has Asian American Studies remitted not only to traditional academic disciplines, but fields such as American, postcolonial, and diaspora studies among others?

How does the growth of Asian American Studies outside the borders of the United States demand a deeper interrogation of the often unacknowledged (US) nationalist biases of the field? We accordingly invite participants from all disciplines to submit proposals that engage seriously with questions and productive possibilities of collaboration and conflict, as we shuttle across the imagined spaces of Asian America.

We welcome scholarship, cultural work, as well as political activist submissions for the 2016 AAAS conference. Proposals for mentorship or professionalization round tables, panels, or workshops are also welcome. All submissions and proposals are due Friday, October 16, 2015. Please note: Participants may only appear in the program twice and only in different roles.

Program Questions? For specific questions regarding type of sessions, submission guidelines, or other programmatic issues, please contact the Program Committee Co-Chairs: Chris Lee ( and Crystal Parikh (

May 26, 2015

Written by C.N.

New Books: Educational Success and the Model Minority Image

As a follow up to my recent post titled “The Affirmative Action Debate Among Asian Americans,” these recently-published books provide some more details and sociological context regarding Asian American academic and socioeconomic success, as well as how these achievements affect their position in the larger U.S. racial landscape.

The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, by Ellen D. Wu (Princeton University Press)

'The Color of Success' by Ellen D. Wu

The Color of Success tells of the astonishing transformation of Asians in the United States from the “yellow peril” to “model minorities” — peoples distinct from the white majority but lauded as well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, and exemplars of traditional family values — in the middle decades of the twentieth century. As Ellen Wu shows, liberals argued for the acceptance of these immigrant communities into the national fold, charging that the failure of America to live in accordance with its democratic ideals endangered the country’s aspirations to world leadership.

Weaving together myriad perspectives, Wu provides an unprecedented view of racial reform and the contradictions of national belonging in the civil rights era. She highlights the contests for power and authority within Japanese and Chinese America alongside the designs of those external to these populations, including government officials, social scientists, journalists, and others. And she demonstrates that the invention of the model minority took place in multiple arenas, such as battles over zoot suiters leaving wartime internment camps, the juvenile delinquency panic of the 1950s, Hawaii statehood, and the African American freedom movement. Together, these illuminate the impact of foreign relations on the domestic racial order and how the nation accepted Asians as legitimate citizens while continuing to perceive them as indelible outsiders.

By charting the emergence of the model minority stereotype, The Color of Success reveals that this far-reaching, politically charged process continues to have profound implications for how Americans understand race, opportunity, and nationhood.

Redefining Race: Asian American Panethnicity and Shifting Ethnic Boundaries, by Dina Okamoto (Russell Sage Foundation)

'Redefining Race' by Dina Okamoto

In 2012, the Pew Research Center issued a report that named Asian Americans as the “highest-income, best-educated, and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.” Despite this optimistic conclusion, over thirty Asian American advocacy groups challenged the findings, noting that the term “Asian American” is complicated. It includes a wide range of ethnicities, national origins, and languages, and encompasses groups that differ greatly in their economic and social status. In Redefining Race, sociologist Dina G. Okamoto traces the complex evolution of “Asian American” as a panethnic label and identity, emphasizing how it is a deliberate social achievement negotiated by group members, rather than an organic and inevitable process.

Drawing on original research and a series of interviews, Okamoto investigates how different Asian ethnic groups created this collective identity in the wake of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Okamoto documents the social forces that encouraged the development of this panethnic identity. The racial segregation of Asians in similar occupations and industries, for example, produced a shared experience of racial discrimination, which led Asians of different national origins to develop shared interests and identities. . . . According to Okamoto, ethnic organizations provided the foundation necessary to build solidarity within different Asian-origin communities. Leaders and community members who created inclusive narratives and advocated policies that benefited groups beyond their own moved their discrete ethnic organizations toward a panethnic model. . . . As Okamoto shows, the process of building ties between ethnic communities while also recognizing ethnic diversity is the hallmark of panethnicity.

Redefining Race is a groundbreaking analysis of the processes through which group boundaries are drawn and contested. In mapping the genesis of a panethnic Asian American identity, Okamoto illustrates the ways in which concepts of race continue to shape how ethnic and immigrant groups view themselves and organize for representation in the public arena.

Servitors of Empire: Studies in the Dark Side of Asian America, by Darrell Y. Hamamoto (NYU Press)

'Servitors of Empire' by Darrell Y. Hamamoto

Forcing a fundamental rethinking of the Asian American elite, many of whom have attained top positions in business, government, academia, sciences, and the arts, this book will be certain to generate a good deal of controversy and honest discussion regarding the role Asian Americans will play in the new century as China and India loom ever larger in the world economic system. Not since the large-scale infusion of scientists and engineers fleeing Nazi Germany has there been such a mass importation of intellectual labor from U.S. client states in Asia.

One of the specialized tasks assigned to this group is to build the technetronic infrastructure for the new world order command and control system. Servitors of Empire is not intended to fan the flames of suspicion and paranoia aimed at Asian Americans, but serves to illuminate the way in which highly trained knowledge workers are being employed to bring sovereign nations such as the United States under centralized rule made possible through advances in bioscience, IT, engineering, and global finance.

The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority, by Madeline Y. Hsu (Princeton University Press)

'The Good Immigrants' by Madeline Y. Hsu

Conventionally, U.S. immigration history has been understood through the lens of restriction and those who have been barred from getting in. In contrast, The Good Immigrants considers immigration from the perspective of Chinese elites—intellectuals, businessmen, and students—who gained entrance because of immigration exemptions. Exploring a century of Chinese migrations, Madeline Hsu looks at how the model minority characteristics of many Asian Americans resulted from US policies that screened for those with the highest credentials in the most employable fields, enhancing American economic competitiveness.

The earliest US immigration restrictions targeted Chinese people but exempted students as well as individuals who might extend America’s influence in China. Western-educated Chinese such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek became symbols of the US impact on China, even as they patriotically advocated for China’s modernization. World War II and the rise of communism transformed Chinese students abroad into refugees, and the Cold War magnified the importance of their talent and training. As a result, Congress legislated piecemeal legal measures to enable Chinese of good standing with professional skills to become citizens. Pressures mounted to reform American discriminatory immigration laws, culminating with the 1965 Immigration Act.

Filled with narratives featuring such renowned Chinese immigrants as I.M. Pei, The Good Immigrants examines the shifts in immigration laws and perceptions of cultural traits that enabled Asians to remain in the United States as exemplary, productive Americans.

Citizens of Asian America: Democracy and Race during the Cold War, by Cindy I-Fen Cheng (NYU Press)

'Citizens of Asian America' by Cindy I-Fen Cheng

During the Cold War, Soviet propaganda highlighted U.S. racism in order to undermine the credibility of U.S. democracy. In response, incorporating racial and ethnic minorities in order to affirm that America worked to ensure the rights of all and was superior to communist countries became a national imperative. In Citizens of Asian America, Cindy I-Fen Cheng explores how Asian Americans figured in this effort to shape the credibility of American democracy, even while the perceived “foreignness” of Asian Americans cast them as likely alien subversives whose activities needed monitoring following the communist revolution in China and the outbreak of the Korean War.

While histories of international politics and U.S. race relations during the Cold War have largely overlooked the significance of Asian Americans, Cheng challenges the black-white focus of the existing historiography. She highlights how Asian Americans made use of the government’s desire to be leader of the “free world” by advocating for civil rights reforms, such as housing integration, increased professional opportunities, and freedom from political persecution. Further, Cheng examines the liberalization of immigration policies, which worked not only to increase the civil rights of Asian Americans but also to improve the nation’s ties with Asian countries, providing an opportunity for the U.S. government to broadcast, on a global scale, the freedom and opportunity that American society could offer.

May 20, 2015

Written by C.N.

The Affirmative Action Debate Among Asian Americans

You may have heard that a coalition of about 60 Asian American organizations recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that Harvard University and other Ivy League schools systematically discriminate against Asian American applicants using affirmative action. This complaint follows two similar lawsuits filed in federal court last November that allege the same charges of discrimination against Asian Americans using affirmative action.

Specifically, the complaints allege that Harvard and other universities around the country that use affirmative action policies ultimately discriminate against Asian American applicants by, among other things, imposing a quota that artificially limits the total number of Asian Americans admitted, and by forcing Asian American applicants to achieve higher GPAs and SAT or ACT scores in order to have an equal chance of admission compared to non-Asian applicants.

© Radius Images/Corbis

Before I continue, I want to reiterate that I strongly support affirmative action. Rather than detailing the multiple reasons why affirmative action ultimately benefits the Asian American community, I refer you to the recent post on that contains a concise summary of the arguments in favor of affirmative action, along with a list of more than 135 Asian American organizations that support affirmative action. Further, you can download copies of two studies by academics that provide even more detailed arguments about affirmative action and specifically, how “negative action,” rather than affirmative action, explains the inequalities Asian Americans face in college admissions:

  • Chin, Gabriel, Sumi Cho, Jerry Kang, and Frank Wu. 2003. “Beyond Self-Interest: Asian Pacific Americans Toward a Community of Justice.” (PDF)
  • Kidder, William C. 2006. “Negative Action Versus Affirmative Action: Asian Pacific Americans Are Still Caught in the Middle.” (PDF)

These articles also get into how claims of discrimination play into the model minority image of Asian Americans, how affirmative action has been used repeatedly as a ‘wedge’ issue to divide communities of color by conservative actors, and to impart a superficial “honorary White” status onto Asian Americans and to use our community as an example that African Americans, Latino Americans, and Native American Indians should follow. So instead of elaborating on these aspects in detail, the purpose of this post is to provide an historical and sociological context for us to understand why some Asian Americans oppose affirmative action.

As I have written on previously, affirmative action is one of, if not the most divisive issue within the Asian American community (up there with interracial dating and marriage). As such, I am not surprised that many Asian Americans are passionately opposed to affirmative action. I also understand why they are so opposed.

The first factor that helps us to understand why many Asian Americans are against affirmative action is that, more than likely, those Asian Americans who oppose affirmative action tend to be recent immigrants. This is an important distinction because, as recent immigrants, they are less likely to be familiar with the U.S.’s unfortunate history and ongoing legacy of systematic inequality and discrimination against groups of color, particularly African Americans.

Instead, these recent immigrants are more likely to see the U.S. in very idealized ways, specifically as the “Land of Opportunity” where, if they just work hard enough and achieve the highest test scores and GPAs, they will be able to achieve “The American Dream” of economic, if not social, success. In other words, many recent Asian American immigrants see the U.S. as a pure meritocracy, where those with the highest ‘objective’ qualifications should reap the biggest rewards.

Unfortunately, this view of the U.S. as a pure meritocracy is rather simplistic, naive, and fails to consider the multitude of institutional mechanisms that historically, have given members of certain groups a systematic advantage over others, and how such advantages (and disadvantages) have accumulated and become reinforced year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation. As many supporters of affirmative action would rightly point out, even if a student is extraordinarily intelligent, motivated, and hard-working, s/he may not have access to certain economic resources and educational opportunities to maximize their talents and skills to succeed.

Based on this idealized, simplistic, and meritocratic view of U.S. society, these recent Asian American immigrants who oppose affirmative action are likely to think that if their child has higher SAT or ACT scores and/or a higher GPA than other applicants, then their child should be admitted, end of discussion. To them, any other factor besides ‘objective’ measures such as test scores and GPA are irrelevant. They would scoff at suggestions that factors such as applicant’s life experiences, increasing demographic diversity in the student population, or racial identity can be considered (even though the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently concluded that it is constitutional to consider all such factors in college admissions).

Many of these recent Asian American immigrants who oppose affirmative action also come from professional or upper-income backgrounds. This tends to reinforce and perpetuate their meritocratic mentality of how the world, and U.S. society in particular, should work. In other words, they are likely to think, “If I worked hard and became successful, then why can’t everybody else can do the same.” Also perhaps because these Asian immigrants tend to come from a racially homogenous country, they are not likely to be aware of, or even care about, the history of systematic racism against African Americans, Latino Americans, Native American Indians, and other Asian Americans (such as those from refugee backgrounds in Southeast Asia from and therefore do not have the same levels of human capital) here in the U.S., and how the legacy of racism still hurts the chances of these groups of color even today.

If nothing else, this debate over affirmative action within the Asian American community should illustrate once and for all that Asian Americans are not a monolithic category and that instead, there are numerous differences across ethnicities, human capital and social class, generation, and political ideologies. With this mind, I completely understand why some Asian Americans are opposed to affirmative action. I just think that their arguments are misguided, too narrowly-focused, and completely miss the larger sociological and historical context that continues to frame the contentious dynamics of race and ethnicity in U.S. society today.

May 18, 2015

Written by C.N.

Seeking Help to Identify Amerasian

I recently received the following email from a family that is seeking help to identify an Amerasian from Viet Nam. Feel free to circulate among your friends and networks and to contact them directly (email address is at the end of the post) if you can provide any information or assistance.

Good Afternoon Professor Le,

My purpose in contacting you is due to my direct involvement in the support of my husband, who is a Vietnam War veteran, who has recently embarked upon a search to learn if he had fathered a child during his time in Vietnam. Larry Gentz was stationed in Vietnam from December 1969 through December 1970.

He and I are in contact with a number of the Amerasian communities on Facebook, who have been very gracious and supportive in allowing us to post Larry’s military service time and locations, along with his photos upon their Facebook pages. In addition, Larry recently completed his DNA test and we are awaiting those results. It is my desire that we are able to connect with all of the appropriate Amerasian support groups in an effort to broaden our chances of success in learning the answer to his question regarding did he leave a child or children in Vietnam.

Shortly after we embarked upon our search, I came upon a photo taken in March of 1988 of a group of Amerasian youth (below), which had been taken at Dai Lo Park in Saigon. One of the youth in the photo bears a striking resemblance to my husband. In talking with my husband of the possibility that the young man (who would now be in his mid-forties) could possibly be his son, Larry identified that he had been stationed 15 miles from where the young man was then living when his photo was taken. I learned that the park became know as Amerasian Park due to the Amerasians coming to the park and living there in order to be in close proximity to the American Consulate Office.

I realize that I’ve given you a ton of information, assuming on my part that you would know where to direct me in my continued search of trying to locate a man based solely upon a picture taken 27 years ago. I’m posting the photo of the young man, who is identified by the asterisk on his shirt, along with a photo of my husband Larry taken in 1970 in Vietnam, which shows the strong resemblance between the two. This photo has been used extensively in various articles regarding the plight of the children who were left behind following the departure of their military personnel fathers.

The photographer of the photo, Robert Mulder, has given me permission to use his photo in the search for this young man. As Mr. Mulder shared with me, when he took the photo of the youth, they were anxious to have their picture taken in the hope that their fathers would see them, and then search for them. In the case of my husband’s search, this has happened in seeing the resemblance of the one young man to my husband.

Possible son of Larry Gentz on far left © Robert Mulder
Possible son at left, Larry Gentx on right © Robert Mulder

Catie Gentz
Wife of Larry Gentz, a Vietnam War veteran
Conifer, CO

April 30, 2015

Written by C.N.

40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon: Reflections from a Former Refugee

Today, April 30, 2015, is the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the day when the North Vietnamese officially overthrew the South Vietnamese government and ended the Viet Nam War. As summarized in more detail in my article “A Modern Day Exodus,” most immediately, the Fall of Saigon led to a series of events that resulted in the hurried departure of over 125,000 Vietnamese out of the country to be eventually resettled into western nations such as the U.S. For a detailed historical summary of the Fall of Saigon, I highly recommend the documentary being shown this week on PBS stations all across the U.S., the Last Days in Viet Nam.

My family was among those who left Viet Nam in this first wave of refugees in the days immediately after the Fall of Saigon. I would like to share a few memories and reflections on this occasion and relate it my life in the U.S. now, and what my life likely would have been if I had stayed in Viet Nam.

The Journey Out

I was only five years old around this time. People frequently ask me what it was like back then and back there, and I always tell them the same thing — I had no idea a war was going on. The few memories that I have of that time were all very happy and normal ones — I remember going to the zoo with my parents, traveling into the countryside to take pictures with my dad and his friends on the weekends, and riding around with my dad on his motorcycle (to the right is a portrait of me, my little sister, mom, and dad from 1973). Fortunately or unfortunately, I have no memories of our departure out of the country, so what I am about to describe is what my parents have told me through the years about our exit from Viet Nam.

Me, my little sister, mom, and dad from 1973

Both of my parents had worked for the South Vietnamese military, and in close conjunction with the U.S. military up until the Fall of Saigon. After finishing his education as a Structural Engineer, my father enlisted in the South Vietnamese Army Corps of Engineers and several of his first projects involved working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After five years, his tour of service was complete and he left the army and eventually opened his own engineering firm in Saigon. My mother started working for the South Vietnamese government and U.S. military as an office clerk (her brother Trang, also an engineer, worked with my father and eventually introduced them to each other).

After a few years, she eventually was promoted to writing radio propaganda programs (the “Voice of Freedom” program, eventually renamed the “Voice of Mother Viet Nam”) for South Viet Nam that were broadcast throughout the country. She was still working at this job right up to the Fall of Saigon. In these capacities, both of my parents would have been obvious targets for retaliation and punishment by the North Vietnamese had they stayed in the country. Fortunately, her South Vietnamese and U.S. employers arranged for our family’s exit out of the country by first evacuating us to the island of Phu Quoc, located off the southwestern coast of Viet Nam and about 100 miles west of Saigon, a week before the Fall of Saigon.

The North Vietnamese forces officially toppled the South Vietnamese government and took over the country on April 30, 1975. They issued a public announcement that said all U.S. personnel and their South Vietnamese allies had 24 hours to leave the country. After this announcement, panic and chaos ensued as our family and the hundreds of other Vietnamese families on Phu Quoc with us tried to arrange passage off the island and onto any U.S. vessel that would take us out of the country. Later that night, a cargo ship was dispatched to pick us and all the other evacuees up from Phu Quoc island. But we needed a way to reach that cargo ship located in the Gulf of Thailand. Eventually, we and other evacuees were able to board a small fishing boat and set off toward the cargo ship.

My uncle Trang’s family (my mother’s brother, who introduced my mom and dad to each other) were also with us on Phu Quoc, since he had worked for the South Vietnamese government as well. The plan was for all of us to stay together and to leave the country together. However, in the confusion of the moment, my uncle decided that he needed to try to secure some food for everyone before we boarded the cargo ship, so he kept his most of his family behind while he got a loaf of bread from one of the local villagers. Unfortunately, after he returned to the beach, all of the fishing boats had left. He and his family were now stuck and left behind on Phu Quoc.

My grandmother (my mom’s mother) did leave with my family on one of the fishing boats. Once our fishing boat neared the cargo ship, there was a “traffic jam” of dozens of other fishing boats and hundreds of other Vietnamese who were also trying to board the ship. The only way to get closer to the cargo ship was to jump from boat to boat. In the process of doing so (also remembering that this was in the middle of the night), our family got separated from our grandmother. Our grandmother was not physically mobile enough to jump from boat to boat, especially after the boats began drifting away from each other. Unfortunately, she was also left behind after everyone left and no one was around to help her.

Although my family had successfully boarded the cargo ship and were now on our way to the Philippines to eventually be resettled in the U.S., both of my parents were in shock and traumatized over losing first, their homeland, the country of their ancestors. Second, they (especially my mother) were traumatized that many of our loved ones, including her mother, brother, and brother’s family, did not make it out of the country and were left behind and in my brother’s case, would ultimately be singled out for punishment and sent to one of the notorious “reeducation” camps.

Connecting the Past and the Present

It would be more than 20 before my parents were able to return to Viet Nam and to see their relatives again. Unfortunately my mom’s mother had passed away in the meantime and my mom was never able to see her again. Nonetheless, in the intervening years, we did everything we could to send money to my uncle’s family, support them to achieve a comfortable, middle class standard of living, and sponsor them to immigrate to the U.S. One of my dad’s brothers received a visa and immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago. But for various reasons, no one in my uncle’s family has been able to immigrate to the U.S.

In our case, because both of my parents were relatively well-educated and proficient in English, they were able to get relatively good jobs soon after we were resettled in southern California. After just two and a half years, we were able to save and borrow enough money to buy a house in the suburbs and take a big step toward achieving the American dream. As I reflect on the past 40 years, I am very thankful to have gotten out of Viet Nam, to become an American, and to have access to the kinds of social and economic opportunities that billions of people around the world can only dream about.

One of those billions is my cousin Bao, the only son of my uncle Trang (the one who made the fateful decision to get a loaf of bread at Phu Quoc). He and I were born only six months apart and growing up in Viet Nam, we were basically brothers. Bao is now married with three young children. With his parents, he has been able to achieve a comfortable middle class lifestyle. He’s even been able to buy two cars in recent years. Nonetheless, he has been, and continues to be, desperate to leave Viet Nam in order to give his children a chance at a better life.

As I compare my life with his on this 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, I can’t help but think that I easily could have been in his place. I easily could have been the one left behind while he was successful in boarding the ship to leave the country. I easily could have been the one to have suffered and been punished by the North Vietnamese. I easily could have been the one thinking that I and my family have no future as long as we stay in Viet Nam. I know that there are plenty of injustices and inequalities that I and others like me face in the U.S., but I cannot escape the fact that, compared to my cousin Bao, I am a very fortunate person to be where I am.

My cousin Bao recently told me that he is making one last ditch effort to leave Viet Nam by paying a labor recruiter to get him a job in the U.S. doing manual labor at a meat processing plant somewhere in the Midwest. If this employer is able to obtain a Labor Certificate for him (in which the employer can document that there are very few American workers available and willing to work in this job), supposedly Bao would be able to take his entire family to the U.S. while he works for at least one year at this meat processing plant and in the meantime, apply for permanent residency (i.e., a “green card”) for him and family to ultimately stay in the U.S. permanently. If everything goes according to plan, Bao will have to pay the labor recruiter around $40,000 by the end of this whole process.

Personally, I am a little skeptical at the legitimacy of this arrangement and have my suspicions that it may be a scam. I recently spoke to an immigration attorney who said that while the fees that this labor recruiter is charging are very high, this labor certification process is legitimate and if my cousin Bao is able to obtain such a certification, it could be a successful method for him and his family to immigrate to the U.S. But there are a lot of “ifs” along the way and many points within this plan where everything could fall apart and Bao would have basically no recourse whatsoever.

Nonetheless, I certainly cannot fault Bao for trying everything he can to leave Viet Nam. He too is aware of the multitude of barriers that he and his family would face if and when they come to the U.S. But his desire to leave Viet Nam is so strong that he is willing to endure all of these challenges so that his children can have a chance at a better life.

So on this anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and as I reflect on my life in the intervening years, I am reminded of the events and emotions that took place 40 years ago — the desperation and resilience of so many Vietnamese to leave for a better life for themselves and their families — and I see that these emotions and desires are still as strong today as they were back then. I also see that life can change in a split second and can lead to such dramatically different outcomes.

Within all of this, I am also very happy for being both Vietnamese and being able to draw on this history and community of strength and resilience, and to also be American and being in a nation that, despite its ample problems and shortcomings, is still the destination of choice for billions of people all around the world.

January 12, 2015

Written by C.N.

New Book: Filipino American DJs in the Bay Area

My friend and colleague Oliver Wang recently completed a book titled Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area Duke University Press) and it’s based on his many years of ethnographic research on the mobile DJ scene in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s and in particular, the leading role played by Filipino Americans in shaping, defining, and leading that cultural and music scene. The book’s description:

Armed with speakers, turntables, light systems, and records, Filipino American mobile DJ crews, such as Ultimate Creations, Spintronix, and Images, Inc., rocked dance floors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. In Legions of Boom noted music and pop culture writer and scholar Oliver Wang chronicles this remarkable scene that eventually became the cradle for turntablism. These crews, which were instrumental in helping to create and unify the Bay Area’s Filipino American community, gave young men opportunities to assert their masculinity and gain social status.

While crews regularly spun records for school dances, weddings, birthdays, or garage parties, the scene’s centerpieces were showcases — or multi-crew performances — which drew crowds of hundreds, or even thousands. By the mid-1990s the scene was in decline, as single DJs became popular, recruitment to crews fell off, and aspiring scratch DJs branched off into their own scene. As the training ground for a generation of DJs, including DJ Q-Bert, Shortkut and Mix Master Mike, the mobile scene left an indelible mark on its community that eventually grew to have a global impact.

Legions of Boom by Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, Long Beach and his research interests center on pop music, culture, and politics. He has also written on Asian Americans and hip-hop, retro soul music, and the critical geography of the Kogi BBQ truck, among other essays. He is the editor of Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide and has written for NPR, Vibe, Wax Poetics, the Los Angeles Times, the Oakland Tribune, and the Village Voice, amongst others.

I asked Oliver the following questions about his work and his new book (I added some links to certain words and terms in his answers to provide readers with more context and information):

  • How did you first become interested in this particular scene?

    I first started reading about the Bay Area’s Filipino American (FA) scratch DJs in local alternative weeklies in the early ’90s. As I was a budding DJ myself, I was intrigued at how all these world class Asian American DJs had emerged out of the Bay. A few years later, as a music journalist, I began interviewing scratch DJs like Q-Bert and Shortkut and discovered that the common link they all had was that their careers all began in the 1980s as a part of mobile DJ crews. I had never heard about that scene and my journalistic and scholarly instincts lit up. At the very least, I felt like there was a good story to be told here.

  • In what ways are the Filipino American DJs that you focus on unique? How do they assert their own identity onto the DJ scene?

    The unique quality of the mobile scene was that it was predominantly Filipino American and it had the right conditions in place for that to be self-sustaining for over a decade. There were other Bay Area mobile scenes, with other ethnic groups, but apparently, none had the same kind of size, longevity, or intensity and as I argue in the book, that’s because the Filipino American community was especially well-organized to help circulate the necessary capital to support a long-term scene of this nature. It’s not because FA DJs were more gifted or somehow more culturally inclined towards DJing; I resist any impulse to culturally pathologize this community. It’s because they have a remarkable social network of family, student/church groups, and community organizations that helped to circulate gigs (and therefore money) amongst the crews.

    As for how they asserted their identity, what’s notable is how little my respondents thought their ethnicity had anything to do with the DJ scene. If there were identities being asserted, it had far more to do with what school or neighborhood they were from – as well as their identity as a crew – and on a less self-aware level, their identity as young men. But expressing their “Filipino-ness” wasn’t part of their performance. I think that stands in stark contrast with the generation of hip-hop-influenced DJs that came after them, for whom ethnic identity was far more at the forefront.

  • The book’s description mentioned that these Filipino Americans used their DJing as opportunities to assert their masculinity. Can you elaborate on this a little bit? How did their idea of being masculine compare to say, conventional notions of White or Black male masculinity?

    As I suggested, those assertions of masculinity weren’t necessarily self-aware nor different from what you’d find amongst other young men. The crew structure is very similar to that of other homosocial organizations you find amongst male youth: sports teams, youth gangs, fraternities, etc. Being part of a crew gives them a sense of belonging and purpose and they often spoke of it in gendered language, i.e. “a brotherhood” or the like.

  • There’s been some debate over the years about whether Filipino Americans consider themselves to be an integral part of the larger Asian American community, or whether they tend to identify more as Hispanic/Latino. Based on this project, how did these Filipino see themselves in relation to the larger Asian American community?

    This wasn’t a topic I landed upon with them but I will say that there was no uniform kind of ethnic self-awareness that my respondents expressed. Some of them were confused about their identity growing up but others had a much better sense of themselves as Filipino Americans. It really varied and depended on their family/life experiences. As to the pan-ethnic question, we never got into that but I do think to the extent that there were other scenes, like a Chinese American mobile scene, they did see their scene as being distinct from that as opposed to them all being in some greater “Asian American mobile scene.” The important thing to remember is that while their scene wasn’t exclusively Filipino, all the key parts of the social infrastructure that supported it linked back to Filipino family, religious and community networks. Being Filipino certainly wasn’t incidental even if it wasn’t being actively expressed/performed.

  • Lately, there’s been more attention paid to Asian Americans using alternative means to express themselves artistically, such as through YouTube and other forms of social media. Do you think Asian Americans on YouTube are content with asserting an alternative, independent cultural identity, or do you think they’re looking to use it as a springboard to get into mainstream media?

    I don’t think it’s an either/or, especially as these days, YouTube practically IS mainstream media (though differences still abound, see below).

    To me, what I find fascinating about the mobile DJ scene story is that they were inspired to form these crews — as teenagers — because they saw DJs in clubs and thought, “Why can’t we do this back at home?” It’s a simple but profoundly powerful idea to realize one’s own creative/expressive potential using the tools you have around you. In the 1980s, that meant cobbling together a sound system from family stereo systems, before you could invest in professional equipment.

    In the 1990s, in the import car scene, you saw middle class youth taking their personal transportation and transforming that into mobile canvases for self and collective expression. In our current age, it’s about using the tools built into digital devices, be they computers or smartphones. I think the vast majority of youth seek to make their voices heard, not necessarily in a self-conscious way to be either alternative or mainstream. It’s only later that people like us (scholars, journalists) try to parse their activities into these kinds of subcultural dichotomies but I don’t think, for example, mobile DJ crews were a subculture. I don’t think they saw themselves as one nor did they function as one (in the strict, Hebdigean definition of subculture).

  • Based on your academic work and personal observations, are there any emerging artistic or cultural trends within the Asian American community that we should keep an eye out for?

    There are at least two areas that I hope scholars will spend time exploring:

    1) Social media “stars” who’ve used non-traditional media platforms to produce and distribute their own content. While I do think the distance between mainstream vs. social media is fast collapsing, there is still a traditional media industry in place (i.e. record companies, television networks, movie studios, et. al.) and they still command much power and influence. But what we’ve seen is that Asian Americans have bypassed those institutions to find other ways of getting themselves “out there.” That, to me, is really profound especially compared to how limited things were for the mobile DJs who largely were invisible to anyone outside of their scene or region.

    2) Asian Americans involved in the contemporary food scene, whether as chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, etc. This is something I’ve begun to write more about myself and I think we’re only going to see more and more Asian Americans pursuing careers around food and more to the point: food culture.

    If I had to pick a third, I think K-pop is going to be a fascinating topic to study. Its popularity, of course, is transnational and transracial but to the extent that most Asian pop musics have never found solid footing in the American pop scene, I think K-pop might be the one to crossover and if so, I imagine that Asian American k-pop fans will be somewhere in that mix. Maybe.

    Broadly speaking, I just think Asian American cultural formations, performances and participation is STILL woefully marginal in Asian American Studies. For a variety of reasons, “we” produce a disproportionate amount of scholars who study literature and that’s all fine and good but I feel that Asian American Studies really lags behind other, similar disciplines in our exploration of popular culture as a site for critical examination and discussion. This was certainly the case when I started grad school nearly 20 years ago and it’s not like we’ve seen a sea change since then. I hold out hope that some future generation of scholars will be the ones to turn that particular tide.

August 11, 2014

Written by C.N.

Links, Jobs, & Announcements #78

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.

Adjunct Positions: Asian American Studies, CUNY Hunter

© Corbis

The Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College is currently seeking adjunct faculty for the fall 2014 semester, to teach the three courses listed below. We need to fill these courses ASAP, since the semester begins August 28. Please note that these courses are fully enrolled and scheduled, so days/times cannot be changed.

Candidates must have a graduate degree in a relevant field (M.A., M.F.A., PhD/ABD) and a stellar record of teaching at the undergraduate level. We are looking for faculty who are committed to public education and the critical teaching of Asian American Studies to a socioeconomically and racially diverse urban student population. The Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College offers a 12-credit minor and is a small but dynamic program, with extraordinarily dedicated faculty. For more information about the program, please visit our website at

Please submit CV, cover letter, and teaching statement via email to:

Jennifer Hayashida, Director
Asian American Studies Program

ASIAN 210.00
Asians in the US
M/TH 11:10 – 12:25

There are today nearly 1.2 million Asian American New Yorkers, making up approximately 14% of the city’s population. Asians in the U.S. provides a critical introduction to Asian American history and contemporary experience, frequently omitted or marginalized in mainstream narratives about the origins and ongoing formation of the U.S. With a focus on intersectional analysis and attention to constructions of race, class, gender, and sexuality, students in this course engage in active reading and discussion to become closely familiar with historic and contemporary issues in Asian American communities; the social construction of race in the U.S.; and Asian American political, economic, and cultural contributions to the larger fabric of U.S. culture. Key topics include, but are not limited to: Orientalism; the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act; Japanese American Internment; pan-Asian and cross-racial political activism; post-9/11 detention and deportation; Asian American cultural production; postcolonial theory; critical race studies; media representations; U.S. wars in Asia; and transnational adoption.
ASIAN 340.01
Asian Pacific American Media
M/TH 1:10 – 2:25

This course will explore and critically analyze representations of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs) in the media, including stereotypical images of APIA identity, culture, behavior, sexuality and history, as well as media that contests or subverts these dominant narratives. This course will examine how political, social, and cultural forces have affected Asian American participation in the media and how these forces have shaped APIA media representations. Through class readings and analyzing films and other media, we will utilize frameworks on immigration, nationalism and citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, capitalism, class, sexuality and transnationalism, all within the social construction of race in the United States both historically and currently.

ASIAN 390.18
Asian American Poetics
Wed 10:10 – 1:00

This course will provide a broad survey of contemporary poetry by Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs). This course will examine how assumptions and dominant narratives about APIA identity, culture, behavior, sexuality and history—and our own values and belief systems about what poetry is—affect both the reading and availability of APIA poetry. We will also read critical essays and other texts to contextualize readings of poetry and class discussion. This course strives to equip students with a framework to both read and relate to poetry as an artistic discipline as well as a framework with which to use poetry as a means to connect individual and collective expression within a broader social, political, migratory, historical, colonial and/or neoliberal context. Works explored will include both Asian American canonical poetry, experimental and other schools of poetry, and poetry that contests or subverts the dominant narratives. Students will also be given the opportunity to participate directly in the creative process by writing their own poetry and other creative work.

Call for Papers: Race and Contention in 21st Century U.S. Media Book Proposal

In the 21st century, colorblind ideology permeates all structures and institutions of society, including the institution of media. While representations of minorities continue to reflect contentious stereotypes and ideologies, these characters reflect the racial
order in which they were produced. To date, much has been written on the topic of minority representation in the media. However, there have been fewer critical works on the ways in which increased minority characters are created within contemporary media structures, and the ways in which these representations reflect a normative racial ideology.

In Race and Contention in 21st Century U.S. Media, we strive to address the ways in which minority characters have broken the historical limitations of representation in 21st century mainstream/popular media. Through the works presented in this anthology, we will acknowledge the power of dominant values and ideologies in non-normative racial/gender representations, and the types of characterizations these representations reproduce. We contend that these representations have direct consequences on contemporary racial ideologies and hierarchies.

We seek both theoretical and empirical submissions that address minority representations in a variety of post-2000 media – including film, television, music, news media, and online/new media. Please submit your completed chapter (5000-7000 words), OR a chapter proposal (500-750 words, including your research question, key literature, and conclusions) to the editors by August 30, 2014. Authors will be notified by October 2014 if their proposals have been accepted for the book prospectus. For more information and to submit proposals, contact Jason Smith ( and Bhoomi K. Thakore (

Position: Qualitative Methods/Citizenship, Syracuse

Application deadline: September 15

The Department of Sociology in the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position to begin Fall 2015. We seek a scholar with a strong background and interest in qualitative methods, and a research focus on the social problems of citizenship, including political, cultural, and legal structures of community. The department seeks candidates with teaching interests in political sociology, social movements, or ethnographic/ qualitative methods. Preference will be given to candidates who contribute to Maxwell School-wide priorities.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Sociology or a related discipline by the time of appointment and must show success in or a strong promise of scholarly achievement and productivity, as well as a commitment to graduate and undergraduate teaching. Faculty members have the opportunity to affiliate with one of the Maxwell School’s research institutes or a number of other interdisciplinary centers and We will begin reviewing applications on September 15 and continue until the position is For consideration, interested candidates must apply online at

Candidates must attach a letter of interest, vita, and one publication or writing sample. Three letters of recommendation are required. Other materials may be requested if needed.

Position: Executive Director, Massachusetts Asian American Commission

The Asian American Commission represents the interests of Asian Americans throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is dedicated to advocacy on behalf of Asian Americans throughout Massachusetts. The Commission’s goal is to recognize and highlight the vital contributions of Asian Americans to the social, cultural, economic, and political life of the Commonwealth; to identify and address the needs and challenges facing residents of Asian ancestry; and topromote the well-being of this dynamic and diverse community, thereby advancing the interests of all persons who call Massachusetts home.

The 21 Commissioners of the Asian American Commission, appointed by the constitutional state officers, makeup this governing body. The ED is a commissioner-appointed position. The ED reports to the Commissioners and is responsiblefor the Commission’s financial stability and achievement of its mission. Some of the ED’s activities include, but are not limited to:

Organizational responsibilities:

  • Develop and execute current and long-term organizational goals and objectives as well as policies and procedures
  • Cultivate open and active communications between the Commission and state offices
  • Promote state officer support of Commission initiatives, activities, and events
  • Encourage an active Commission where all members will participate fully
  • Ensure the Commissioners’ terms are kept current and lead the recruitment process of new Commissioners
  • Convene regular meetings and prepare agenda items
  • Review and update internal policies to maintain compliance with state laws
  • Work closely with the Executive Officers of the Commission
  • Manage and oversee fundraising efforts
  • Other administrative duties as necessary

Financial Responsibilities:

  • Manage fundraising goals and activities, including the annual Unity Dinner
  • Develop and maintain sound financial practices
  • Explore alternative funding and grants from government and nonprofit sources

Community Responsibilities:

  • Provide quality programming that promotes the Commission’s identity
  • Establish working relationships with community organizations
  • Respond to and manage incoming and outgoing communications and be an effective voice for the Commission

Applicants must have a college degree. A successful candidate should be articulate, energetic, and enthusiastic about being an active participant in the Massachusetts Asian American community. Strong project leadership and interpersonal skills are essential. 3-5 years of experience, or the equivalent, in the management of a community non-profit and/or for-profit organization, government agency, or business, is preferred. A graduate degree in business management or government is a plus. Good working knowledge of Boston-based, regional, and state Asian American community organizations is optimal.

Salary is $40K with benefits. Time commitment is 0.75 Full Time Equivalent. Send your resume (3-page limit) and cover letter (1-page limit) to with subject “Job Opportunity.”

Position: Sociology, U.C. Riverside

University of California, Riverside. The Department of Sociology invites applications for an Assistant Professor position in medical sociology and/or population health beginning July 1, 2015. We seek a scholar with an emphasis in disparities of health and/or health care linked to gender, race, class, ethnicity and/or immigrant status, as well as candidates who can add to existing strengths within the Department of Sociology, while also offering the potential for collaboration with UCR’s new School of Medicine. Competitive candidates will demonstrate a strong record of publication, a commitment to extramural funding, and teaching excellence.

UC Riverside ranks among the top 5 PhD granting institutions nation-wide in racial and ethnic diversity. Thus, competitive candidates will possess a strong commitment to pedagogical excellence in a diverse context at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Successful candidates will be qualified to teach quantitative or qualitative methods at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Supervision of graduate students, curricular development and performance of Departmental and University service are also expected.

A PhD in Sociology is preferred prior to the appointment start date. Applications received by October 1, 2014, will receive full consideration. The position will remain open until filled. To apply, submit a letter of application, research and teaching statement, three letters of recommendations, and up to three writing samples to Address inquiries to the search committee chair, Matthew C. Mahutga, Department of Sociology, University of California, Riverside.

Conference: Southeast Asian American Studies, U. Minnesota

The States of Southeast Asian American Studies
Southeast Asians in Diaspora Conference | October 2 & 3, 2014

The fourth triennial Southeast Asians in the Diaspora Conference will take place at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities on October 2-3, 2014. The conditions that “brought the field into being” have shifted in light of recent events and new scholarship across various fields and communities. Hosting this event in Minnesota is significant given the vibrant Southeast Asian population in the state.

Minnesota has experienced dramatic demographic shifts over the past few decades, becoming an immigration hub for people from Southeast Asia and elsewhere. This timely event will bring together scholars, artists, activists, and other members of Southeast Asian American communities to consider the past, present, and future of these communities.

Please visit our website to view schedule, speaker, and registration information. We encourage you to register by September 15, 2014. The program has not yet been finalized so please visit the site for updates and changes. For those traveling from out of town, you will find accommodations information here. We encourage you to book your rooms soon to ensure you receive the conference rate.

Please email us with any questions:

Position: Sociology, American University

Department of Sociology Assistant Professor Multiple Fields/Theory

The Department of Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences, at American University (Washington, D.C.), invites applications for a tenure line appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor to begin August 2015. The department seeks candidates with expertise in health, urban sociology, immigration and globalization or social inequality and with ability and interest to teach sociological theory. Responsibilities will include active scholarship in the area(s) of specialization and teaching two courses per semester, including theory and at least one graduate course each academic year. Preference will be given to candidates with the potential to contribute to the Department and University’s growing emphasis on externally funded research.

Please send application materials (curriculum vitae, letter describing research and teaching interests and experiences, statement of teaching philosophy, teaching evaluations, (p)reprints, and at least three letters of reference) to: with the subject line, “Faculty Search”. Electronic submissions are preferred; applications may also be mailed to: Search Committee Chair, Department of Sociology, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016-8072. Review of applications will begin by October 6, 2014 and will continue until the position is filled.

American University is an Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected Veteran status. Women and minority candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. American University offers employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation/preference and gender identity/expression.

Community Campaign: “Who Killed Koreatown?”

We are emailing you to let you know about the current redistricting issue in Los Angeles Koreatown. The Korean American Coalition is organizing a campaign called “Who Killed Koreatown?” to raise awareness of how the city ignored thousands of requests to keep Koreatown whole and drew district lines to influence future elections, cutting Koreatown into two. As a result, Koreatown has no representative to advocate for the community, and residents still lack basic services like community centers and parks. Several Koreatown residents filed a lawsuit against the city to address the many injustices against their community.

The lawsuit is not only about Koreatown, but also about the disenfranchisement of a community and the need for Asian American representation. You can read up on the lawsuit in the KoreaAm article and our media page. We have also created a FAQ that summarizes the issues as well. We are currently working on a video and a crowdfunding campaign to fundraise for legal fees associated with the lawsuit.

Thank you,
Eric Kim
Miriam Cho

Post-Doc: Race & Ethnicity, Indiana Univ.

The Center for Research on Race & Ethnicity in Society (CRRES) at Indiana University, Bloomington is pleased to accept applications for two Postdoctoral Fellowships for scholars studying race and ethnicity from a broad range of social science fields, including (but not limited to) African American Studies, American Studies, Asian American Studies, Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Native American Studies, Latino Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

The CRRES postdoctoral fellowship program aims to create a legacy of scholars who will be positioned to address issues related to race and ethnicity using a multidisciplinary lens. These fellowships are designed to nurture the academic careers of new scholars by providing opportunities to pursue research while gaining mentored experience as teachers, CRRES fellows, and members of the faculty in host departments. Strong applicants will demonstrate evidence of scholarship potentially competitive for tenure-track appointments at Indiana University and other research universities.

Terms of Agreement Fellows are expected to pursue research activities associated with their primary area, as demonstrated by conference presentations and published work. Fellows will also teach two courses in their home departments during each year of their residency, and are expected to participate in CRRES activities and in seminars in their home departments.

The positions are available for two years beginning August 1, 2015 through May 31, 2017, at a 10-month starting salary of $51,500. Each postdoctoral fellow will also receive $3,000 each year in research support and Indiana University health benefits. Fellows are allocated office space with basic office supplies, and a computer and printer.

Application Process We invite applications from qualified candidates who are at the beginning of their academic careers, having received the Ph.D. in 2013 or 2014 but who do not yet hold tenure-track academic positions. Candidates who do not hold a Ph.D. but expect to by June 30, 2015 must provide a letter from the chair of their dissertation committee, confirming the proposed timeline for completion. All applicants must file their dissertations no later than June 30, 2015.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, personal statement (3,000 words describing dissertation project, work in progress, professional goals and plans for publication, and proposed major field[s] of teaching), writing sample, and three letters of reference. If available, applicants may also submit materials demonstrating their aptitude as teachers. Following review by the CRRES postdoctoral committee, strong applications will be circulated to relevant departments. We prefer that applications be submitted online at

Materials sent by mail or any questions regarding the position or application process can be directed to: Dina Okamoto, Search Committee Chair, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, Indiana University – Schuessler Institute for Social Research 209, 1022 E. Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405 or Applications received by November 10, 2014 will receive full consideration.

June 5, 2014

Written by C.N.

In Memory of Yuri Kochiyama

You may have heard that long-time civil rights activist and Asian American icon Yuri Kochiyama passed away earlier this week at the age of 93. Readers can learn more details about her amazing life through boted Asian American scholar Diana Fujino’s biography Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. Prominent Asian American blog Reappropriate also has links to several other articles from major media outlets about her passing.

Yuri Kochiyama, © ColorLines magazine

The biography and articles highlight how she grew up in the Los Angeles area and had a seemingly normal middle-class life. All of that changed after the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. As history records, this eventually resulted in 120,000 Japanese Americans (two-thirds of them being U.S. citizens) having their constitutional rights revoked and incarcerated, just based on their Japanese ancestry, in dozens of prison camps across the U.S., without any due process whatsoever.

Among those imprisoned were Yuri and her family and this experience forever changed her perspective on the state of race relations, racism, and the overwhelming need for social justice in the U.S. She eventually married a Japanese American GI and moved to Harlem, New York City. There, she befriended a young Black nationalist named Malcolm X and in the course of her friendship, galvanized her determination to work toward social equality and justice on behalf of her community. She was there when Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965.

Thereafter, she became known for actively participating in the movements for ending the Viet Nam War, Puerto Rican independence (highlighted by being part of the group that occupied the Statue of Liberty in 1977), and for Japanese American reparations. In her later years in Oakland, CA, she kept up her activism and social justice work, particularly around the fight against racial profiling and rounding up of Arab and Muslim Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, as detailed in the excellent documentary “Lest We Forget” that highlighted the similarities between Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor and Arab & Muslim Americans after 9/11. Here at my institution, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, our Asian American student center is named the “Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center” on her behalf.

For me personally, Yuri Kochiyama was a hero and an inspiration. Like Yuri, I grew up in a predominantly White community and was entrenched in an assimilationist environment. I did not care about my roots as an Asian American, an immigrant, or a person of color — I just wanted to fit in and be like everybody else around me. In doing so, I was ignorant of all the racial injustices that had been perpetrated against people like me throughout U.S. and world history and that was still taking place all around me in different ways.

It wasn’t until my later years in college and after I started studying Sociology and Asian American Studies that I finally woke up, opened my eyes, reclaimed my identity, and pledged myself to do what I could to fight for racial equality and justice. That’s when I first learned about Yuri Kochiyama. She represented not just someone who was determined to draw on her personal experiences of racism to fight on behalf of others in similar situations, but as an Asian American woman, she stood in stark contrast to the stereotypical images of Asian American women as meek, submissive, exotic, and hypersexualized “geishas” and “China dolls.”

In other words, she gave all of us — men and women, Asian American or not — a different example of what Asian Americans, particularly women, are capable of. It is these examples and memories of Yuri Kochiyama as a strong, determined, committed, and inclusive activist and Asian American woman that I will carry forth with me.

June 4, 2014

Written by C.N.

New Books: Asian Americans and Global Communities

Among Asians and Asian Americans, “community” can take many different forms, whether it refers to the historical and contemporary dynamics of enclaves or diasporic and imagined frameworks of identity. As a reflection of this, the following books examine different examples and aspects of this emerging trend.

Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood: Brooklyn’s Sunset Park
, by Tarry Hum (Temple University Press)

'Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood' by Tarry Hum

Based on more than a decade of research, Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood charts the evolution of Sunset Park–with a densely concentrated working-poor and racially diverse immigrant population–from the late 1960s to its current status as one of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

Tarry Hum shows how processes of globalization, such as shifts in low-wage labor markets and immigration patterns, shaped the neighborhood. She explains why Sunset Park’s future now depends on Asian and Latino immigrant collaborations in advancing common interests in community building, civic engagement, entrepreneurialism, and sustainability planning. She shows, too, how residents’ responses to urban development policies and projects and the capital represented by local institutions and banks foster community activism.

Hum pays close attention to the complex social, political, and spatial dynamics that forge a community and create new models of leadership as well as coalitions. The evolution of Sunset Park so astutely depicted in this book suggests new avenues for studying urban change and community development.

Little Manila Is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American Community in Stockton, California, by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon (Duke University Press)

'Little Manila is in the Heart' by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon

In the early twentieth century—not long after 1898, when the United States claimed the Philippines as an American colony—Filipinas/os became a vital part of the agricultural economy of California’s fertile San Joaquin Delta. In downtown Stockton, they created Little Manila, a vibrant community of hotels, pool halls, dance halls, restaurants, grocery stores, churches, union halls, and barbershops.

Little Manila was home to the largest community of Filipinas/os outside of the Philippines until the neighborhood was decimated by urban redevelopment in the 1960s. Narrating a history spanning much of the twentieth century, Dawn Bohulano Mabalon traces the growth of Stockton’s Filipina/o American community, the birth and eventual destruction of Little Manila, and recent efforts to remember and preserve it.

Mabalon draws on oral histories, newspapers, photographs, personal archives, and her own family’s history in Stockton. She reveals how Filipina/o immigrants created a community and ethnic culture shaped by their identities as colonial subjects of the United States, their racialization in Stockton as brown people, and their collective experiences in the fields and in the Little Manila neighborhood. In the process, Mabalon places Filipinas/os at the center of the development of California agriculture and the urban West.

Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America, by Vivek Bald (Harvard University Press)

'Bengali Harlem' by Vivek Bald

In the final years of the nineteenth century, small groups of Muslim peddlers arrived at Ellis Island every summer, bags heavy with embroidered silks from their home villages in Bengal. The American demand for “Oriental goods” took these migrants on a curious path, from New Jersey’s beach boardwalks into the heart of the segregated South. Two decades later, hundreds of Indian Muslim seamen began jumping ship in New York and Baltimore, escaping the engine rooms of British steamers to find less brutal work onshore.

The stories of these early working-class migrants vividly contrast with our typical understanding of immigration. Vivek Bald’s meticulous reconstruction reveals a lost history of South Asian sojourning and life-making in the United States. At a time when Asian immigrants were vilified and criminalized, Bengali Muslims quietly became part of some of America’s most iconic neighborhoods of color, from Tremé in New Orleans to Detroit’s Black Bottom, from West Baltimore to Harlem. Many started families with Creole, Puerto Rican, and African American women.

Korean Immigrants in Canada: Perspectives on Migration, Integration, and the Family, edited by Samuel Noh, Ann Kim, and Marianne Noh (University of Toronto Press)

'Korean Immigrants in Canada' edited by Noh, Kim, and Noh

Koreans are one of the fastest-growing visible minority groups in Canada today. However, very few studies of their experiences in Canada or their paths of integration are available to public and academic communities. Korean Immigrants in Canada provides the first scholarly collection of papers on Korean immigrants and their offspring from interdisciplinary, social scientific perspectives.

The contributors explore the historical, psychological, social, and economic dimensions of Korean migration, settlement, and integration across the country. A variety of important topics are covered, including the demographic profile of Korean-Canadians, immigrant entrepreneurship, mental health and stress, elder care, language maintenance, and the experiences of students and the second generation. Readers will find interconnecting themes and synthesized findings throughout the chapters. Most importantly, this collection serves as a platform for future research on Koreans in Canada.

Cultivating Connections: The Making of Chinese Prairie Canada, by Alison R. Marshall (University of British Columbia Press)

'Cultivating Connections' by Alison R. Marshall

In the late 1870s, thousands of Chinese men left coastal British Columbia and the western United States and headed east. For these men, the Prairies were a land of opportunity: there, they could open shops, and potentially earn enough money to marry. The result of almost a decade’s research and more than three hundred interviews, Cultivating Connections tells the stories of some of prairie Canada’s Chinese settlers – across the generations, between the genders, and through cultural difference. These stories reveal the critical importance of networks of belonging within these communities in coping with experiences of racism and establishing a successful life on the Prairies.