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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.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States of America, my fellow sociologist (and wife BTW) Miliann Kang has written a ‘Love Letter to America’ (first published at The Massachusetts Review) that captures many of the sentiments that many Americans from diverse background feel about the what’s been happening in the U.S. these past few months.
I sat down to write you a breakup letter. But I can’t tell if I want to break up with you, or if you have already broken up with me. Does this election mean that we are going through a rough period, or that we are fundamentally incompatible? Do we as a nation need therapy, a divorce lawyer, or a restraining order? Should we just call a babysitter and go see a movie?
Or is it time for us to call it quits and start seeing other people? I have to admit, I’ve always had a thing for Canada.
I am mad at you and disappointed in us, America. I am still processing the fact that while you say you love me, you have jumped into bed with Donald Trump, a man who openly insults women, Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, people with disabilities, and basic principles of civility and civil liberties. On November 9, I woke up and realized that I didn’t know the country I thought I married. I felt like I had shared my deepest hopes and fears with you, and in return, you had punched me in the gut, spat in my face, and were ready to throw me out on the street.
This election has not brought out the best in us.
I know, you are going to call me ungrateful. After all, my parents came as immigrants from a war-torn country and you welcomed us—tired, poor, hungry, and huddled. You turned us into doctors, lawyers, artists, people who can speak and vote and stand up for what we believe in! We are now Made in America—but you still do not fully own us as part of the family. We don’t quite fit the image you have of yourself, and you still have such a hard time with that. We have stretched the way you look, talk, worship, dress, dance, and eat (and even though we have improved your palate immeasurably, at the end of the day, you just want your meat and potatoes—with ketchup, not Sriracha).
I’m getting a little confused writing this: who do I mean by “you” and who do I mean by “us?” Does “you” mean Red State, Republican, rural, non-college educated, racist, sexist, anti-queer, xenophobic, neo-Nazi, white supremacist Neanderthals? Does “us” mean Blue State, Democrat, urban, suburban, college-educated, liberal, elitist, nearing enlightenment do-gooders?
Is the dividing line those who voted for Trump and those who didn’t? If so, what happens when “we” lump all of “you” together, and you do the same to us? What is left if only one of us wins, and the winner takes all: the house, the car, the pension, the wedding pictures, the college friends? And the kids, what about the kids? We shouldn’t just stay together for their sake—or should we?
It seems like we don’t know who we are and what we want from each other anymore, or maybe we never really did. We manufactured this big, beautiful, poetic dream of a more perfect union, and it feels like we are on the verge of falling apart.
But I am still in love with you, you crazy, magnificent, flawed idea of a country, you. And I think, deep down, you still love me, too. It’s just your fear of commitment to a truly equal, free, and democratic relationship that is making you say and do mean things right now. This makes me feel unloved and want to cry sometimes, but I know it is because you too are feeling hurt and confused. We can talk about it.
I know I haven’t appreciated enough how hard you work, how firmly you believe in your principles, how tired you are of not getting respect, and how insecure you feel about the future. I know I have also felt like you don’t listen to me and take me for granted, and I hate to have to say this, but you scare me sometimes. You do seem to have some anger management issues that you need to work through.
Am I kidding myself that we can work this out? Is this the self-delusion too often seen in dysfunctional, abusive relationships, or is this true love? Metaphors can be tricky, especially when people get hurt, so I proceed with this one very cautiously.
We need to recognize the danger signs that we are at high risk for some form of national domestic violence. And just as licensed marriage and family counselors know that prevention is much more effective than trying to stop harm once it has escalated, we need to intervene before things get out of control. I’m not sure exactly how this intervention looks, but we—meaning everyone with a stake in keeping us together—need to get immediate and intensive training in conflict resolution, public education, knowing our rights and the rights of others, being active bystanders, and when necessary, martial arts.
We can get through this, but both of us are going to have to change. We are going to have to work harder than we ever imagined.
I remember all our road trips together, where we drove from Hollywood, to Little Saigon, to Brownsville, to Standing Rock, to Ferguson, to Hershey, PA, from Yosemite to the Everglades, from the Golden Gate to the Brooklyn Bridge, from the Lincoln Memorial to the National Museum of African American History, from the Superdome to the Ninth Ward, from Angel Island to Ellis Island.
Who else can contain such multitudes?
I can’t break up with you because I am you. Nor will I let you break up with me.
In my ongoing series of interviews with Asian American academics that highlight new books and research that illuminate different aspects and details of the Asian American experience, I am very happy to present an interview with my friend and colleague, Professor Angie Y. Chung, faculty in Sociology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, regarding her new book Saving Face: The Emotional Costs of the Asian Immigrant Family Myth. Her book explores the complex interpersonal and societal dynamics and conflicts that play themselves out between second generation Asian Americans (as children and adults) and their immigrant parents. The book’s description:
Tiger Mom. Asian patriarchy. Model minority children. Generation gap. The many images used to describe the prototypical Asian family have given rise to two versions of the Asian immigrant family myth. The first celebrates Asian families for upholding the traditional heteronormative ideal of the “normal (white) American family” based on a hard-working male breadwinner and a devoted wife and mother who raises obedient children. The other demonizes Asian families around these very same cultural values by highlighting the dangers of excessive parenting, oppressive hierarchies, and emotionless pragmatism in Asian cultures.
Saving Face cuts through these myths, offering a more nuanced portrait of Asian immigrant families in a changing world as recalled by the people who lived them first-hand: the grown children of Chinese and Korean immigrants. Drawing on extensive interviews, sociologist Angie Y. Chung examines how these second-generation children negotiate the complex and conflicted feelings they have toward their family responsibilities and upbringing. Although they know little about their parents’ lives, she reveals how Korean and Chinese Americans assemble fragments of their childhood memories, kinship narratives, and racial myths to make sense of their family experiences. However, Chung also finds that these adaptive strategies come at a considerable social and psychological cost and do less to reconcile the social stresses that minority immigrant families endure today.
Saving Face not only gives readers a new appreciation for the often painful generation gap between immigrants and their children, it also reveals the love, empathy, and communication strategies families use to help bridge those rifts.
How much did you personally struggle with balancing a close relationship with your parents and assimilating into mainstream U.S. society when you were growing up?
To put it simply, my experience as the oldest daughter of Korean immigrants is the main reason why I even decided to become a professor. I would say that I had a relatively happy childhood but like many of the folks I interviewed, I struggled with intergenerational conflict, unequal parental expectations, and dual identity struggles all throughout my high school and college years. In high school, I tried to cultivate a sense of belonging by relating to my African American peers but around that time is when the conflicts between Korean storeowners and Black patrons first broke out in the media. I remember this one time when I was sitting in an African American history course and we started talking about the Brooklyn boycotts against a Korean merchant. The worst part wasn’t that people were speculating on the racism of Korean businessowners but that I didn’t know what to say because I knew so little about Korean immigrants and their experiences, despite being the child of Korean immigrants myself. That was really a turning point for me because it started me on a journey to learn more about my parents and the larger ethnic community, as well as others like myself caught between two worlds.
Many Americans who are not of Asian descent still see Asian Americans as the model minority and as almost universally successful. How would you respond to their reaction that Asian Americans have nothing to complain about?
The experiences of Korean and Chinese Americans are quite diverse — not just in terms of our class situations, family structures, neighborhood experiences, and parents’ migration histories but also, the emotional resources each of us can draw on from our family networks to cope with these day-to-day problems. If you read some of the narratives of Korean and Chinese Americans in this book, it is quite clear that many of them had to confront very traumatic and difficult situations as children and were forced to take on adult responsibilities at an early age because their parents were so busy trying to escape incredible hardships, survive in a new country, and deal with the humiliation of being treated as foreigners. I listened to stories about emotional and physical abuse, substance abuse, gambling addictions, molestation, and mental illness that afflicted different family members including themselves. Some were raised in single-parent homes and transnationally-split families, while others were fortunate to be raised in stable, emotionally supportive homes. But one thing I learned was that money did not always guarantee happiness, because even financially-secure family members could be struggling with so much emotionally as part of the immigrant minority experience.
The question readers may ask is then why do people think Korean and Chinese Americans are so “successful?” First of all, I’d like to problematize the way we narrowly define “success” as equated with money. Second, all of us are forced to come up with emotional strategies that allow us to preserve the dignity and dreams of our immigrant parents who sacrificed everything to come to this country while we try to assert our own identities, find our support systems, and follow independent paths for happiness. What that means is that we can’t just disagree or disrespect our parents and insult their friends in front of others without it reverberating throughout our entire family histories. It means that even if we experience racism, homophobia, peer rejection, sexual assault, or some other personal trauma, we cannot simply talk about it with our parents because not only do they not understand American coping strategies but it could also end up doing nothing but hurting them very deeply. It means that there is much more emotionally at stake when we choose a personally satisfying romantic relationship or career as opposed to the ones that our parents worked hard to build for us. It means that as we get older, it is so much easier to act the part of the “good girl” or “good son” in front of some, while being something else in front of others. It means that there is so much more guilt, uncertainty, and obligation that is wrapped up into something simple as not coming home for dinner.
Can you elaborate more on your concept of “saving face” and how it relates to how second generation Asian Americans navigating between their Asian and American identities?
A deeply-engrained part of Korean, Chinese and other East Asian cultures is the importance of managing one’s personal and collective dignity and reputation and protecting them from humiliating or embarrassing situations by whatever means necessary. This means not only molding one’s behavior in front of others but also reigning in feelings of angers, shame and disappointment that they fear may undermine their self-integrity.
It is interestingly this same strategy that second generation Korean and Chinese Americans have adopted to manage the many tensions, contradictions and conflicts that emerge between the pressures of family values and gendered expectations, between class privilege and racial marginalization, and between immigrant parents’ American Dream and their individual life goals. It is thus not a surprise that the image they project to the outside world does not always align with how they think, feel and behave inside. To me, saving face clearly demonstrates the amazing emotional resilience of Asian Americans to face their struggles as they come of age, but I also find that it has some substantial social costs, which I discuss throughout the book.
As your book highlights, there seems to be a very thin line between the model minority image and the “yellow peril” image of Asian Americans. How much did your respondents feel this tension in their everyday lives and interactions with other Americans?
The funny part was that if I started asking them if they ever felt any discrimination, most of them initially said no. But then you really start getting deeper into their personal life experiences and you start hearing about being treated as a foreigner, being blocked from work promotions, or being fetishized as geishas or demasculinized as sexless males in their dating relationships. The difficulty of articulating racism for Asian Americans is that the vocabulary we have been given in the post-Civil Rights era has been organized around Black-White race relations and that our experiences straddle the boundaries of “positive” and “negative” stereotypes — both of which have equally harmful effects but make it tricky to explain our grievances. So sure, some of us can use the model minority stereotypes to our advantage on occasion, but in the bigger picture of things, that thin line has created an even bigger barrier for us in terms of understanding our own racial experiences, finding allies among those who are oppressed by the same system, and voicing our political views to the outside world.
What are some pieces of advice that you can give young Asian Americans as they try to find the balance between retaining their ethnic identity and solidarity to their family and community, while also integrating themselves into mainstream U.S. society as much as possible?
The readership I would love to reach out to the most are young Asian Americans who I feel face the most pressures to negotiate these two worlds in their quest to fit in and find their identities but lack the emotional stability and support they need to deal with it head-on. My advice to them is to recognize that it is possible to achieve happiness in both worlds and to keep exploring new support systems to take them through this journey — whether it be through extended relatives, supportive friends, ethnic communities, or institutions. Despite the immense diversity of their families and experiences, the one common strand I found among almost all the participants is that they found ways to make sense of their struggles and come to terms with their relationship with their parents as they entered adulthood.
The other advice I would like to share is the need to create a proper emotional and racial vocabulary for Asian Americans by continuing to voice our political views, creating new ways to articulate our experiences whether it be through language, the arts, or the media, and cultivating ethnic political solidarity and non-Asian political allies including foreign-born Asians and other racial minorities. Recently, NBC got into hot water because they had plans to release a comedy sitcom about a white man who orders a Filipino mail order bride. Social media spread the news like wildfire and eventually NBC decided to cancel the sitcom. This would not have happened ten years ago and it is showing that we are also beginning to find our way, although we still have a long way to go.
As the political, economic, and cultural interconnections between the U.S. and Asia become more important (and presumably the rivalries along the same lines), how do you think Asian Americans will be seen by the rest of U.S. society going forward?
It is clear that the rise of the Asian immigrant family myth coincides not only with the stereotype of the dysfunctional Black family but more recently, with rising economic competition from China and the perception that Asians are outcompeting their White counterparts educationally and economically. The perpetuation of the Asian immigrant family myth including the evil patriarch, the Tiger Mom, and the robotic model minority child helps to reassert the global supremacy of white Americans by dehumanizing their perceived racial competitors and highlighting their own sense of moral superiority. Of course there are more dimensions to this story that we must consider to get at the different racial, gender and class dimensions of parenting and families in America, which may also explain the mixed reactions to Asian immigrant families, but if you ask me if this global context is relevant in any way, the simple answer is yes.
I am very pleased to present an interview with my friend and colleague, Professor Leslie K. Wang, faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, regarding her new book Outsourced Children: Orphanage Care and Adoption in Globalizing China. Her book explores the political, economic, and cultural dynamics of western humanitarian organizations caring for orphan children, many with special needs, in modern China. The book’s description:
It’s no secret that tens of thousands of Chinese children have been adopted by American parents and that Western aid organizations have invested in helping orphans in China — but why have Chinese authorities allowed this exchange, and what does it reveal about processes of globalization?
Countries that allow their vulnerable children to be cared for by outsiders are typically viewed as weaker global players. However, Leslie K. Wang argues that China has turned this notion on its head by outsourcing the care of its unwanted children to attract foreign resources and secure closer ties with Western nations. She demonstrates the two main ways that this “outsourced intimacy” operates as an ongoing transnational exchange: first, through the exportation of mostly healthy girls into Western homes via adoption, and second, through the subsequent importation of first-world actors, resources, and practices into orphanages to care for the mostly special needs youth left behind.
Outsourced Children reveals the different care standards offered in Chinese state-run orphanages that were aided by Western humanitarian organizations. Wang explains how such transnational partnerships place marginalized children squarely at the intersection of public and private spheres, state and civil society, and local and global agendas. While Western societies view childhood as an innocent time, unaffected by politics, this book explores how children both symbolize and influence national futures.
What initially motivated you to research this dynamic of international adoption from China?
My interest in the topic of adoption dates back to when I studied abroad as a college student at Peking University during the late 1990s. At the time few Westerners lived there and Chinese society and economy was beginning to change very quickly. One day I visited the Forbidden City and was surprised to see two white American couples with strollers each carrying a Chinese baby girl. For the first time I became aware that children were being both abandoned and internationally adopted, and I wanted to find out how their movement across borders related to China–U.S. relations. Once I returned to the U.S. these issues became the focus of my senior honor’s thesis, then my master’s thesis, and eventually expanded into my dissertation and ultimately this book.
What’s your most notable or poignant memory in the time that you spent in China researching this topic?
During my fieldwork in orphanages, I was most touched by the moments when young children expressed deep care and compassion for each other. For example, oftentimes when another child was crying or in distress, kids as young as toddlers would run over to alert me to come help. One of the most poignant memories I have is from the four months I spent volunteering with a Western humanitarian group I call Tomorrow’s Children, which ran an infant palliative care unit on one floor of a Chinese state-run orphanage. I spent weeks getting to know a hilarious, spunky, and intelligent three-year-old girl with heart failure named Rose. Despite her poor physical condition, this tiny child would ask to “hold” other babies in the unit, clapping her hands before reaching out to hug them. I still have photos from these times, which I hold dear because Rose passed away shortly after.
Your book highlights the challenges faced by special needs youth in China. As China continues to modernize, how has its treatment of people (and particularly children) with special needs evolved through the years?
China does not have a great track record in terms of its treatment of individuals with disabilities, including children. Part of this is due to the state’s single-minded emphasis on furthering economic modernization and raising China’s global status since the late 1970s. To attain these goals, authorities have sought to create a productive, “high quality” workforce that only includes those who are able-bodied. Consequently, those who are seen as unable to contribute to this national agenda have been cast to the societal margins. Furthermore, there are lasting and pervasive cultural stigmas against disability in China that state officials have only exacerbated by maligning special needs children as undue burdens on their families and the country. That said, since the early 1980s, a set of policies has been enacted to protect the rights of disabled people. There is general consensus, however, that these laws have not been enforced uniformly, especially within rural areas with little access to financial, medical, and educational resources.
China recently rolled back its “One Child” policy and now allows two children per family. How do you think this change will affect international adoption in China?
For the past decade the trend of Chinese international adoptions has completely transformed. Most notably, whereas the majority of available children were once healthy female infants, now most international adoptees are children with minor to major special needs (many of them boys). Secondly, the overall rates of Western adoption have dramatically decreased as more domestic adoptions have taken place and more families have founds ways to keep additional children. The ending of the One Child Policy will likely intensify all of these shifts as citizens can have two children without penalty.
Beyond helping the Chinese children in their care, what are some other motivations on the part of the western humanitarian NGOs in this dynamic?
From my experience, the majority of Western humanitarian aid groups in China that are involved with orphan care are faith-based — typically Christian and Catholic. Although many volunteers would have liked to proselytize, they were limited in doing so by China’s atheistic stance toward religion. Therefore, I found that many of these groups engaged in “lifestyle evangelism,” in which they tried to use their work to set an example for local people to follow; they accomplished this by encouraging locals to care more about marginalized youth and by importing first-world care practices and philosophies about children into local orphanages. So beyond merely helping institutionalized youth, I would say that numerous Western NGOs were also motivated to expose Chinese people to more global notions of human rights.
The luster surrounding China’s meteoric economic rise during the last 30 years seems to be waning, as citizens from both developed and less-developed nations are increasingly weary about the negative impacts of globalization. How do you think this recent trend will affect international adoption from China going forward?
While it is true that China’s development has slowed down in recent years, I don’t believe that this has impacted Western parents’ desire to adopt. If anything, the demand for Chinese children (especially healthy female infants) has increased over time and stayed high in countries across the global north. The major difference is that domestic changes in China have shifted the supply of adoptable youth to include more disabled, ill, and older kids. So I would say that the lower numbers of adopted Chinese children have more to do with the implementation of domestic Chinese state policies that don’t specifically have to do with international adoption.
One country that has transitioned from being less-developed to highly-developed is South Korea. They were also a source of large numbers of international adoptions but have dramatically reduced the number of its children adopted internationally in recent years. Do you think China is headed in that direction?
Definitely. As I noted earlier, China is already headed in that direction. For the case of South Korea, during the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics government authorities were heavily critiqued for “exporting” babies to other countries. As a result, the South Korean government began to slow adoptions and ultimately decreased them by more than two-thirds. In China’s case, the numbers have dropped dramatically from a high of roughly 14,000 foreign placements in 2005 to fewer than 3,000 in 2014. Since the emphasis now is on special needs children, who have low chances of domestic adoption due to cultural stigmas against disabilities, this trend may continue for some time. It’s conceivable that China will eventually stop adoptions altogether, though it is unclear when that time might be.
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 Papers: Between Asia and Latin America: New Transpacific Perspectives
Edited by Andrea Bachner (Cornell University) and Pedro Erber (Cornell University)
Asia and the Americas no longer occupy the disconnected extremes of an imagined map. Nor do they continue to embody the antipodes of East and West, framing Europe as the symbolic center. Rather, accelerated by recent geopolitical and global economic shifts, the Transpacific has emerged as a space of intense transcultural movements and exchanges, reviving the “swarmlike buzz of activity” around and across the perimeter of the Pacific that Claude Lévi-Strauss had pitted against “the great Atlantic silence” prior to the “discovery” of the Americas (Tristes Tropiques 297). And yet, most approaches to the cultural interactions of the Transpacific remain limited by a focus on the Northern part of the Americas, often equating the label of “American” implicitly (or explicitly) with the US. Recent exciting work on the Transpacific that has started to include Latin America, thus troubling not only easy divisions of East and West, but also of North and South, often divided into and thus limited by the perspectives of specific disciplines, such as Asian-American studies, Latin-American Studies, or diaspora studies.
This special issue will gather different emerging approaches to the intercultural study of Asia and Latin America with the aim of rethinking the Transpacific as a method, a lens for comparison, rather than simply an area or a region. The emergence of new Transpacific perspectives signals the myriad possibilities of new transregional frameworks that challenge conventional geopolitical models of comparative studies. Consequently, we invite essays that approach the real and imagined spaces of the Transpacific between Asia and Latin America from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines. We especially welcome work that reflects critically and creatively on the multiple possible meanings, methodologies, and mappings of the Transpacific and that pays attention to alternative links between Asia and Latin America: from diaspora, textual circulation, and cultural exchanges to uneven dialogues, compelling analogies, or conceptual affinities.
Submission deadline: August 1, 2016
Please submit queries to email@example.com. For more information about the journal, see https://www.upress.umn.edu/journal-division/journals/verge-studies-in-global-asias.
Call for Papers: Creative Works by Women of Color Academics
Deadline for abstracts: Sept. 30, 2016
In this book, we will feature narratives of women of color academics who embody what we call academic bravery. These are women who have demonstrated courage in their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, service, activism, and leadership, despite the potential professional risks. As with any academic, these scholars work in contexts wherein academic cowardice is the norm; despite rewards for productivity, creativity, and innovation, scholars are implicitly rewarded to a far greater extent for “playing it safe,” remaining “objective,” detached and apolitical in their work, and refusing to challenge the status quo in academia and beyond. These conservative norms pose constraints on marginalized scholars, namely women of color, who pursue academic careers to liberate themselves and their communities. Despite the stereotype that college campuses are liberal, social justice utopias, the academy has increasingly become a risk-averse and conservative profession.
“But some of us are brave…”
In this forthcoming edited volume, we aim to celebrate the bravery of women of color academics in the 21st century. We invite women of color scholars to reflect on their courageous acts as researchers, teachers, mentors, administrators, advocates, activists, and entrepreneurs, no matter the professional risks. All contributions should explicitly reflect upon risk-taking, speaking up and out, challenging oppressive norms, surviving and thriving, overcoming professional and personal obstacles, innovation, and/or entrepreneurship. We strongly encourage potential contributors to 1) inspire women of color (academic or not) and other marginalized people and/or 2) to offer specific strategies for women of color academics to harness their bravery. We welcome submissions of personal narratives in the form of:
Other creative works
While these narratives may cite empirical work, and we welcome empirically-based essays, the focus of the book is not to advance scientific inquiry on a particular topic but to validate the common struggles women of color experience in the academy. The book is intended to give voice to a frequently silenced segment of the academy by making visible and honoring courageous work that often goes unnoticed or is even penalized. The hope is that many contributors will find this book a place to publish work that may be otherwise “homeless.”
We invite the full diversity of women of color academics, including Black/African American, Latina/Hispanic, Asian/Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American/American Indian, Arab/Arab American, Muslim, and immigrant women. We use a broad and inclusive definition of “woman of color,” thus welcoming trans and cisgender women of color; queer, pansexual, bisexual, lesbian, asexual, and heterosexual women of color; women of color with and without disabilities; religious and nonreligious women of color; women of color of diverse body sizes; and, first-gen, working-class, and middle-class women of color. In addition, we welcome women of color scholars from all academic disciplines, all career stages, and all post-PhD/terminal degree careers (e.g., alt-ac, post-ac, contingent faculty, non-tenure track, and tenure-track faculty).
The deadline for abstracts is September 30th, 2016. Submit your abstract (400 words or less) and a short biography electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. Accepted abstracts will be invited as full-length submissions, which are due by February 17th, 2017. Full papers should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents that are double-spaced and use 12-point Times New Roman font; they should range from 15-25 pages, plus references in APA style.
About the Editors:
Dr. Manya Whitaker is an Assistant Professor of Education at Colorado College where she teaches courses focused on social and political issues in education. Her areas of expertise include urban education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and developmentally appropriate teaching. In her Connecting Learning Across Social Settings (CLASS) lab, Dr. Whitaker conducts research concerned with how to best prepare teachers to teach culturally and linguistically diverse students. She is the founder of Blueprint Educational Strategies, an educational consulting business that provides workshops for teachers and administrators, as well as guidance and advocacy for families. She is also a blogger and regular contributor for Conditionally Accepted.com – an online career advice column and community for marginalized scholars. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Their research focuses on the impact of prejudice and discrimination on the health, well-being, and worldviews of marginalized groups – namely trans and queer people, people of color, and women, especially individuals who are members of multiple oppressed groups. Dr. Grollman is also an intellectual activist who focuses on making the academy a more just, humane, equitable, and accessible place. They are the founder and editor of the blog, ConditionallyAccepted.com, which is now a weekly career advice column for marginalized scholars on Inside Higher Ed. They can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past Friday, June 3 2016, Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74. More than being regarded as the greatest boxers ever, Muhammad Ali is remembered as one of the most significant, famous, and celebrated athletes of all time. His legacy transcends his accomplishments inside the boxing ring and also encompasses his tradition of political activism, outspoken support of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, and his inspiring life history as a role model, social critic, and social conscience of U.S. society.
As with almost all public figures, Muhammad Ali was also a controversial and polarizing figure in U.S. history. Perhaps the most controversial episode for which he was known was his resistance to being drafted to fight in the Viet Nam War. His immense impact on the Asian American community is perhaps best represented by his famous quote at the time, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
After refusing to be inducted into the U.S. military on April 28, 1967, he was convicted of a felony and all of the major boxing associations stripped him of his title and prevented him from competing professionally for over three years. During this period, he was widely denounced and vilified by much of the U.S. as a traitor to the country, with the hostility magnified even more because he was a Black man.
However, in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his felony conviction. Despite the public criticism of his refusal to be drafted, Muhammad Ali never wavered in his refusal to participate in the Viet Nam War and continued to work in support of the Civil Rights Movement and efforts toward social justice around the world. He stood his moral ground and in his own words, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Time eventually heals all wounds and in recent decades, Muhammad Ali rightfully became known as of the most towering and revered Americans of the late twentieth century. In addition to the multitude of statements and tweets commemorating his life from athletes, public figures, and others around the world, I would like to share some excerpts from a fellow sociologist, the well-renowned Professor Harry Edwards of U.C. Berkeley (edited for length):
It is only when a GIANT passes from among us and we stand blinking and rubbing our eyes in the glaring reality of our loss that we come truly to appreciate how much we all have really been just living in his shadow. So it is with Muhammad Ali: he was an athlete of unparalleled brilliance, beauty, and bravado at a time when black athletes . . . were expected to be silent, self-effacing “producers,” not loquacious, verbose entertaining performers in the arena. . . .
He influenced people from the most powerful (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, for example) to the most naive students and “draft vulnerable” youths to rethink their positions on the issue of “war and peace.”
He was the model for a generation of “activist athletes” relative to the questions of athlete political relevance and involvement. He taught us all by word and example that there can be no “for sale” sign, no “price tag” on principles, human dignity, and freedom, among so many of his other contributions. . . . “The Greatest” doesn’t begin to truly capture the magnitude and measure of his broad scope, contributions and legacy.
Along with millions of Americans and billions of people around the world, I will remember Muhammad Ali as a truly inspiring, transformative, and monumental person who was a tremendously courageous trailblazer for professional athletes, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the entire human race. Rest in peace, champ.
By now, you’ve heard of the controversy surrounding how all the acting nominees at the 2016 Academy Awards were entirely White, with no actor of color nominated. And you probably saw host Chris Rock’s take on the situation throughout the Oscars awards ceremony. And hopefully you saw the skit in which three Asian American children were used as props for a rather weak and ultimately offensive skit.
Lots of people and many Asian Americans have rightfully called out Chris Rock’s skit as downright racist. One of the best critiques (in my biased opinion) comes from fellow Asian American professor, UMass Amherst colleague, and my wife Miliann Kang in her piece at Contexts magazine, titled “An Asian American Mother’s Question to Chris Rock and the Academy.” An excerpt:
Out walked three Asian American children, wearing tuxes and thick glasses. Chris Rock introduced them as accountants from the prestigious firm of Pricewaterhouse Coopers—Ming Zu, Bao Ling, and…David Moskowitz? Then anticipating the pushback, he added that if anyone was upset they should “just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids.”
I looked over at my sixteen year-old daughter who looked stunned. Was this really happening? She loves Chris Rock. She loves movies. We were right there with him, so what happened? . . .
These are the oldest tricks in the racial playbook -— kick the next person down on the rung. Divide and conquer. Shame and blame. Dump the pain on someone else. I know Chris Rock did not create these problems, and he has done much to try to address them. And whether or not Chris Rock made racist jokes about Asians, Hollywood would still have a race problem. But on this night, he also added to them. . . .
I thought we were further along than this. I thought my child would not have to endure the same inane, stupid racist jokes that I grew up with, not on the playground, not in the movies, not on a night that was supposed to highlight the importance of diversity in the movies.
Again, I am obviously biased since the author happens to be my wife, but I think her valuable contribution to the discussion of this incident is to both put it in the larger institutional context of the U.S. racial landscape while also personalizing its effect on our family as well.
As the spring semester gets underway at many colleges and universities around the country, that means that new groups of students get their first introduction to Asian American Studies. With that in mind, these recently-published books provide some more details and sociological context about the history and contemporary dynamics of the Asian American community.
Asian Americans are often stereotyped as the “model minority.” Their sizeable presence at elite universities and high household incomes have helped construct the narrative of Asian American “exceptionalism.” While many scholars and activists characterize this as a myth, pundits claim that Asian Americans’ educational attainment is the result of unique cultural values. In The Asian American Achievement Paradox, sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou offer a compelling account of the academic achievement of the children of Asian immigrants.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with the adult children of Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees and survey data, Lee and Zhou bridge sociology and social psychology to explain how immigration laws, institutions, and culture interact to foster high achievement among certain Asian American groups. For the Chinese and Vietnamese in Los Angeles, Lee and Zhou find that the educational attainment of the second generation is strikingly similar, despite the vastly different socioeconomic profiles of their immigrant parents. Because immigration policies after 1965 favor individuals with higher levels of education and professional skills, many Asian immigrants are highly educated when they arrive in the United States.
They bring a specific “success frame,” which is strictly defined as earning a degree from an elite university and working in a high-status field. This success frame is reinforced in many local Asian communities, which make resources such as college preparation courses and tutoring available to group members, including their low-income members. While the success frame accounts for part of Asian Americans’ high rates of achievement, Lee and Zhou also find that institutions, such as public schools, are crucial in supporting the cycle of Asian American achievement. Teachers and guidance counselors, for example, who presume that Asian American students are smart, disciplined, and studious, provide them with extra help and steer them toward competitive academic programs.
These institutional advantages, in turn, lead to better academic performance and outcomes among Asian American students. Yet the expectations of high achievement come with a cost: the notion of Asian American success creates an “achievement paradox” in which Asian Americans who do not fit the success frame feel like failures or racial outliers. While pundits ascribe Asian American success to the assumed superior traits intrinsic to Asian culture, Lee and Zhou show how historical, cultural, and institutional elements work together to confer advantages to specific populations. An insightful counter to notions of culture based on stereotypes, The Asian American Achievement Paradox offers a deft and nuanced understanding how and why certain immigrant groups succeed.
A New History of Asian America is a fresh and up-to-date history of Asians in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. Drawing on current scholarship, Shelley Lee brings forward the many strands of Asian American history, highlighting the distinctive nature of the Asian American experience while placing the narrative in the context of the major trajectories and turning points of U.S. history. Covering the history of Filipinos, Koreans, Asian Indians, and Southeast Indians as well as Chinese and Japanese, the book gives full attention to the diversity within Asian America.
A robust companion website features additional resources for students, including primary documents, a timeline, links, videos, and an image gallery. From the building of the transcontinental railroad to the celebrity of Jeremy Lin, people of Asian descent have been involved in and affected by the history of America. A New History of Asian America gives twenty-first-century students a clear, comprehensive, and contemporary introduction to this vital history.
Born out of the Civil Rights and Third World Liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Asian American Studies has grown significantly over the past four decades, both as a distinct field of inquiry and as a potent site of critique. Characterized by transnational, trans-Pacific, and trans-hemispheric considerations of race, ethnicity, migration, immigration, gender, sexuality, and class, this multidisciplinary field engages with a set of concepts profoundly shaped by past and present histories of racialization and social formation.
The keywords included in this collection are central to social sciences, humanities, and cultural studies and reflect the ways in which Asian American Studies has transformed scholarly discourses, research agendas, and pedagogical frameworks.Spanning multiple histories, numerous migrations, and diverse populations, Keywords for Asian American Studies reconsiders and recalibrates the ever-shifting borders of Asian American studies as a distinctly interdisciplinary field.
While there are books on racism in universities, few examine the unique position of Asian American undergraduates. This new book captures the voices and experiences of Asian Americans navigating the currents of race, gender, and sexuality as factors in how youth construct relationships and identities. Interviews with 70 Asian Americans on an elite American campus show how students negotiate the sexualized racism of a large institution. The authors emphasize the students’ resilience and their means of resistance for overcoming the impact of structural racism.
In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.
An epic history of global journeys and new beginnings, this book shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life in the United States: sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500s; indentured “coolies” who worked alongside African slaves in the Caribbean; and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian immigrants who were recruited to work in the United States only to face massive racial discrimination, Asian exclusion laws, and for Japanese Americans, incarceration during World War II.
Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a “despised minority,” Asian Americans are now held up as America’s “model minorities” in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States. Published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the United States’ Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that has remade our “nation of immigrants,” this is a new and definitive history of Asian Americans. But more than that, it is a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.
Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about experiences of discrimination by Asian American men. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.
I am emailing you for distributing my survey on Asian American men’s experiences of discrimination on your blog. I am currently a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Indiana University Bloomington and collecting data for a research project. This survey intents to understand how Asian American men experience discrimination differently from Asian American women or men of other races.
This is a anonymous survey that investigates Asian American men’s experiences of discrimination based on both of their gender and race. Eligible participants are Asian American men who are 18 or older, either born and raised in the U.S. or immigrated to the U.S. at age 10 or younger. The survey takes 30 minutes to complete and each participant has the chance of winning a $20 Amazon gift card after completing the survey.
This study has been approved by Indiana University’s Institutional Research Board. The results of the study will be used to develop scales that measure Asian American men’s experiences of gendered racism. Please consider this request. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at liu323@Indiana.edu or my dissertation advisor Dr. Joel Wong at joelwong@Indiana.edu . Thank you very much!
Tao Liu, M.S. & M.A.
Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology
Indiana University Bloomington
Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about Chinese Americans who were internationally separated from their parents. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.
We are seeking Chinese Americans for a new paid research study that looks at international separation between parents and children. You may qualify if you: 1) are 18 years or older; 2) lived in China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong as a child for at least six months while both of your parents were in North America; and 3) can speak about your experiences at length.
You will receive a $30 Amazon gift card for filling out an online survey and participating in a phone interview. The researchers are affiliated with Wellesley College, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
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 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
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.
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: https://shucehs.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5uJYdeSa6QVoVrn
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
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: