Topics & Articles

Home

Culture

Ethnic Groups

History

Issues

Links

Viet Nam



Search

or Browse the Archives

or Gets Posts by Tags



Most Popular Books on Asian-Nation

Miscellaneous

All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

Blog powered by WordPress


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 7, 2012

Written by C.N.

Exit Poll Statistics and How Asian Americans Voted in the 2012 Presidential Election

I am relieved to report that after a hard-fought and expensive campaign, President Barack Obama has been reelected as President of the United States, having defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts. Many of the major media outlets and blogs will describe in detail the different factors that led to President Obama’s victory and what his victory means for him in terms of moving forward with his agenda in his second term.

President Obama celebrating his 2012 victory © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

For now, I just wanted to share a few interesting exit poll data and quick observations about this 2012 Presidential election as it relates to Asian American voters and compare it to the President’s 2008 victory. The exit poll statistics below come from both the New York Times and CNN.

How Asian Americans Voted

In the 2008 election, 61% of Asian Americans voted for President Obama. In this 2012 election, that percentage increased to 73% as reported by both the New York Times and CNN. In fact, this number is higher than the percentage of Hispanics/Latinos who voted for President Obama (71%).

Although I have not heard of any high-profile Democratic campaign to appeal to Asian Americans, I think this is a pretty remarkable performance by the President. Increasing his support among Asian Americans seems to suggest that even without a direct and sustained appeal that was specific to Asian Americans, the vast majority of Asian Americans still resonated with President Obama’s platform and message.

I also think that increasing his support from Asian Americans should also dispel the belief that Asian Americans are only concerned with economic success and financial issues. In other words, if the majority of Asian Americans thought that fixing the economy was the single most important issue in the election, more than likely they would have voted for Romney, since most surveys found that more than half of Americans thought that Romney would be better at fixing the economy.

Instead, it seems that most Asian Americans, while still concerned about the economy, also considered other policy and social issues to be important as well, which may include immigration reform, wealth inequality and economic justice, civil and LGBT rights, etc. Perhaps this is due to the demographic trends within the Asian American population and how Asian Americans are gradually become younger and more U.S.-born than in years past.

In the end, President Obama getting 73% of the Asian American vote should also demonstrate rather convincingly that most Asian Americans are solidly liberal. While the ideological pendulum will always swing back and forth and the percentage of Asian Americans who vote Democratic will fluctuate, data from the past several elections confirm that Asian Americans are a pretty solid Democratic constituency.

Along with the Hispanic/Latino community, this should be a wake up call for the Republican Party going forward — if they want to have a fighting chance to consistently capture the White House and Congress in upcoming elections, they need to reverse their swing to the far right and move more toward the center if they want to avoid alienating the growing Hispanic/Latino and Asian American communities.

Along with many other Asian Americans, I will savor this victory for now, but also look forward to using this reelection to enact policies that will move the country forward and make life better for Americans from all backgrounds.

Roundup of How Asian American Candidates Fared

Here is a listing of some articles from Asian American media and bloggers on how Asian American political candidates fared in the 2012 election:


May 2, 2011

Written by C.N.

The Racial Undertones of the Birther Movement

I’m sure you have all heard by now that last week, after dealing with increased media publicity about questions regarding his U.S. citizenship, President Obama felt compelled to petition the state of Hawai’i to publicly release his long form Certificate of Live Birth that verifies that he was in fact born in the U.S. and is therefore eligible to be President. Below is a news clip of the story from NBC News:

As many observers point out, this release of the long form Certificate of Live Birth should appease many Americans who may have had a slight doubt about President Obama’s birthplace. However, it is not likely to convince “hardcore” birthers who will undoubtedly continue to question Obama’s status as an American, no matter what the evidence.

So let’s just cut to the chase: this “birther” movement is not really about Obama’s eligibility to be President. Rather, it just another example of the White Backlash that I have been describing for a while now and illustrates the resistance and difficulty that a number of White Americans still have about having a person of color as President and the larger context of demographic and cultural changes taking place in U.S. society. To summarize some of my earlier posts, several institutional trends are fundamentally changing U.S. society:

© James Noble/Corbis
  • The changing demographics of the U.S. in which non-Whites increasingly make up a larger proportion of the population and the projection that in about 35 years, Whites will no longer be a majority in the U.S.
  • The political emergence of non-Whites, best represented by the election of President Obama, and also illustrated by the growing Latino population.
  • The continuing evolution and consequences of globalization, the growing interconnections between the economies of the U.S. with other countries, and the economic rise of China and India.
  • The “normalization” of economic instability and how, even after this current recession ends, Americans will likely still be vulnerable to economic fluctuations that affect the housing market, stock market, and overall unemployment.
  • The unease about the U.S.’s eroding influence and military vitality around the world.

In basic terms, these institutional trends have led many (as always, meaning a large number but not all) White Americans to feel destabilized as their implicit and taken-for-granted position at the top of the U.S. racial hierarchy is increasingly being threatened — politically, economically, and socially. They are also afraid that, as the U.S. is starting to lose its position of being the dominant political, economic, and military superpower in the world, their standard of living — and hence, their identity — are being threatened in the process.

As social scientists document, whenever anybody or any group feels threatened, they tend to get defensive, reactive, and attempt to cling on to their privileges as much as possible. One mechanism by which they do so is to assert a more rigid cultural boundary between them and “others” — insiders vs. outsiders, us vs. them. In the case of the birther movement, this attempt revolves around differentiating between “real” Americans (in the traditional image of U.S. society — White, middle class, and Protestant) and those perceived as “fake” Americans — immigrants, people of color, and specifically, President Obama.

The birthers usually counter with accusations that critics like me are just “playing the race card” and that their questions about Obama’s status as an American have nothing to do with his race. Unfortunately the evidence is not in their favor. As observers and critics like Tim Wise have argued elsewhere, the racial overtones of the birther movement and the larger White backlash movement are overwhelming.

At this point, it is almost exasperating to list and recount every single example of the racist aspects of the birther and White backlash movement. So for now, perhaps the best way to illustrate this further is to use humor and satire. For that, I will turn to Stephen Colbert and his recent observations about this issue below — make sure you view the video through to the end — punchline is well worth it:


July 5, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: July

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

  • 2009: Reflections on a Multiracial Buddhist Retreat
    One of my most controversial posts — In an otherwise refreshing and renewing multiracial Buddhist family retreat, two incidents with racial overtones highlight unconscious racial dynamics still present in American society.
  • 2008: The New Yorker’s Obama Cover
    The New Yorker’s controversial cartoon cover of Barack and Michelle Obama as terrorists brings up a range of reactions from conservatives and liberals.
  • 2007: Allowing Non-Citizens to Vote
    Should immigrants who haven’t become citizens yet be allowed to vote in elections?
  • 2006: “Cute Culture” in Japan
    Looking at the rising popularity of “cute culture’s” effect on Japan’s mentality toward outsiders.
  • 2005: Native Hawaiian Sovereignty
    Looking at the contentious debate about whether to grant Native Hawaiians sovereignty rights.
  • 2004: Jumping the Gun
    Racial paranoia fed by terrorist fears leads to a sad case of racial profiling.

June 30, 2010

Written by C.N.

New Books: Race/Ethnicity in Contemporary America

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

It’s been kind of a quiet start of the summer in terms of pressing issues or current events related to race/ethnicity, so perhaps it’s useful to take a step back and look at the general state of race/ethnicity in contemporary American society.

Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America, by Rich Benjamin (Hyperion Press)

Searching for Whitopia, by Rich Benjamin

Between 2007 and 2009, Rich Benjamin, a journalist-adventurer, packed his bags and embarked on a 26,909-mile journey throughout the heart of white America, to some of the fastest-growing and whitest locales in our nation.

By 2042, whites will no longer be the American majority. As immigrant populations–largely people of color–increase in cities and suburbs, more and more whites are moving to small towns and exurban areas that are predominately, even extremely, white. Rich Benjamin calls these enclaves “Whitopias” (pronounced: “White-o-pias”).

His journey to unlock the mysteries of Whitopias took him from a three-day white separatist retreat with links to Aryan Nations in North Idaho to the inner sanctum of George W. Bush’s White House–and many points in between. And to learn what makes Whitopias tick, and why and how they are growing, he lived in three of them (in Georgia, Idaho, and Utah) for several months apiece. A compelling raconteur, bon vivant, and scholar, Benjamin reveals what Whitopias are like and explores the urgent social and political implications of this startling phenomenon.

The glow of Barack Obama’s historic election cannot obscure the racial and economic segregation still vexing America. Obama’s presidency has actually raised the stakes in a battle royale between two versions of America: one that is broadly comfortable with diversity yet residentially segregated (ObamaNation) and one that does not mind a little ethnic food or a few mariachi dancers–as long as these trends do not overwhelm a white dominant culture.

Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity, by Tim Wise (City Lights Publishers)

Colorblind, by Tim Wise

In this powerful follow-up to Between Barack and a Hard Place, Tim Wise argues against “colorblindness” and for a deeper color-consciousness in both public and private practice. We can only begin to move toward authentic social and economic equity through what Wise calls “illuminated individualism”—acknowledging the diverse identities that have shaped our perceptions, and the role that race continues to play in the maintenance of disparities between whites and people of color in the United States today. This is the first book to discuss the pitfalls of “colorblindness” in the Obama era.

Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future, by Angela Glover Blackwell, Stewart Kwoh, and Manuel Pastor (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Uncommon Ground, by Blackwell, Kwoh, & Pastor

With a mixed-race president, a Latino population that is now the largest minority, and steadily growing Asian and Pacific Islander populations, race is both the most dynamic facet of American identity and the defining point of American disunity.

By broadening the racial dialogue, Blackwell, founder of PolicyLink; Kwoh, president of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center; and Pastor, professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC, bring new perspective to this essential American issue.

Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century, edited by Hazel Rose Markus and Paula M. L. Moya (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Doing Race, by Markus and Moya

Doing Race focuses on race and ethnicity in everyday life: what they are, how they work, and why they matter. Going to school and work, renting an apartment or buying a house, watching television, voting, listening to music, reading books and newspapers, attending religious services, and going to the doctor are all everyday activities that are influenced by assumptions about who counts, whom to trust, whom to care about, whom to include, and why. Race and ethnicity are powerful precisely because they organize modern society and play a large role in fueling violence around the globe.

Drawing on the latest science and scholarship, the collected essays emphasize that race and ethnicity are not things that people or groups have or are, but rather sets of actions that people do. Doing Race provides compelling evidence that we are not yet in a “post-race” world and that race and ethnicity matter for everyone. Since race and ethnicity are the products of human actions, we can do them differently. Like studying the human genome or the laws of economics, understanding race and ethnicity is a necessary part of a twenty first century education.

Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation, by Molefi Kete Asante (Prometheus Books)

Erasing Racism, by Molefi Kete Asante

Did the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States signal real progress in bridging America’s long-standing racial divide? In this profound study of systemic racism, Molefi Kete Asante, a leading scholar of African American history and culture, discusses the greatest source of frustration and anger among African Americans in recent decades: what he calls “the wall of ignorance” that attempts to hide the long history of racial injustice from public consciousness.

This is most evident in each race’s differing perspectives on racial matters. Though most whites view racism as a thing of the past, a social problem largely solved by the civil rights movement, blacks continue to experience racism in many areas of social life: encounters with the police; the practice of redlining in housing; difficulties in getting bank loans, mortgages, and insurance policies; and glaring disparities in health care, educational opportunities, unemployment levels, and incarceration rates.

Though such problems are not expressions of the overt racism of legal segregation and lynch mobs – what most whites probably think of when they hear the word ‘racism’ – their negative effect on black Americans is almost as pernicious. Such daily experiences create a lingering feeling of resentment that percolates in a slow boil till some event triggers an outburst of rage. Asante argues that America cannot long continue as a cohesive society under these conditions.

As we embark upon new leadership under America’s first African American president, he urges more public focus on redressing the wrongs of the past and their continuing legacy. Above all, he thinks that Americans must seriously consider some system of reparations to deal with both past and present injustices, an apology, and our own truth-and-reconciliation committee that addresses both the history of slavery and present-day racism. Only in this way, he feels, can we ever hope to heal the racial divide that never seems to be erased.


March 30, 2010

Written by C.N.

White Backlash: Yes, It’s Real

For frequent readers of this blog, you’ve probably read several posts in which I discuss the anti-minority, anti-immigrant White backlash phenomenon. For those who aren’t familiar with such arguments, the White backlash is basically the idea that many (as in a large number, perhaps even most, but not all) White Americans increasingly feel destabilized and even threatened by many of the following developments in American society:

  • The changing demographics of the U.S. in which non-Whites increasingly make up a larger proportion of the population and the projection that in about 35 years, Whites will no longer be a majority in the U.S.
  • The political emergence of non-Whites, best represented by the election of President Obama, and also illustrated by the growing Latino population.
  • The continuing evolution and consequences of globalization, the growing interconnections between the economies of the U.S. with other countries, and the economic rise of China and India.
  • The “normalization” of economic instability and how, even after this current recession ends, Americans will likely still be vulnerable to economic fluctuations that affect the housing market, stock market, and overall unemployment.
  • The unease about the U.S.’s eroding influence and military vitality around the world.
Tea Party protester © Jeff Malet/maletphoto.com

Taken together, these institutional developments and their negative consequences have been increasingly been felt on the individual level by many Americans. But in the case of White Americans, they have had a particularly significant impact because, as a group, their position at the top of the American racial hierarchy is increasingly being threatened — politically, economically, and socially.

That is, even though many Whites will deny their position at the top and the privileges that they directly and indirectly enjoy, ultimately very few would be willing to trade places with a person of color if given the choice. So as many Whites see these shifts and changes taking place around them, they increasingly feel confused, defensive, and angry about what is happening to “their country.”

For those who say I’m overreacting, take a look at Gregory Rodriguez’s recent article in Time magazine where he basically points out the same thing:

As much as Americans pride themselves on the notion that their national identity is premised on a set of ideals rather than a single race, ethnicity or religion, we all know that for most of our history, white supremacy was the law of the land.

In every naturalization act from 1790 to 1952, Congress included language stating that the aspiring citizen should be a “white person.” And not surprisingly, despite the extraordinary progress of the past 50 years, the sense of white proprietorship — “this is our country and our culture” — still has not been completely eradicated. . .

This [White backlash] won’t take the form of a chest-thumping brand of white supremacy. Instead, we are likely to see the rise of a more defensive, aggrieved sense of white victimhood. . . . one can hear evidence of white grievance in many corners of the country. And it’s not coming just from fringe bloggers.

In the spring of 2008, candidate Hillary Clinton appealed to “hardworking white Americans” to help her campaign against an ascendant Barack Obama. Last March, conservative commentator Glenn Beck suggested that the white man responsible for the worst workplace massacre in Alabama history was “pushed to the wall” because he felt “silenced” and “disenfranchised” by “political correctness.” . . .

[E]ven though they are still the majority and collectively maintain more access to wealth and political influence than other groups, whites are acting more and more like an aggrieved minority.

Columnist Frank Rich at the New York Times makes similar points:

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver [African American members of Congress] — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse.

When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from. They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress.

The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

As others, including many of my fellow sociologists, have already written about, we can see examples of this White backlash throughout American society, such as the growing militancy of Tea Party members, the Texas school board elections, and the recent racial incidents and tensions at the University of California campuses, to name just a few of the most recent examples.

I anticipate that there will be plenty to say and write about in terms of this growing White backlash movement for the foreseeable future, so for now, I will leave it at that and just say that whether White Americans like it or not, and whether they want to recognize it or not, this backlash among many White Americans is real and it is absolutely centered on racial issues, conscious and unconscious.


January 18, 2010

Written by C.N.

Dr. King, Race, Politics, and a Colorblind Society

Today we celebrate Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and legacy as a national holiday. I would like to use this occasion to reflect a little bit on one part of Dr. King’s dream and how far we have come toward accomplishing it.

Specifically, I refer to Dr. King’s wish that one day soon, we would live in a society in which, as he eloquently put it, people “would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” a vision that we commonly refer to as a “colorblind” society. This ideal has remained an ultimate goal for many in American society, from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. But are we there yet? How close are we to achieving that dream?

Martin Luther King Jr. © Howard Stroman

Many Americans thought that Barack Obama’s election was the culmination of Dr. King’s dream and concrete proof that we have evolved into a “post-racial,” colorblind society. Unfortunately, as I and many other sociologists and commentators have argued, even in this past year, we have seen numerous incidents that illustrate just how prevalent racial distinctions and racism still are in American society.

As another example, just recently, there was the uproar over Senator Harry Reid’s comments from the presidential campaign that Barack Obama had a good chance of being elected because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Many conservatives charged that Senator Reid’s comments were racist and that similarly due to the racist comments uttered by former Senator Trent Lott, Reid should resign. Others pointed out that conservatives were being hypocritical in pointing out this particular example of “racism” while basically ignoring other examples of racism directed toward Barack Obama over the past few years.

Similarly, others like Professor Joe Feagin point out that Harry Reid was just verbalizing an implicit reality that still operates within American society — the “backstage” racism that still exists among many White Americans who are reluctant or unwilling to vote for an African American candidate (or even any candidate of color) unless that candidate looks and acts as “White” as possible.

The point of these examples is to illustrate that in contrast to what many Americans had hoped, unfortunately we are not yet close to living in a colorblind society. While Dr. King’s dream remains the ideal, the realities of the U.S. racial/ethnic landscape are quite different.

With this in mind, I would also argue that allies and supporters of anti-racism and racial equality should accept this reality, that race is still a significant marker of differentiation in our county, rather than naively proceeding with the assumption that being colorblind is the best approach within this context.

In other words, many Whites (and other Americans of different racial/ethnic identities) try to fight back against racism by trying to be colorblind in their daily lives. They try to treat everybody they meet, interact with, or hear about, solely as an individual rather than as a member of a racial group. They genuinely believe that ignoring race is the best way to move forward toward a colorblind society. Even worse, many Americans who otherwise consider themselves “progressive” criticize people of color for “obsessing” over race and that we somehow create our own oppression by recognizing race.

While trying to be colorblind is indeed a noble and well-intended idea on the individual, interpersonal level, the problem is that the idea of colorblindness is not reinforced on the institutional level and therefore, it is just not practical given how American society continues to be racialized, as I described above, and how racism continues to largely operate independently of individual motivations. In other words, ignoring the problem will not make it go away, nor will it solve anything.

As many educators point out, if anything, trying to be colorblind only makes racism worse because people then mistakenly and naively believe that all forms of racial inequality and discrimination have been eliminated, that everybody is now on an equal playing field with equal access to all social opportunities, and that American society is a true meritocracy.

More generally, the fundamental problem is not racial differences themselves. Instead, the root of racism is that certain racial markers or characteristics have been assigned institutional value judgments of “good” versus “bad,” “normal” versus “abnormal,” and “human” versus “sub-human.” This process has led to certain racial groups being privileged and systematically advantaged over others. Or in the words of Audre Lorde, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

Ultimately, the best way for us to work toward achieving the ultimate colorblind ideal is to recognize, accept, and understand that racial distinctions still matter and that they are still the basis for continuing discrimination and inequality in American society today. Only by doing so will we move forward on achieving Dr. King’s final ideal — true racial equality.


December 22, 2009

Written by C.N.

Racial/Ethnic Relations in 2009: The Best & Worst

As we near the end of 2009, it’s fitting to review the major events, developments, and trends in U.S. racial/ethnic relations in 2009. Therefore, below is my look back at some of the positive highlights as well as the setbacks in terms of achieving racial/ethnic equality, with a particular focus on Asian Americans (my area of expertise). This list is not meant to be an exhaustive review of all racial/ethnic news in 2009, but rather the ones that I covered in this blog and ones that I believe have the most sociological significance.

The Best

The Worst

As we turn the page on 2009 and the entire decade (one that many Americans would like to forget), let’s hope that 2010 and the new decade will lead to more prosperity, equality, and harmony for Americans from all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.


December 18, 2009

Written by C.N.

New Books: Barack Obama & American Race Relations

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

A year after Barack Obama’s historic election as President of the United States of America, the following books examine the larger sociological context of his campaign and election, with a particular focus on the question of to what extent does his election signify any important change or improvement in race relations in the U.S.

Yes We Can?: White Racial Framing and the 2008 Presidential Campaign, by Adia Harvey Wingfield and Joe Feagin (Routledge)

Yes We Can, by Wingfield and Feagin

This book offers one of the first sociological analyses of Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign for the presidency of the United States. Elaborating on the concept of the white racial frame, Harvey Wingfield and Feagin assess the ways racial framing was deployed by principal characters in the 2008 election. This book counters many commonsense assumptions about race, politics, and society, particularly the idea that Obama’s election ushered in a post-racial era. Readers will find this book uniquely valuable because it relies on sound sociological analysis to assess numerous events and aspects of this historic campaign.

Barack Obama and African American Empowerment: The Rise of Black America’s New Leadership, edited by Manning Marable and Kristen Clarke (Palgrave Macmillan)

Barack Obama and African American Empowerment, edited by Marable and Clarke

Barack Obama and the African-American Empowerment examines the evolution of black leadership and politics since the Civil Rights Movement. It looks at the phenomenon of Barack Obama, from his striking emergence as a successful candidate for the Illinois State Senate to President of the United States, as part of the continuum of African American political leaders. The reader also examines the evolving ideals about the roles of government and the economy in addressing the historic disadvantages experienced by many African Americans. Here, some of the nation’s most influential intellectuals bring together original scholarship to look at the future of national politics and American race relations.

The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, by Gwen Ifill (Anchor Publishing)

The Breakthrough, by Gwen Ifill

In The Breakthrough, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential victory and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama (all interviewed for this book), and also covers numerous up-and-coming figures from across the nation.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with power brokers such as President Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, his son Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict, the race/ gender clash, and the “black enough” conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.


November 16, 2009

Written by C.N.

The U.S. and China: A Love-Hate Relationship

As all the major media organizations are reporting, President Obama is in the middle of a high-profile trip to Asia, visiting many of our major allies and trading partners, particularly China. Rather than focus specifically on the political and economic policies about which he and his Asian counterparts will speak, haggle, and disagree, I’d like to take his visit as an opportunity to focus on the love-hate relationship that the U.S. seems to have with China these days.

It is undeniable that globalization has made the economies of the U.S. and China much more intertwined and dependent on each other. One result of this trend is that when the U.S. economy is struggling (like it is these days), China has resources in terms of investing in U.S. businesses and opening up markets in China for U.S. businesses to sell to, both of which help alleviate some of those struggles. For example, and as a nice “Globalization 101″ lesson, the Washington Post has an article that uses a few examples to describe U.S. companies vying for Chinese investment:

On visits to Shanghai and Beijing, Obama will encounter not simply a rising global power but a nation that is transforming and challenging the way Americans live overseas and at home, from college classrooms to real estate offices to the ginseng farms of central Wisconsin. . . .

“Years ago, it didn’t matter what we grew. They bought everything we had,” said Randy Ross, a 54-year-old former dairy farmer who has been growing ginseng since 1978. “Now we’ve got to learn how to satisfy them. They are changing us.” . . . Hate it or love it, China is a major player in American life. . . .

Meanwhile, in a state that has lost more than 160,000 (or one-third) of its manufacturing jobs in a decade, local newspapers have been running editorials praising the People’s Republic and blasting those who oppose closer trade ties or Chinese investment. “China is a friend to Wisconsin and its businesses, not an enemy in a trade war,” the Wisconsin State Journal said in an editorial.

At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Chinese undergraduates now account for more than half of the 1,109 Chinese students there. That increase is another sign that China is coming because Wisconsin, like many state schools, doesn’t provide scholarships for international undergrads. Last year, Chinese students paid out $2 billion in tuition nationwide. “That money is keeping some American colleges alive,” said Laurie Cox, who runs the international student center at the Madison campus.

The Washington Post article lists several other ways, many just using businesses in Wisconsin as examples, that Americans and American companies have become dependent on China. In reading over these accounts, one might conclude that to a certain extent, many Americans see China as an “economic savior,” without whom they would be much worse off.

On the other hand, we can contrast those positive sentiments with other, more negative assessments and suspicions about China’s impact on the U.S. I’ve already written Americans being upset towards China for unsafe consumer products, human rights abuses, and allegations of spying and espionage.

More specifically, within this same process of China investing in U.S. companies, many Americans allege that the main reason China is doing so is to take them over and use them to eventually dominate and “take over” the U.S. economy. These suspicions were illustrated loud and clear in a CBS 60 Minutes segment from April of 2008 (entire episode is below, about 12 minutes long):

As I mentioned, these suspicions about China’s “real” intentions are opposite sides of the same coin and are great illustrations of the love-hate relationship that we Americans have with the Chinese. We love their money and their 1.3 billion consumer market, but we hate that their money might lead to them having a say in how our business is run or may eventually lead to them taking over the business completely (this is sometimes referred to as the “New Yellow Peril.”)

In fact, this kind of love-hate relationship that the American society has with Asians, Asian Americans, and Chinese Americans is not new. Starting with when the first large-scale immigration of Chinese to the U.S. in the mid-1800s, reinforced through subsequent decades, and continuing these days, these kinds of contradictory sentiments have manifested themselves in different ways.

For example, mainstream American society loved our cheap labor, how hard we work, and that (at least in the past), we were relatively powerless in asserting our rights for equal treatment. But they hated that we wanted to settle here, raise families here, and that our hard work frequently resulted in us making more money.

In the past, mainstream American society and the White majority also did not want us to freely intermingle with them — that’s why they passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and various other local and state laws that restricted where we could live, what jobs we could work in, and who we could marry. Such rampant hostility forced many of us to live in segregated ghettos as a matter of survival. But at the same time, they also criticized us for congregating in our own ethnic communities and accused us of not wanting to assimilate and to be American.

Fast forward to today and the same kind of cultural schizophrenia still exist in regard to the relationship between Asians/Asian Americans and the rest of American society and the White majority. The most visible example seems to be simultaneous hopes and fears over China’s investment in the U.S. economy. Such contradictions are also seen when Asian Americans are both praised and criticized for supposedly being the “model minority.”

Alas, this seems to be the consistent pattern in terms of the relationship between Asians/Asian Americans and the rest of American society — two steps forward, one step back.


November 6, 2009

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: November

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

  • 2008: 14 Exit Poll Statistics About Obama’s Victory
    Analyzing exit poll data and voting patterns about Barack Obama’s election victory by race, ethnicity, and other social factors.
  • 2007: New Research on Race and Genetics
    New scientific research on genetics may challenge some long-held beliefs about whether there are distinct and inherent biological differences between members of particular racial groups.
  • 2006: Health Care Costs an Issue in China Too
    A recent incident illustrating the tragic consequences of the high cost of healthcare in China highlights some potential similarities with the U.S.
  • 2005: Daniel Dae Kim: One of the Sexiest Men Alive
    People Magazine names actor Daniel Dae Kim of the ABC series Lost as one of the sexiest men alive.
  • 2004: Tragedy in Wisconsin
    The murder of several Whites by a Hmong American leads to shock, grief, tensions, and questions over whether racism on both sides played a part in the incident.

October 9, 2009

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: October

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


September 24, 2009

Written by C.N.

Miscellaneous Links #16

Here are some more announcements and links out that have come my way relating to Asians or Asian Americans. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents:

Southeast Regional Conference of Asian American Leaders

After a year interlude, SERCAAL, the Southeast Regional Conference of Asian American Leaders, returns to the University of Florida for another unforgettable conference!

SERCAAL was created with the goal of education and spreading Asian Pacific American awareness in mind. The conference is dedicated to addressing issues and topics specific to the APA community in the Southeastern region. We also encourage networking between the next generations of active leaders and hope to attract students from all kinds of backgrounds, hoping to provide an opportunity for students to learn from established leaders and activists who have all initiated change.

Our conference will be held October 9th-10th and our theme this year is “Collaborate, Challenge, Change.” The theme reflects our mission to initiate a commonality of issues pertaining to our generation and what can be done in our community today through preparation of students to take the initiative.

Please visit the SERCAAL website for more information.

Julia Luu
Public Relations Chair

Organization of Chinese Americans Citizenship Grant

The Mentored Path to Citizenship is a $675 naturalization grant to provide assistance to a qualified individual in L.A. County seeking U.S. citizenship. This one-time grant will provide financial assistance towards application fees, while also giving the recipient the opportunity to receive assistance from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center throughout the application process.

All interested individuals are asked to complete a written application which may be found below or available by calling the office at (213) 250-9888. Applicants must show proof of residency in Los Angeles County and demonstrate eligibility to become a U.S. citizen. Viable candidates will be interviewed in a confidential screening process by OCA-GLA with assistance by APALC.

For further questions, please contact OCA-GLA’s office at (213) 250-9888. Written inquiries may be sent to 1145 Wilshire Blvd., 1st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017 and emails may be directed to info@oca-gla.org. The deadline to submit applications will be September 25, 2009.

Advancing Justice Conference

The Advancing Justice Conference, being held on October 29-30, 2009 at The Center at Cathedral Plaza in Los Angeles, CA, is an inaugural national civil rights and social justice conference, expected to draw several hundred individuals from across the country.

The conference aims to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in one place to address a broad range of issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. It serves as a unique forum where researchers, advocates, direct service providers and other leaders can meet face-to-face, talk about their common challenges and find ways to work collaboratively.

Taking place over two days, the conference covers a variety of issues including: immigration reform and enforcement, immigrant integration, human rights, civil rights and national security, health care, Census 2010, redistricting, low-wage workers, hate crimes, and LGBT rights. It also includes presentations on corporate and foundation fundraising, new media, community organizing, board and commission participation, capacity building, and intergroup collaboration.

The Advancing Justice Conference is a joint project by the Asian American Institute (Chicago), Asian American Justice Center (Washington, D.C.), Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco) and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (Los Angeles). To learn more and to register, visit advancingjustice.org.

Call for Papers: Crisis and Opportunity in the Age of Obama

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for its second biannual conference, entitled Transforming Race: Crisis and Opportunity in the Age of Obama, to be held March 11-13, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio.

We seek innovative proposals that address any of three thematic tracks: Racial Dynamics and Systems Thinking; Race Talk; and Race, Recession, and Recovery. We invite practitioners, community organizers, scholars, researchers, and others to submit proposals for papers, entire panels, workshops, performances, fishbowls, and more!

Please visit our web site, http://transforming-race.org, for conference details and updates. To encourage widespread participation, please feel free to share this e-mail and attachment with your networks. Should you have any questions, contact Rebecca Reno at reno.34@osu.edu.

Download the Call for Proposals at: http://transforming-race.org/transformingrace_cfp.pdf

Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
The Ohio State University
414 Mendenhall Laboratory
125 South Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
Tel: (614) 688-5429
Fax: (614) 688-5592
Web site: http://www.kirwaninstitute.org/
Blog: http://kirwaninstitute.blogspot.com/