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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

February 20, 2012

Written by C.N.

It Was Inevitable: Racial Ignorance Against Jeremy Lin

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

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

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

But wait, there’s more.

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

'Chink in the Armor' headline on ESPN mobile website

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

Disappointing, but unfortunately not really surprising.

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

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

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

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

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

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


February 13, 2012

Written by C.N.

Jeremy Lin Mania and How It Relates to Colorblindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


February 8, 2012

Written by C.N.

Welcoming an Immigrant & Racial Minority to a New School

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

Specifically, one reader wrote to me:

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

I replied back:

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

Young Chinese student © Justin Guariglia/Corbis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


September 21, 2011

Written by C.N.

New Books: Asian Americans Connecting Past and Present

Below are some recently-released books that highlight the connections between past and present in the lives of Asian Americans. As scholars and philosophers will tell you, knowing where a particular group or nation has been is the first step towards knowing where they are going. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898-1946, by Rick Baldoz (NYU Press)

'The Third Asiatic Invasion' by Rick Baldoz

The first half of the twentieth century witnessed a wave of Filipino immigration to the United States, following in the footsteps of earlier Chinese and Japanese immigrants, the first and second “Asiatic invasions.” Perceived as alien because of their Asian ethnicity yet legally defined as American nationals granted more rights than other immigrants, Filipino American national identity was built upon the shifting sands of contradiction, ambiguity, and hostility.

Rick Baldoz explores the complex relationship between Filipinos and the U.S. by looking at the politics of immigration, race, and citizenship on both sides of the Philippine-American divide: internationally through an examination of American imperial ascendancy and domestically through an exploration of the social formation of Filipino communities in the United States. He reveals how American practices of racial exclusion repeatedly collided with the imperatives of U.S. overseas expansion. A unique portrait of the Filipino American experience, The Third Asiatic Invasion links the Filipino experience to that of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Chinese and Native Americans, among others, revealing how the politics of exclusion played out over time against different population groups.

Weaving together an impressive range of materials–including newspapers, government reports, legal documents and archival sources—into a seamless narrative, Baldoz illustrates how the quixotic status of Filipinos played a significant role in transforming the politics of race, immigration and nationality in the United States.

In Pursuit of Gold: Chinese American Miners and Merchants in the American West, by Sue Fawn Chung (University of Illinois Press)

'In Pursuit of Gold' by Sue Fawn Chung

Both a history of an overlooked community and a well-rounded reassessment of prevailing assumptions about Chinese miners in the American West, In Pursuit of Gold brings to life in rich detail the world of turn-of-the-century mining towns in the Northwest. Sue Fawn Chung meticulously recreates the lives of Chinese immigrants, miners, merchants, and others who populated these towns and interacted amicably with their white and Native American neighbors, defying the common perception of nineteenth-century Chinese communities as insular enclaves subject to increasing prejudice and violence.

While most research has focused on Chinese miners in California, this book is the first extensive study of Chinese experiences in the towns of John Day in Oregon and Tuscarora, Island Mountain, and Gold Creek in Nevada. Chung illustrates the relationships between miners and merchants within the communities and in the larger context of immigration, arguing that the leaders of the Chinese and non-Chinese communities worked together to create economic interdependence and to short-circuit many of the hostilities and tensions that plagued other mining towns.

Peppered with fascinating details about these communities from the intricacies of Chinese gambling games to the techniques of hydraulic mining, In Pursuit of Gold draws on a wealth of historical materials, including immigration records, census manuscripts, legal documents, newspapers, memoirs, and manuscript collections. Chung supplements this historical research with invaluable first-hand observations of artifacts that she experienced in archaeological digs and restoration efforts at several of the sites of the former booming mining towns.

In clear, analytical prose, Chung expertly characterizes the movement of Chinese miners into Oregon and Nevada, the heyday of their mining efforts in the region, and the decline of the communities due to changes in the mining industry. Highlighting the positive experiences and friendships many of the immigrants had in these relatively isolated mining communities, In Pursuit of Gold also suggests comparisons with the Chinese diaspora in other locations such as British Columbia and South Africa.

Prisons and Patriots: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory, by Cherstin Lyon (Temple University Press)

'Prisons and Patriots' by Cherstin Lyon

Prisons and Patriots provides a detailed account of forty-one Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans), known as the Tucsonians, who were imprisoned for resisting the draft during WWII. Cherstin Lyon parallels their courage as resisters with that of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, well known for his legal battle against curfew and internment, who also resisted the draft.

These dual stories highlight the intrinsic relationship between the rights and the obligations of citizenship, particularly salient in times of war. Lyon considers how wartime civil disobedience has been remembered through historyohow soldiers have been celebrated for their valour while resisters have been demonized as unpatriotic. Using archival research and interviews, she presents a complex picture of loyalty and conflict among first-generation Issei and Nisei.

Lyon contends that the success of the redress movement has made room for a narrative that neither reduces the wartime confinement to a source of shame nor proffers an uncritical account of heroic individuals.

Relative Histories: Mediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs, by Rocio G. Davis (University of Hawai’i Press)

'Relative Histories' by Rocio G. Davis

Relative Histories focuses on the Asian American memoir that specifically recounts the story of at least three generations of the same family. This form of auto/biography concentrates as much on other members of one’s family as on oneself, generally collapses the boundaries conventionally established between biography and autobiography, and in many cases—as Rocío G. Davis proposes for the auto/biographies of ethnic writers—crosses the frontier into history, promoting collective memory.

Davis centers on how Asian American family memoirs expand the limits and function of life writing by reclaiming history and promoting community cohesion. She argues that identity is shaped by not only the stories we have been told, but also the stories we tell, making these narratives important examples of the ways we remember our family’s past and tell our community’s story.

In the context of auto/biographical writing or filmmaking that explores specific ethnic experiences of diaspora, assimilation, and integration, this work considers two important aspects: These texts re-imagine the past by creating a work that exists both in history and as a historical document, making the creative process a form of re-enactment of the past itself. Each chapter centers on a thematic concern germane to the Asian American experience: the narrative of twentieth-century Asian wars and revolutions, which has become the subtext of a significant number of Asian American family memoirs.

Asian Refugees in America: Narratives of Escape and Adaptation, by Eleanor Herz Swent (McFarland Publishing)

'Asian Refugees in America' by Eleanor Herz Swent

When Eleanor Swent began teaching English as a Second Language in 1967 at a school for adults in Oakland, California, she soon learned that many of the Asian immigrants in her classes had remarkable tales to tell of struggles in their homelands and their efforts to make new lives in America. This oral history, based on interviews Swent conducted with her students over thirty years, documents the Asian immigrant experience as never before.

Here are the stories of desperate individuals who swam to escape from China to Macao and Hong Kong; of Chinese daughters considered worthless by their families; of political refugees from Vietnam; of ethnic Chinese who fled by boat from Vietnam; of refugees from the genocide in Cambodia. As these remarkable new Americans learn different words and customs, they also enlarge our national vision, enriching our culture while assuring us that human dignity can rise above terrible circumstances.

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History, by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton & Co.)

'Charlie Chan' by Yunte Huang

Hailed as “irrepressibly spirited and entertaining” (Pico Iyer, Time) and “a fascinating cultural survey” (Paul Devlin, Daily Beast), this provocative first biography of Charlie Chan presents American history in a way that it has never been told before. Yunte Huang ingeniously traces Charlie Chan from his real beginnings as a bullwhip-wielding detective in territorial Hawaii to his reinvention as a literary sleuth and Hollywood film icon.

Huang finally resurrects the “honorable detective” from the graveyard of detested postmodern symbols and reclaims him as the embodiment of America’s rich cultural diversity. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year and a “deeply personal . . . voyage into racial stereotyping and the humanizing force of story telling.”


May 11, 2011

Written by C.N.

Recent Books, Articles & Infographic on China & Chinese Americans

A number of recently-published books, media articles, and an infographic provide some interesting and useful information about China and Chinese Americans, summarized below:

China’s One Child Policy

Throughout the last couple of decades, there has been much discussion about China’s One Child Policy that was implemented back in the 1970s to “encourage” Chinese families from having, as the name suggests, just a single child as a way to slow China’s population growth. However, most Americans know little about the details, especially as there are increasing calls for China to change the policy. Fortunately, Good Transparencies has created an infographic that visually illustrates the main highlights of the One Child Policy (click on the thumbnail below for a larger version):

Click for full-size graphic

West Get Ready, Here Comes China 2.0

Over the past 30 years, China’s red-hot economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, reshaped the global economy and given rise to a new power on the global stage. But that breakneck growth has also created an expanding wealth gap, major environmental problems, widespread corruption, a growing imperative to innovate and popular pressure for political reforms. . . .

But as this phase of China’s economic development draws to an end, a new phase has begun. Call it China 2.0. . . . China’s leaders worry about growing too fast. Premier Wen Jiabao said in March the expansion is “unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” To address that, the next five-year plan incorporates reforms already under way and charts a roadmap designed to keep the economy from veering off the track. . . .

The goal is to keep the economy growing, spread wealth from the industrial coastal cities to inland provinces and rural areas, encourage more domestic spending, spur innovation and deliver expanded social services to sparsely populated areas that lack them.

China to Ban Eating Cats and Dogs

Eating dogs and cats–which is an age-old delicacy in China–could soon be against the law. Currently, dog and cat meat is viewed as promoting bodily warmth. But if the law passes, people who eat either animal could face fines of up to $730 or 15 days in jail. Organizations involved the practice would face fines up to 100-times as much.

“I support this proposal. Whether you judge this as a question of food security or emotions, there is absolutely no necessity in China for people to eat dogs and cats,” said Zeng Li, the founder of the Lucky Cats shelter in Beijing. . . . The law has been in the draft stage for over a year and will be submitted to higher authorities come April. But draft legislation can take years to approve. . . .

The economic impact of this law would be small as China’s affluent don’t partake in the delicacy. In fact, such traditions have received much scrutiny from affluent, pet-loving, urban middle class. And online petitions against dog and cat consumption have attracted tens of thousands of signatures.

China is Not Taking Over the World

Every week a new book title announces an “irresistible” tilt east, the emergence of “Chimerica” and a not-too-distant future when China “rules” the planet. The mainstream media, and especially the business press, are gripped by the narrative of China taking over the world. . . .

But the coverage of China’s global inroads has been profoundly short on context, particularly when it comes to how China is—and is not—surpassing the U.S. as a global power. There are plenty of stories of a Chinese-sponsored infrastructure project or a Chinese company cutting a deal to feed its “insatiable thirst” for raw materials, while Western involvement of similar or greater magnitude is lucky to make a headline at all.

Meanwhile, a close look at the key economic metrics and the subtler shades of power, such as cultural influence and humanitarian aid, reveals that while China is indeed one of the great powers in the world now (late last month it officially overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy), its influence is mixed, and often undercut by America’s.

Not Much Progress in America’s Chinese Problem

Cutting-edge programs like those at the immersion charter school Yu Ying in Washington, D.C., and reports of Chinese-language courses popping up in heartland America would all seem to suggest that Americans are on the fast track to learning Chinese—and ultimately understanding China. . . . You’ll be hard-pressed, the reasoning goes, to find anyone who doesn’t think grasping the language of the world’s fastest-growing economy is a good idea.

But the sad fact is that Americans are not learning Mandarin, the main tongue spoken in mainland China, in droves. Just take a look at the numbers. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, in 2008 only 4 percent of middle and high schools that offer foreign-language instruction included Mandarin. That’s up from 1 percent in 1997.

While that initially seems like respectable growth, the same survey reveals that 13 percent of schools still offer Latin and a full 10-fold more schools offer French than Mandarin. How is it that one a dead language and the other a language primarily used to impress your dinner companion can trounce one spoken by 1.3 billion natives and many millions more expats and immigrants abroad?

Stop Blaming China For America’s Woes

The US administration seems to be trying to convince its public of another untruth: that China is the true cause of America’s economic woes — and that China possesses “weapons of mass economic destruction.” What is that weapon of mass economic destruction? The humble yuan, which the US says has been manipulated to hurt the American economy. . . .

Economist Paul Krugman recently said China’s trade surplus with the US had grown in the past decade even without the yuan rising sufficiently against the dollar. Before America’s economic 9/11, however, its consumers seemed happy to get affordable Chinese goods year after year and its businesspeople were busy making profits from lucrative partnerships with Chinese companies. . . .

China’s stimulus for its economy has created opportunities for Western countries’ exports, too. . . . China would readily buy more advanced technologies from America, but Washington is reluctant to sell them. . . . . Hopefully, [Americans] will see through their politicians’ desperate attempt to shift the blame for the country’s problems to China in order to cover their own failures.

Bogus Chinese American Militia Marched in Parades

U.S. Army veteran Joaquin Lim sensed something was amiss with the troop that had popped up at civic events in Southern California’s Chinese-American communities. At a flag raising ceremony honoring a Chinese holiday, the Walnut city councilman stopped one of the recruits and asked to see his military ID. “There were actually typos on the ID card,” Lim said. “Right away, I knew something was wrong.”

Those suspicions came into the spotlight Tuesday when authorities arrested the so-called “supreme commander” of the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit and charged him with duping Chinese immigrants into thinking they had truly enlisted in the American armed forces.

Prosecutors say Yupeng Deng, 51, recruited 100 other Chinese immigrants . . . at the cost of several hundred dollars, to help improve their chances of obtaining green cards and U.S. citizenship. . . . The case — which was investigated by the FBI and Department of Defense — highlights the vulnerability of immigrants desperately seeking to belong in a new country and naive to the norms of a society in which, for example, military recruits don’t pay to enlist.

Why Indian and Chinese Entrepreneurs are Leaving America

skilled immigrants are leaving the U.S. in droves. This is because of economic opportunities in countries like India and China, a desire to be closer to family and friends, and a deeply flawed U.S immigration system. It doesn’t matter whether we call this “brain drain” or “brain circulation”– it is a loss for America. Innovation that would otherwise be happening here is going abroad. . . .

Surprisingly, 72% of Indian and 81% of Chinese returnees said that the opportunities to start their own businesses were better or much better in their home countries. Speed of professional growth was also better back home for the majority of Indian (54%) and Chinese (68 percent) entrepreneurs. And the quality of life was better or at least equal to what they’d enjoyed in the United States for 56% of Indian and 59% of Chinese returnees.

The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, by Patrick Radden Keefe (Anchor Publishing)

'The Snakehead' by Keefe

In the 1980s, a wave of Chinese from Fujian province began arriving in America. Like other immigrant groups before them, they showed up with little money but with an intense work ethic and an unshakeable belief in the promise of the United States. Many of them lived in a world outside the law, working in a shadow economy overseen by the ruthless gangs that ruled the narrow streets of New York’s Chinatown.

The figure who came to dominate this Chinese underworld was a middle-aged grandmother known as Sister Ping. Her path to the American dream began with an unusual business run out of a tiny noodle store on Hester Street. From her perch above the shop, Sister Ping ran a full-service underground bank for illegal Chinese immigrants. But her real business—a business that earned an estimated $40 million—was smuggling people.

As a “snakehead,” she built a complex—and often vicious—global conglomerate, relying heavily on familial ties, and employing one of Chinatown’s most violent gangs to protect her power and profits. Based on hundreds of interviews, Patrick Radden Keefe’s sweeping narrative tells the story not only of Sister Ping, but of the gangland gunslingers who worked for her, the immigration and law enforcement officials who pursued her, and the generation of penniless immigrants who risked death and braved a 17,000 mile odyssey so that they could realize their own version of the American dream.

Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, by Lan Dong (Temple University Press)

'Mulan's Legacy' by Lan Dong

Mulan, the warrior maiden who performed heroic deeds in battle while dressed as a male soldier, has had many incarnations from her first appearance as a heroine in an ancient Chinese folk ballad. Mulan’s story was retold for centuries, extolling the filial virtue of the young woman who placed her father’s honor and well-being above her own. With the publication of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior in the late 1970s, Mulan first became familiar to American audiences who were fascinated with the extraordinary Asian American character. Mulan’s story was recast yet again in the popular 1998 animated Disney film and its sequel.

In Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, Lan Dong traces the development of this popular icon and asks, “Who is the real Mulan?” and “What does authenticity mean for the critic looking at this story?” Dong charts this character’s literary voyage across historical and geographical borders, discussing the narratives and images of Mulan over a long time span—from premodern China to the contemporary United States to Mulan’s counter-migration back to her homeland.

As Dong shows, Mulan has been reinvented repeatedly in both China and the United States so that her character represents different agendas in each retelling—especially after she reached the western hemisphere. The dutiful and loyal daughter, the fierce, pregnant warrior, and the feisty teenaged heroine—each is Mulan representing an idea about female virtue at a particular time and place.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, by John Soennichsen (Greenwood Publishing)

'Chinese Exclusion Act' by Soennichsen

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a historic act of legislation that demonstrated how the federal government of the United States once openly condoned racial discrimination. Once the Exclusion Act passed, the door was opened to further limitation of Asians in America during the late 19th century, such as the Scott Act of 1888 and the Geary Act of 1892, and increased hatred towards and violence against Chinese people based on the misguided belief they were to blame for depressed wage levels and unemployment among Caucasians.

This title traces the complete evolution of the Exclusion Act, including the history of Chinese immigration to the United States, the factors that served to increase their populations here, and the subsequent efforts to limit further immigration and encourage the departure of the Chinese already in America.


October 25, 2010

Written by C.N.

Links & Announcements #32

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.

Essay Writer Needed: Vietnamese Student Studying in U.S.

My name is Veronica Majerol and I am an editor of the New York Times Upfront, a newsmagazine that is ready by almost a million teens across the U.S. One of the columns I edit is called “Voices,” in which we aim to publish an essay written by a teen (15 to 19 years old) who can share a personal experience that also sheds light on a larger global or national issue.

Right now, we are looking to publish an essay written by a teen from Vietnam who is studying in the U.S. We are interested in hearing about the student’s reflections on the war in Vietnam and America’s part in it (based on what the student has learned about it, since he/she would have been born well after the war) versus his/her feelings about the U.S. today and relations between the two countries.

Though we cannot guarantee that any one submission would be published, if a first draft looks promising, I would work with the student (via phone, email) through multiple drafts till it is ready for publication. The student would also be paid $100 if the piece is published, and it would be a great resume builder. I would love to know about possible candidates at your earliest convenience. I would need to have a brief phone chat with interested candidates before they start writing so I can explain the exact parameters of the essay.

Thank you in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you both.

Veronica Majerol
New York Times Upfront
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012
212-343-4752

East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Graduate Fellowships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI) is a flagship international fellowship program for developing the next generation of globally engaged U.S. scientists and engineers knowledgeable about the Asian and Pacific regions. The Summer Institutes are hosted by foreign counterparts committed to increasing opportunities for young U.S. researchers to work in research facilities and with host mentors abroad.

Fellows are supported to participate in eight-week research experiences at host laboratories in Australia, China, Japan (10 weeks), Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan from June to August. The program provides a $5,000 summer stipend, round-trip airfare to the host location, living expenses abroad, and an introduction to the society, culture, language, and research environment of the host location.

The 2011 application is now open and will close at 5:00 pm local time on November 10, 2010. Application instructions and information concerning benefits, eligibility, and tips on applying are available online at www.nsfsi.org.

NSF recognizes the importance of enabling U.S. researchers and educators to advance their work through international collaborations and the value of ensuring that future generations of U.S. scientists and engineers gain professional experience beyond this nation’s borders early in their careers. The program is intended for U.S. graduate students pursuing studies in fields supported by the National Science Foundation. Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply for the EAPSI.

Applicants must be enrolled in a research-oriented master’s or PhD program and be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents by the application deadline date. Students in combined bachelor/master degree programs must have matriculated from the undergraduate degree program by the application deadline date.

The first Summer Institutes began in Japan in 1990, and to date over 2,000 U.S. graduate students have participated in the program. Should you have any questions, please contact the EAPSI Help Desk by email at eapsi@nsfsi.org or by phone at 1-866-501-2922.

ETS Fellowship and Internship Programs

The goal of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Research & Development (R&D) Fellowship and Internship programs is to promote quality and distinction in educational measurement and related fields through support of significant research by early-career scientists and graduate students and exposure to methodologies within the ETS environment.

These programs provide opportunities for talented scholars and students from diverse backgrounds – especially traditionally underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians – to pursue scientific research under the guidance of ETS senior scientists and psychometricians. These programs encourage research in areas such as educational measurement, psychometrics, validity, natural language processing and computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, learning theory, linguistics, speech recognition and processing, teaching and classroom research, statistics, international large scale assessments, and assessment design and development.

Summer Internship Program in Research for Graduate Students
Selected interns participate in research projects under the guidance of ETS mentors in Princeton, NJ. Graduate students who are currently enrolled in a full-time doctoral program in one of the areas listed above and who have completed a minimum of two years of coursework toward their PhD or EdD prior to the program start date are eligible to apply. The deadline for applying for the summer internship program is February 1, 2011.

Harold Gulliksen Psychometric Research Fellowship Program
During the academic year selected fellows study at their universities and carry out research under the supervision of an academic mentor and in consultation with an ETS research scientist. During the summer, fellows are invited to participate in the Summer Internship Program for Graduate Students working under the guidance of an ETS researcher. The program is open to applicants who are enrolled in a doctoral program in psychometrics or statistics, have completed their course work toward the PhD, and are at the dissertation stage. The deadlines for applying for the Harold Gulliksen program are December 1, 2010 for the preliminary application materials and February 1, 2011 for the final application materials.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
Selected fellows conduct research under the mentorship of ETS senior researchers in Princeton, NJ. The program is open to early-career scholars who hold a PhD or an EdD in one of the areas listed above. The deadlines for applying for the postdoctoral fellowship programs are January 1, 2011 for the preliminary application materials and March 1, 2011 for the final application materials.

Sylvia Taylor Johnson Minority Fellowship in Educational Measurement
Selected fellows conduct research under the mentorship of ETS senior researchers in Princeton, NJ. The program is open to candidates who have received their PhD or EdD within the past ten years in one of the areas listed above and who are US citizens or permanent residents.

To Apply and For More Information:
The application process for 2011 will open on November 1, 2010. No applications will be accepted prior to this date. Apply online at the ETS Fellowship and Internship Programs Website. Contacts: E-mail: internfellowships@ets.org, Phone: (609) 734-5543.

Call for Papers: Sociologists in Action

Thanks to your positive responses, we are moving ahead with a special journal issue of Theory in Action highlighting Sociologists in Action (SIA) and public sociology with the permission of Sage/Pine Forge! The issue will include 3 pieces from SIA that the editors Kathleen Odell Korgen, Jonathan White, and Shelley Michelle White have selected and a number of new manuscripts by those of you who wish to participate.

If you, a colleague, or graduate student have a new manuscript (different from SIA) that you think will be appropriate for this special issue please go to the following link to submit it: http://www.transformativestudies.org/publications/theory-in-action-the-journal-of-tsi/submissions-2/

In your “Abstract” file type “For the SIA special edition” — don’t forget to include keywords for the manuscript. This way your manuscript will make it to my desk as I will be personally involved. Due date for submissions: December 1, 2010. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly and once more thank you for your interest and support.

Best to all,

Dr. John Asimakopoulos
Associate Professor of Sociology
City University of New York
Executive Director & Editor in Chief
Transformative Studies Institute -Theory in Action
39-09 Berdan Avenue
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410 USA
www.transformativestudies.org
jasimakopoulos@transformativestudies.org

International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas Conference

The International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO) and the Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong are organizing an international conference on Chinese Overseas: Religions and Worldview. Scholars and researchers interested in presenting papers or organizing conference panels on religions, worldview and philosophy in relation to the Chinese overseas are welcome to participate in this conference. Details are as follows.

Conference theme: Chinese Overseas: Religions and Worldview

Rationale: While various aspects of the history and cultural life of the Chinese overseas (Chinese diasporas) have been well studied, their religious life and worldview have not been systematically studied. For instance, we know very little about the religious life of the Chinese in Latin America, and for that matter in North America and Europe. Living in multicultural environments, the Chinese overseas are participants of many religions: Chinese popular religion, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai and others. In fact some aspects of the Chinese popular religions as practiced in different societies have also been localized as a result of interacting with the non-Chinese cultural and religious practices. This conference will provide a forum for discussing the religious life and worldview (including, for example, Confucianism) of the Chinese overseas.

Venue: The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Shatin, NT, Hong Kong
Date: June 21-22, 2011
Title and abstract deadline: 31 December 2010
Panel proposals deadline: 31 December 2010. [For panel presentations, paper titles and abstracts should be sent via the panel chair]
Registration fee: US $90 for ISSCO members
US $100 for non-members

Accommodation: Two types of accommodation will be arranged: (a) student hostels; (b) hotels near CUHK (depending on hotels, the price per night ranges from USD $80 to $130 per night). Details will be supplied later. Conference secretariat (contact persons): Dr. TAN Chee-Beng (cbtan@cuhk.edu.hk) and Dr. WU Keping (kepingwu@cuhk.edu.hk).


July 31, 2009

Written by C.N.

Online Survey: Career Decisions by Chinese Americans

Below is another announcement about an online survey in need of Chinese American respondents:

Greetings. My name is William Nguyen, MA and I am a Ph. D Candidate at Alliant International University: CSPP. I am conducting a study that explores the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of Chinese American-identified undergraduate students attending a 2 or 4 year college/university in regards to their career decision-making process. I believe that the career theories currently in the literature fail to fully capture the Asian American experience and often neglect key facets of who we are: our culture, our experiences of acculturation, and the influence of honor and family.

If you are interested in participating, you will complete a 20 – 30 minute survey that asks you a myriad of questions related to your career decision-making process. All responses and identifying information will be kept confidential. As incentive for your participation, all participants that provide contact information will be entered in a raffle for either a $75, $50, or $25 gift card to Gap, Inc. (or any other department store of choice).

Should you have any questions about the research please contact: William Nguyen at wnguyen@alliant.edu. If you would like to participate, please click go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=DQKGz8ZQQ58Uuyq4aROxvA_3d_3d. Also, if you are interested in receiving results to this study, please contact William Nguyen with that request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

In Peace,

William W. Nguyen, MA, Ph. D Candidate
Alliant International University: California School of Professional Psychology
San Francisco, CA


August 11, 2008

Written by C.N.

What the Olympics Mean to Chinese Americans

Much has been written and said about China hosting the Summer Olympics and much controversy has been associated with the games based on China’s record on many issues. But little has been said or written about how Chinese Americans see China and its hosting of the Olympics.

With that in mind, the New York Times reports that many Chinese Americans have mixed feelings about China and the communist government’s policies, but that almost universally, they are very proud of, and even overwhelmed, by the Chinese people, how they have put the games together, and what the Olympics mean in general for the country:

Joe Lam . . . who moved to New York 35 years ago from Hong Kong, said he watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics twice on Friday night, the second time with his daughters — ages 18 and 22 — who he said had little overt connection to Asia.

But watching the spectacle, with its blend of China’s ancient grandeur and dazzling modern technology, “was like a religious experience for them,” he said.

Mr. Lam said he was not a fan of the Communist Party, but, like many others, he noted the history that makes these Olympics resonate so deeply: 150 years of invasions and turmoil, from the Opium Wars to the Japanese invasion, civil war and the disastrous policies of Mao, which left China far behind the West.

“Our joy is not for Communists,” Mr. Lam said. “It’s for what hosting the Olympics means to the history of the Chinese people.” . . .

Several Chinese-American leaders also said they thought that the respect China gained from the Olympics would improve the status of Chinese here. Helen Zia, a human rights advocate, author and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, said she surprised herself and many friends when she agreed to carry the Olympic torch in what turned out to be a contentious leg in San Francisco.

She did so in part, she said, because she believes that engagement with the West is helping to liberalize China. But she added: “All those years of China’s humiliation carried over to America, where Chinese kids grew up being taunted and bullied on the playground. Now when we see the home country shown in a positive light, we hope Americans will understand better where Chinese-Americans come from.”

Regardless of where people stand in terms of supporting or criticizing China on various issues, I think there are very few people out there who can honestly dispute that, as one example, the opening ceremonies were one of the most lavish and spectacular displays of human art, choreography, and pageantry in recent history. The work of director Zhang Yimou and his team of 15,000 performers has to go down in the record books as simply, absolutely awesome.

But even more important, beyond the political issues that are inevitably present, China’s hosting of the Olympics does have some very real significance, although I do not see it as China’s “coming out party” as many have described it. Instead, we should remember that prior to the late 1800s, in many ways China was already a superpower and as the NBC commentators even noted during the opening ceremonies, for nine of the past ten centuries, China had the largest economy in the entire world.

It was only after Britain’s colonization in the late 1800s and Japan’s invasion in the 1930s did China acquire the unfortunate nickname of the “sick man” of Asia. But even after the turmoil associated with Mao’s policies, China has rebuilt itself and in a very short amount of time, has become the third-largest economy in the world and in many ways, the most important political, economic, and cultural player on the international stage in the 21st century.

With that in mind, as the NY Times article described, China’s (re)emergence is likely to have some effect on how Chinese Americans are perceived. I certainly hope that as Helen Zia noted, it will improve the image and acceptance of Chinese Americans into mainstream American society.

On the other hand, I can also see how it might hurt Chinese Americans if other Americans see China’s emergence as a threat (along with the effects of globalization in general) and become defensive and as a result, take their frustrations out on Chinese Americans (and by implication, all Asian Americans).

Nonetheless, regardless of what other Americans may think, Chinese Americans and all Asian Americans have a right to feel proud of what China has accomplished. Yes, there are still many issues on which China should be criticized. But everything has a time and a place.

Right now, China is showing the world just how glorious, spectacular, and powerful it can be when it focuses its efforts in a constructive way. I, for one, am very impressed.