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.
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.
Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.
AAPI Nexus Journal: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Policy, Practice and Community
Call for Papers: Special Issue on AAPIs and the Environment
AAPI Nexus is pleased to announce a forthcoming special issue that will examine critical theoretical, policy and practical issues related to AAPIs (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) and the environment. Despite the tremendous growth in the literature in these two fields, few studies examine their intersection. The goal of the special issue is to fill this gap. For this publication, the environment is broadly defined to include the nexus between people and natural resources (including urban and rural contexts), environmentalism, and environmental justice (e.g., environmental justice movements, policy, organizations, communities, etc). The journal is interested in impacts on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, attitudes and opinions, collective action and agency, and studies at the local, regional or state-wide, national and global scales.
AAPI Nexus seeks submissions that as a collection enable the readers to look at issues through multi-disciplinary and comparative lenses. Our objective is to share information and insights to enhance the ability to take action in the areas of advocacy, strategic planning, policy development and programming.
Professor Paul M. Ong (University of California, Los Angeles), Professor Julie Sze (University of California, Davis) and Charles Lee (Deputy Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice , U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) are the consulting Guest Editors working with the editorial staff on this volume. The following are examples of possible articles:
Cultural influences on environmental attitudes and behavior
Political and civic engagement in the environmental arena broadly defined
Individual and collective action and agency
Differential environmental exposures, risk and impacts (or environmental inequalities)
Differential outcomes from environmental policies and programs
Smart, sustainable and equitable growth
The list is illustrative rather than comprehensive. We are interested in other topics as they are related to AAPIs, as well as new and innovative ways to conceptualize the linkage, relationality and intersectionality between AAPIs and the environment.
We encourage paper submissions that highlight perspectives of practitioners, academic researchers, and applied policy analysts. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript, please send or email a letter of intent with the title and a very short descriptive paragraph or abstract of the proposed paper to the editors for review. If you have a prepared paper, you may also submit the paper at the same time. For submission guidelines, please visit and click on Style Sheets for Article Submissions (PDF Document).
AAPI Nexus is a peer-reviewed, national journal published by UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center focusing on policies, practices and community research to benefit the nation’s burgeoning Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The journal’s mission is to facilitate an exchange of ideas and research findings that strengthens the efforts through policy and practice to tackle the pressing societal problems facing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Since the inception of ethnic studies, the goal of “serving and mobilizing the community” has been at the heart of Asian American Studies and Pacific Islander Studies. Previous issues have focused on Community Development, Education, and Immigration.
Deadline for Letter of Intent: Monday, July 9, 2012.
Deadline for Manuscript Submissions: Monday, September 10, 2012.
Earlier submission of a Letter or Manuscript is encouraged. Internet communication is preferred. Please address to Managing Editor Melany De La Cruz-Viesca and send to AAPI Nexus Journal at:
Melany De La Cruz-Viesca (email@example.com)
and send an electronic copy to:
Senior Editor Professor Marjorie Kagawa-Singer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Guest Editor Professor Paul M. Ong (email@example.com)
Guest Editor Professor Julie Sze (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Guest Editor Charles Lee (Lee.Charles@epamail.epa.gov)
For regular mail, send all correspondence to:
Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, Managing Editor
AAPI Nexus Journal
UCLA Asian American Studies Center
3230 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546
We are pleased to share information on the application process for the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs. Please help us widely distribute information on the two fellowship programs to qualified candidates, listservs and other electronic sources by using the paragraphs below. Thank you for your assistance.
The National Academy of Education (NAEd) invites applicants for the following fellowship programs:
National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program
The NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professional fields to undertake research relevant to the improvement of education. These $25,000 fellowships support individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world. Fellows will also attend professional development retreats and receive mentorship from NAEd members and other senior scholars in their field. This highly competitive program aims to identify the most talented emerging researchers conducting dissertation research related to education. The Dissertation Fellowship program receives many more applications than it can fund. This year, up to 600 applications are anticipated and about 25 fellowships will be awarded. Additional guidelines and the fellowship application form will be available on our website later this summer.
National Academy of Education /Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
The NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports early-career scholars working in critical areas of educational scholarship. Fellows will receive $55,000 for one academic year of research, or $27,500 for each of two contiguous years, working half time. Fellows will also attend professional development retreats and receive mentorship from NAEd members and other senior scholars in their field. Applicants must have had their PhD, EdD, or equivalent research degree conferred between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2012. This fellowship is non-residential, and applications from all disciplines are encouraged. Up to twenty NAEd/Spencer Fellowships will be awarded. Additional guidelines and the fellowship application form will be available on our website later this summer.
Philip Perrin, Program Officer – Professional Development Programs
The National Academy of Education greatly appreciates support and funding from the Spencer Foundation to provide and administer these fellowship programs.
National Academy of Education
500 5th St, NW #308
Washington, DC 20001
As a sociologist, I rely heavily on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS provides thousands of researchers like me comprehensive annual demographic and socioeconomic data about the U.S. population. In fact, almost all the data and statistics that are presented in this site is derived from the ACS. Unfortunately, Congress is considering eliminating funding for the ACS. Below is an announcement about efforts to help save funding so that the ACS can continue to benefit researchers like me and our society as a whole.
At the beginning of May, there were two attacks on funding for social science research in the House of Representatives.
First, the House voted to prohibit the National Science Foundation (NSF) from funding Political Science research – on important issues such as how countries transition to democracy, or the causes of terrorism. The American Journal of Political Science has published a free virtual issue that showcases articles that use NSF funded data. We urge you to contact your Senators and ask them to continue NSF funding for Political Science research.
Second, the House voted to eliminate funding for the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS asks questions that the Census has used for centuries, and the data is used to help the government distribute more than $800 million in Federal assistance. People may have different perspectives on the questions, but policy decisions are better if they are informed by data. Please send letters/emails to your Senators asking that the ACS not be eliminated.
Please forward this information to colleagues so they can get involved. Detailed information on both of these issues including letters of support from academic organizations and a selection of articles in the press are available at www.mpsanet.org.
Call for Papers: Asian Americans and Culture
The editors of East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture are seeking contributions to a new collection on Asian American culture within a transnational context. We welcome proposals for original essays that address Asian American experience or representation in popular culture (both current and historical).
In addition to work on media, literature, music, games and digital culture, fashion, consumption and popular practices in and outside the Americas, we encourage submissions that engage with science and technology, sexuality, racial identity, legal studies, sports, politics, and production/industry studies.
Please send a 900-1200 word abstract to the editors (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,) by August 1, 2012.
Position: Assistant Professor, New College of Florida
New College of Florida, a small residential, highly selective liberal arts college, invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professorship beginning in August 2013. PhD expected by that time. Candidates should be able to demonstrate excellence, or potential for excellence, in teaching. Preference will be given to candidates whose teaching and research interests complement and enhance our existing strengths. We are especially interested in candidates with substantial expertise on race and ethnicity and whose research and teaching employs a social psychological perspective, broadly defined.
New College is committed to excellence in teaching and research, and encourages collaborative student-faculty scholarship. Students are intellectually independent and research-oriented. Teaching load is two courses per semester, plus individualized tutorials and supervision of
senior thesis projects.
Interested candidates should send a letter of application, Curriculum Vitae, a statement of teaching philosophy and research interests, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation to David Brain, New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Drive, Sarasota, FL 34243-2197. Screening of applicants will begin October 1, 2012, and will continue until the position is filled. Individuals with the ability to contribute in meaningful ways to the college’s continuing commitment to cultural and gender diversity, pluralism and individual difference are encouraged to apply.
Consistent with law and New College’s respect for personal dignity, the college does not discriminate between applicants for employment based on race, nationality, religion, age, disability, gender expression, gender identity, veteran status, marital status, or sexual orientation. According to Florida law, applications and meetings regarding applications are open to the public. Applicants who need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in the selection process must notify the College five days in advance.
The following new books look at the historical, cultural, and political dimensions of how Asian Americans have been portrayed and imagined in media, literature, and popular culture. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.
Images of upraised fists, afros, and dashikis have long dominated the collective memory of Black Power and its proponents. The “guerilla” figure-taking the form of the black-leather-clad revolutionary within the Black Panther Party-has become an iconic trope in American popular culture. That politically radical figure, however, has been shaped as much by Asian American cultural discourse as by African American political ideology. From the Asian-African Conference held in April of 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia, onward to the present, Afro-Asian political collaboration has been active and influential.
In Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities, author Rychetta Watkins uses the guerilla figure as a point of departure and shows how the trope’s rhetoric animates discourses of representation and identity in African American and Asian American literature and culture. In doing so, she examines the notion of “Power,” in terms of ethnic political identity, and explores collaborating-and sometimes competing-ethnic interests that have drawn ideas from the concept.
The project brings together a range of texts-editorial cartoons, newspaper articles, novels, visual propaganda, and essays-that illustrate the emergence of this subjectivity in Asian American and African American cultural productions during the Power period, roughly 1966 through 1981. After a case study of the cultural politics of academic anthologies and the cooperation between Frank Chin and Ishmael Reed, the volume culminates with analyses of this trope in Sam Greenlee’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Alice Walker’s Meridian, and John Okada’s No No Boy.
The Oriental Obscene is a sophisticated analysis of Americans’ reactions to visual representations of the Vietnam War, such as the photograph of the “napalm girl,” news footage of the Tet Offensive, and feature films from The Deer Hunter to Rambo: First Blood Part II. Sylvia Shin Huey Chong combines psychoanalytic and film theories with U.S. cultural history to explain what she terms the oriental obscene: racialized fantasies that Americans derived largely from images of Asians as the perpetrators or victims of extreme violence.
Chong contends that these fantasies helped Americans to process the trauma of the Vietnam War, as well as the growth of the Asian American population after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and the postwar immigration of Southeast Asian refugees. The oriental obscene animated a wide range of political narratives, not only the movements for and against the war, but causes as diverse as the Black Power movement, law-and-order conservatism, second-wave feminism, and the nascent Asian American movement. During the Vietnam era, pictures of Asian bodies were used to make sense of race, violence, and America’s identity at home and abroad.
Showcasing the dynamism of contemporary Korean diasporic theater, this anthology features seven plays by second-generation Korean diasporic writers from the United States, Canada, and Chile. By bringing the plays together in this collection, Esther Kim Lee highlights the range of themes and styles that have enlivened Korean diasporic theater in the Americas since the 1990s. Some of the plays are set in urban Koreatowns. One takes place in the middle of Texas, while another unfolds entirely in a character’s mind. Ethnic identity is not as central as it was in the work of previous generations of Asian diasporic playwrights.
In these plays, dramas of diaspora and displacement are likely to be part of broader stories, such as the difficulties faced by a young mother trying to balance family and career. Running through those stories are themes of assimilation, authenticity, family, memory, trauma, and gender-related expectations of success. Lee’s introduction includes a brief history of the Korean peninsula in the twentieth century and of South Korean immigration to the Americas, along with an overview of Asian American theater and the place of Korean American theater within it. Each play is preceded by a brief biography of the playwright and a summary of the play’s production history.
The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens looks at the way in which issues of race and sexuality have become central concerns in cinema generated by and about Chinese communities in America after the mid-1990s. This companion volume to Marchetti’s From Tian’anmen to Times Square looks specifically at the Chinese diaspora in relation to ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual identity as depicted in the cinema.
Examining films from the United States and Canada, as well as transnational co-productions, The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens includes analyses of films such as The Wedding Banquet and Double Happiness in addition to interviews with celebrated filmmakers such as Wayne Wang. Marchetti also reflects on how Chinese identity is presented in a multitude of media forms, including commercial cinema, documentaries, experimental films, and hybrid digital media to offer a textured look at representations of the Chinese diasporic experience after Tian’anmen.
Depictions of Asian American men as effeminate or asexual pervade popular movies. Hollywood has made clear that Asian American men lack the qualities inherent to the heroic heterosexual male. This restricting, circumscribed vision of masculinity—a straitjacketing, according to author Celine Parreñas Shimizu—aggravates Asian American male sexual problems both on and off screen.
Straitjacket Sexualities: Unbinding Asian American Manhoods in the Movies looks to cinematic history to reveal the dynamic ways Asian American men, from Bruce Lee to Long Duk Dong, create and claim a variety of masculinities. Representations of love, romance, desire, and lovemaking show how Asian American men fashion manhoods that negotiate the dynamics of self and other, expanding our ideas of sexuality. The unique ways in which Asian American men express intimacy is powerfully represented onscreen, offering distinct portraits of individuals struggling with group identities. Rejecting “macho” men, these movies stake Asian American manhood on the notion of caring for, rather than dominating, others.
Straitjacket Sexualities identifies a number of moments in the movies wherein masculinity is figured anew. By looking at intimate relations on screen, power as sexual prowess and brute masculinity is redefined, giving primacy to the diverse ways Asian American men experience complex, ambiguous, and ambivalent genders and sexualities.
Below are a few more recently-released books that highlight Asian Americans, immigration, and/or other racial/ethnic groups along a variety of historical and contemporary sociological issues. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.
These new titles explore various dimensions of cultural assimilation among Asian Americans and illustrate different ways in which Asian Americans are integrated into the rest of U.S. society and its institutions.
The 1965 Immigration Act altered the lives and outlook of Chinese Americans in fundamental ways. The New Chinese America explores the historical, economic, and social foundations of the Chinese American community, in order to reveal the emergence of a new social hierarchy after 1965. In this detailed and comprehensive study of contemporary Chinese America, Xiaojian Zhao uses class analysis to illuminate the difficulties of everyday survival for poor and undocumented immigrants and analyzes the process through which social mobility occurs.
Through ethnic ties, Chinese Americans have built an economy of their own in which entrepreneurs can maintain a competitive edge given their access to low-cost labor; workers who are shut out of the mainstream job market can find work and make a living; and consumers can enjoy high quality services at a great bargain. While the growth of the ethnic economy enhances ethnic bonds by increasing mutual dependencies among different groups of Chinese Americans, it also determines the limits of possibility for various individuals depending on their socioeconomic and immigration status.
Fob (noun)-derived from the acronym F.O.B. (“Fresh off the Boat”). Does your mom still make Peking duck instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, own a giant cleaver, or take twenty-four more napkins than she needs at Chipotle? Your mom may be a fob.
Through their hit blog “My Mom Is a Fob,” Teresa and Serena Wu have seized ownership of this formerly derogatory term, applying it instead to the heartfelt, hilarious, and thoroughly unique ways that Asian mothers adapt to American culture, from the perspective of those who love them most: their children. Through texts, emails, phone calls, and more, My Mom Is a Fob showcases the stories of a community of Asian-American kids who know exactly what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that amazing, unconditional, and sometimes misspelled love.
It’s about those Asian mothers who refuse to get in the car without their sun-protective arm sheaths, the ones who send us passive-aggressive text messages “from the dog” in hopes that we’ll call home, and email us unsolicited advice about everything from homosexuality to constipation. In these pages you’ll find solace in the fact that thousands of moms out there are as painfully nosy, unintentionally hilarious, and endearingly fobby as yours is.
Since the 1990s, young Asian Americans including Doo-Ri Chung, Derek Lam, Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu have emerged as leading fashion designers. They have won prestigious awards, been chosen to head major clothing labels, and had their designs featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other fashion magazines. At the same time that these designers were rising to prominence, the fashion world was embracing Asian chic. During the 1990s, “Asian” shapes, fabrics, iconography, and colors filled couture runways and mass-market clothing racks.
In The Beautiful Generation, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu explores the role of Asian American designers in New York’s fashion industry, paying particular attention to how they relate to the garment workers who produce their goods and to Asianness as a fashionable commodity. She draws on conversations with design students, fashion curators, and fashion publicists; interviews with nearly thirty Asian American designers who have their own labels; and time spent with those designers in their shops and studios, on their factory visits, and at their fashion shows. The Beautiful Generation links the rise of Asian American designers to historical patterns of immigration, racial formation, and globalized labor, and to familial and family-like connections between designers and garment workers.
Helen Heran Jun explores how the history of U.S. citizenship has positioned Asian Americans and African Americans in interlocking socio-political relationships since the mid nineteenth century. Rejecting the conventional emphasis on ‘inter-racial prejudice,’ Jun demonstrates how a politics of inclusion has constituted a racial Other within Asian American and African American discourses of national identity.
Race for Citizenship examines three salient moments when African American and Asian American citizenship become acutely visible as related crises: the ‘Negro Problem’ and the ‘Yellow Question’ in the mid- to late 19th century; World War II-era questions around race, loyalty, and national identity in the context of internment and Jim Crow segregation; and post-Civil Rights discourses of disenfranchisement and national belonging under globalization.
Taking up a range of cultural texts—the 19th century black press, the writings of black feminist Anna Julia Cooper, Asian American novels, African American and Asian American commercial film and documentary—Jun does not seek to document signs of cross-racial identification, but instead demonstrates how the logic of citizenship compels racialized subjects to produce developmental narratives of inclusion in the effort to achieve political, economic, and social incorporation. Race for Citizenship provides a new model of comparative race studies by situating contemporary questions of differential racial formations within a long genealogy of anti-racist discourse constrained by liberal notions of inclusion.
In her research on popular culture of the Vietnamese diaspora, Nhi T. Lieu explores how people displaced by war reconstruct cultural identity in the aftermath of migration. Embracing American democratic ideals and consumer capitalism prior to arriving in the United States, postwar Vietnamese refugees endeavored to assimilate and live the American Dream. In The American Dream in Vietnamese, she claims that nowhere are these fantasies played out more vividly than in the Vietnamese American entertainment industry.
Lieu examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. She shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.
The American Dream in Vietnamese demonstrates how the circulation of images manufactured by both Americans and Vietnamese immigrants serves to produce these immigrants’ paradoxical desires. Within these desires and their representations, Lieu finds the dramatization of the community’s struggle to define itself against the legacy of the refugee label, a classification that continues to pathologize their experiences in American society.
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.
In addition to mentioning new book releases, I will periodically include links to recent news articles from around the internet that relate to the books’ topic as well, to give readers a wider exposure to the different dynamics involved. This time around, I highlight books and internet links that focus on art and entertainment involving Asians and Asian Americans.
From cuisine and martial arts to sex and self-esteem, East Eats West shines new light on the bridges and crossroads where two hemispheres meld into one worldwide immigrant nation. In this new nation, with its amalgamation of divergent ideas, tastes, and styles, today s bold fusion becomes tomorrow s classic. But while the space between East and West continues to shrink in this age of globalization, some cultural gaps remain.
In this collection of twenty-one personal essays, Andrew Lam, the award-winning author of Perfume Dreams, continues to explore the Vietnamese diaspora, this time concentrating not only on how the East and West have changed, but how they are changing each other. Lively and engaging, East Eats West searches for meaning in nebulous territory charted by very few. Part memoir, part meditations, and part cultural anthropology, East Eats West is about thriving in the West with one foot still in the East.
Yellow Future examines the emergence and popularity of techno-oriental representations in Hollywood cinema since the 1980s, focusing on the ways East Asian peoples and places have become linked with technology to produce a collective fantasy of East Asia as the future. Jane Chi Hyun Park demonstrates how this fantasy is sustained through imagery, iconography, and performance that conflate East Asia with technology, constituting what Park calls “oriental style.”
Park provides a genealogy of oriental style through contextualized readings of popular films-from the multicultural city in Blade Runner and the Japanese American mentor in The Karate Kid to the Afro-Asian reworking of the buddy genre in Rush Hour and the mixed-race hero in The Matrix. Throughout these analyses Park shows how references to the Orient have marked important changes in American popular attitudes toward East Asia in the past thirty years, from abjection to celebration, invisibility to hypervisibility.
Unlike other investigations of racial imagery in Hollywood, Yellow Future centers on how the Asiatic is transformed into and performed as style in the backdrop of these movies and discusses the significance of this conditional visibility for representations of racial difference.
No Safe Spaces looks at one of the most radical and enduring changes introduced during the Civil Rights era — multiracial and cross-racial casting practices in American theater. The move to cast Latino/a, African-American, and Asian-American actors in classic stage works written by and about white Europeans and Americans is viewed as both a social and political gesture and an artistic innovation. Non-traditionally cast productions are shown to have participated in the national dialogue about race relations and ethnic identity and served as a source of renewed creativity for the staging of the canonical repertory.
The book opens with a historical overview of multiracial casting, considering the artistic, political, and pragmatic dimensions of nontraditional approaches to casting. Two subsequent chapters examine non-traditional casting in terms of the relationship between reality and stage representation being assumed by various theatrical genres and in the context of the process of racial formation in the United States. The remaining chapters focus on case studies from the dominant genres of twentieth-century American theater: classical tragedy and drama, modern domestic drama, anti-realist drama, and the Broadway musical.
Since Japanese horror sensations The Ring and Audition first terrified Western audiences at the turn of the millennium, there’s been a growing appreciation of Asia as the hotbed of the world’s best horror movies. Over the last decade, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong have all produced a steady stream of stylish supernatural thrillers and psychological chillers that have set new benchmarks for cinematic scares.
Hollywood soon followed suit, producing high-profile remakes of films such as The Ring, Dark Water, The Grudge, and The Eye. With scores of Asian horror films now available to Western audiences, this guide helps viewers navigate the eclectic mix of vengeful spooks, yakuza zombies, feuding warlocks, and devilish dumplings, discussing the grand themes of Asian horror cinema and the distinctive national histories that give the films their special resonance.
Tracing the long and noble tradition of horror stories in eastern cultures, it also delves into some of the folktales that have influenced this latest wave of shockers, paying tribute to classic Asian ghost films throughout the ages.
A Chinese-made production of the story of “Mulan” competes with the Disney version to capture attention, history, and revenue. As the article also notes, “While the Disney film wove comedy into a Disney-esque plot about a young girl breaking out of the confines of tradition to pursue her own destiny, the new Mulan focuses on patriotism, filial piety, romance and the difficulties of war. The formula is part of an evolving mainland genre that has seen filmmakers incorporating more nuanced, entertaining storytelling into patriotic plots.”
The Alma Mater Society of Queens University in Kingston, Canada declares that sumo costumes are offensive and that organizations should stop using them as part of their activities:
“Sumo suits, the plastic novelties that can transform a skinny sports fan into a comically unstable sphere for the delight of a stadium audience, are racist and dehumanizing instruments of oppression, according to the student government of Queen’s University. They “appropriate an aspect of Japanese culture,” turn a racial identity into a “costume,” and “devalue an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition.” They also “fail to capture the deeply embedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced.”
Likewise, the owners of the two suits have never imagined they could be considered offensive. “It’s the first time we’ve heard of [the racist aspects],” Mike Grobe, a spokesman for Queen’s Athletics, which uses the suits at football and basketball games for half-time shows, when people run obstacle courses in them. “They’re just big puffy suits. They’re pink… No one’s complained.”
Comprised of four Filipino Americans from San Francisco, Legaci has recently gained fame by performing in support of Justin Bieber. But does their success reinforce the notion that Asian American pop music performers can’t be successful as lead acts?
“Even if most people just know us as Justin Bieber’s Asian backup singers,” [Legaci co-founder] Micah Tolentino said, “we’re proud to be out there, to show the world that Asian-Americans are talented.” While the pop charts are a familiar home to African-Americans and Latino-Americans, they’ve been less hospitable to Asian-Americans in the United States.
“Asian-Americans are locked out,” said Phil Yu, who runs the pop-culture blog angryasianman.com. “There are definitely elements of racism, but it’s also that audiences are not used to seeing Asian faces on the pop charts or on music videos, and record labels won’t take a chance on that.” Legaci can list its fellow travelers on one hand. There’s the Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger (her father is Filipino), the fledgling Filipino pop star Charice (who sings a duet with Iyaz on her first United States single, “Pyramid”) and most famously, Allan Pineda, a k a Apl.de.ap, of the Black Eyed Peas.
Christine Balance, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of California, Irvine, points out that while Latin and black music have longstanding currency in the industry, there’s nothing comparable for Asian-Americans. “How do you market an Asian-American star?” she said. “African-Americans are foundational to U.S. popular culture, and for Latinos there’s the adjective ‘Latin’ music that’s used to describe a variety of musical forms. But Asians are still seen as foreign or alien to mainstream America.”
As we conclude May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, below is the transcript from a webchat that I recently did through the U.S. State Department with participants connected with U.S. embassies in various Asian countries. Overall, I think the webchat turned out well and I was happy to be a part of it.
At the same time, I noticed that many of the participants (presumably both U.S.- and foreign-based) have the same erroneous assumptions that I’ve discussed numerous times in this blog — that being “Asian” is the same as being “Asian American.” If anything, I hope that my answers helped to clarify both the similarities and differences between these two sets of experiences and issues.
What is Asian Pacific American heritage?
Asian Pacific American heritage includes the history, experiences, and contributions of Americans of Asian descent. These contributions can be cultural, economic, and political.
What are your specialties, what is your site about, and how can we participate on your website?
I mainly study the social and demographic characteristics of Asian Americans and different forms of assimilation and integration that they undergo, such as interracial and interethnic marriage, owning their own small business, living in an ethnic community, etc. My site discusses these and other political, economic, and cultural issues and news events related to Asian Americans. There is a comment section at the bottom of each of the articles an blog posts on my site where readers can share their reactions and opinions with each other. You can also contact me directly through a message form on my site as well.
I’m from Cambodia. What can I help contribute to the APA heritage?
Globalization and demographic changes have resulted in more connections between Asian countries and the U.S. so Asian Americans have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront on such changes for the benefit of everyone involved. Many Asian citizens already have connections to friends and relatives in the U.S. and can serve as a valuable part of this emerging network.
Have you studied in a foreign country and if so, what did you think?
Unfortunately I’ve never studied abroad, which is something that I regret not doing while in college.
Do you have any activities relating to Viet Nam and China around Hoang Sa Island?
I’m sorry but I don’t have any activities that relate directly to that region. My expertise is in Asian American issues, rather than Asian issues. In fact, I should take this opportunity to make a small correction in Jennryn’s introduction of me — I’m a professor of Asian American Studies, not Asian Studies.
Could you give some reflections about the relationship between Asia and the U.S?
It’s certainly a very complicated issue and one that contains many contradictions. For example, the U.S. loves the cheap labor and natural resources that Asia offers but is suspicious of the power that Asian countries represent. It’s a similar situation with Asian Americans — the rest of America loves the cultural contributions that Asian Americans have added to American society like Chinese restaurants, but is wary that Asian Americans frequently are more educated and make more money than the rest of the U.S.
A coworker of mine would like to ask C.N. Le about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. She says this year, it will feature Asian Americans (and Mexico). Dates are June 24-28 and July 1-5.
From what I know if it, I think it’s a good idea to include other racial/ethnic groups in these kinds of festivals. We all live in the same society and have to interact with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, so it makes sense to get to know our neighbors more and to celebrate the many similarities and connections that we share together.
How can Asian culture spread in America?
In fact, many aspects of Asian culture has been incorporated into the American mainstream. This includes media and pop culture examples like anime, manga, martial arts movies, etc. Also includes food, some forms of fashion and other kinds of trends. The key component of this infusion of Asian culture into America is that hopefully Americans will understand and appreciate the history of the culture behind the trend, and not just see it as another commodity or accessory.
I want to study out side of my country but am poor in English, so what can I do?
Well I’m not an expert on study abroad advising but I presume that your school or college offers English classes for you to improve your English skills so that you can one day feel comfortable in studying in the U.S.
What kind of stereotypes do you address in your website?
There have been two main stereotypes that Asian Americans have encountered through the years. First is that all Asian Americans are foreigners — this is the idea that we’re outsiders and not ”real” Americans, even though many Asian Americans have been in the U.S. for several generations and in terms of their values, behaviors, and loyalty, are just as American as anybody else. Second is the stereotype that all Asian Americans are the same — that there are no differences between ethnic groups — that being Chinese American is the same as Japanese American etc.
People say that America is a melting-pot, what do you think about this?
There are some aspects of that melting pot image that is true. As I mentioned, different aspects of Asian culture have been incorporated into the American mainstream. Also, interracial marriage between different racial groups through the years have resulted in the emergence of a growing mixed race/multiracial population. On the other hand, in terms of political power the U.S. is still a very segregated society unfortunately.
What are main problems of population growth?
I’m not sure the main problem is population growth per se but rather the economic opportunities that are associated with growing populations. If a society has the proper resources where growing populations can be adequately cared for, educated, and employed, then the problems normally associated with population growth are less of a concern.
I don’t understand what you mean when you mention that Asian Americans are not real Americans and there are no differences between ethnic groups. Can you explain more?
I will use the example of Vincent Chin — he was a Chinese American living in Detroit in 1982 who was beaten to death by two White men who mistook him for being Japanese and blamed him for them losing their jobs as autoworkers. In this example, we see that the two White men did not differentiate between being Chinese or Japanese — that’s the stereotype that all Asians are the same. Second, they assumed that because of his Asian ancestry that he was not a real American and in fact, accused him of being an enemy of the U.S. by taking over their jobs — this is the stereotype that all Asians are foreginers and not real Americans.
Can you give us an example of some of the interesting census statistics you deal with related to diversity?
Yes, Census statistics paint a very interesting picture — Asian Americans are currently about 5% of the total US population but will increase to about 10% in a few decades. The Latino population has increased significantly as well — from about 15% now to about 25% in a few decades. In fact, around the year 2045, Whites will no longer comprise a majority of the population — they’ll still be the largest racial group by far, but non-Whites will eventually make up more than 50% of the US population.
America is a new continent, what has America created as their own heritage?
America’s heritage is that it offers some of the best opportunities in the world for people to improve their lives. That is why billions of people around the world want to come to the U.S. and in fact, feel compelled to come here without authorization. The US is the first choice of destination for many people around the world because of all the opportunities it offers. But that is also why it is so frustrating when people come here and run into different barriers on their way to accessing those opportunities. Hopefully the US can remember and emphasize its role as the land of opportunity as we move forward in the 21st century.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my work. I enjoyed answering people’s questions and hope that we all continue these kinds of discussions in other parts of our work and lives.
It’s a well known and documented fact that in almost all Asian cultures, boys are systematically valued more than girls. Based on centuries of institutionalized patriarchy and traditional cultural practices, most Asian families would rather have children who are boys than girls. This gender bias is one of the reasons why an overwhelming majority of children given up for adoption in Asian countries are girls. This bias has also led to growing gender imbalances in many Asian countries, with some analysts predicting that such a gender imbalance may evolve into a threat to national security as this overpopulation of males become adults.
Here in the U.S., we might think that things are different among Asian Americans. That is, being a part of American society and within its social norms of gender equality, Asian Americans would have more “modern” views about the value of boys and girls so that there would not be any kind of systematic preference of one gender over another when it comes to our children. However, as the New York Times reports, recent Census data shows that at least among Indian Americans, Chinese Americans, and Korean Americans, there is a notable gender imbalance among their children in which boys are much more common than girls:
In general, more boys than girls are born in the United States, by a ratio of 1.05 to 1. But among American families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent, the likelihood of having a boy increased to 1.17 to 1 if the first child was a girl, according to the Columbia economists. If the first two children were girls, the ratio for a third child was 1.51 to 1 — or about 50 percent greater — in favor of boys. . . .
Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion. . . .
Dr. Norbert Gleicher, medical director of the Center for Human Reproduction, a fertility and sex-selection clinic in New York and Chicago, said that from his experience, people were more inclined to want female children, except for Asians and Middle Easterners. . . . The Fertility Institutes, which does not offer abortions, has unabashedly advertised its services in Indian- and Chinese-language newspapers in the United States. . . .
Efforts by clinics to appeal to Indian families in the United States provoked criticism and some community introspection in 2001. Some newspapers and magazines that ran advertisements promoting the clinics, which offered sex-selection procedures, expressed regret at the perpetuation of what critics regard as a misogynistic practice.
This emerging gender imbalance and “son-biased” sex ratio (illustrated in the accompanying New York Times graphic on the right) seems to reflect one fundamental point — that many Asian Americans still have very direct and strong family and cultural connections to their ancestral country. These traditional cultural ties can manifest themselves directly in the form of Asian immigrants still having the “son is superior” mentality that leads them to favor having boys more than girls.
Or, as the New York Times article also mentions, the other way that these traditional cultural ties become exemplified can be that even younger Asian American immigrant couples accept the U.S.’s norms of gender equality, various pressures from family, relatives, or friends in their ancestral Asian country lead them to favor boys over girls. As one example of this, perhaps couples in this situation have parents in the home country who will only give inheritance to male descendants and not female ones.
Ultimately, these demographic patterns (at least among Indian Americans, Chinese Americans, and Korean Americans) show us that the connections between Asia and America run deeper than just geographic distance.
That said, we should also recognize that this article and research studies that provide the basis of these demographic trends all note that these findings seem to be limited to Asian immigrant couples in which both spouses are foreign-born. In other words, there does not seem to be any data or evidence that this trend exists among Asian American couples in which both spouses are U.S.-born.
This last point goes to show just how powerful a force American assimilation is in the lives of most Asian Americans.
Below is another announcement about an online survey in need of Asian American respondents:
My name is Chia-Chun Li, a research assistant and doctoral student in UT-Austin, and now working with Dr. Im. Dr. Eun-Ok Im is conducting an Internet study on the physical activity attitudes among diverse ethnic groups of middle-aged women (40-60 Y/O), and we believe that Asian American women will benefit from participating in this study. Their participation can make our data more complete; besides, Asian women’s opinions and experiences are very imperative and cannot be neglected.
The purpose of this study is to explore attitudes of midlife women from four ethnic groups [Hispanic, Non-Hispanic (N-H) White, N-H African Americans, and N-H Asians] toward physical activity while considering the relationships between their attitudes and their actual participation in physical activity within the ethnic-specific contexts of their daily lives.
Your involvement will consist of the following: (a) about 30 minutes are usually needed to complete the Internet survey questionnaire; and (b) the online forums will be conducted for 6 months, should you agree to participate in the additional online forum discussion. Your participation is asynchronous (you can visit the online forum site and read and post messages at your convenience).
You will receive a gift certificate of 10 dollars for filling out the Internet survey, and an additional gift certificate of 50 dollars for participating in the additional online forum (only those who participate in the additional online forum for 6 months will be provided with this additional gift certificate). To get reimbursed for the online forums, you have to post at least one message per topic.
Chia-Chun Li, MSN, RN,
Graduate Research Assistant, doctoral student
School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin
1700 Red River, Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 475-6352
Eun-Ok Im, PhD, MPH, RN, CNS, FAAN, Professor
School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin
1700 Red River, Austin, TX, 78701