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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.

December 6, 2012

Written by C.N.

Links, Jobs, & Announcements #70

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.

2 Positions: American Ethnic Studies, Kansas State Univ.

© Corbis

Director – American Ethnic Studies

Kansas State University invites applications for Director of the American Ethnic Studies Program. The Program will grow significantly over the next three years to meet the requirements to become a department and to contribute to the university’s goal of being recognized as a top 50 public research university by 2025: http://www.k-state.edu/2025. This is a 12-month, tenure line appointment with a reduced teaching load.

Requirements include a strong record of teaching, research, and service that focuses specifically on historically under-represented racial and ethnic populations in the U.S. Candidates with a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies or related interdisciplinary field are especially encouraged to apply. Regardless of research field, the successful candidate will demonstrate an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and have a clear and demonstrated understanding of how race, culture, language, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and multiple perspectives in the U.S. context intersect with important elements of inequality and opportunity. Candidates should also demonstrate academic administrative experience with diverse groups of professionals, a strong commitment to supporting research and scholarship within an interdisciplinary department, and a vision for the program’s future. The successful candidate will also have excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, will be able to exhibit innovative thinking about the program’s ongoing development and resource challenges, and will possess a commitment to working with the Dean and college department Directors/Heads.

Responsibilities
The director will:

  • provide leadership for the development of the program according to program, college, and university strategic goals
  • oversee and supervise programmatic functions (e.g., scheduling, budgeting, and personnel)
  • represent the program on and off-campus
  • mentor faculty members in their research and teaching
  • teach, advise, and pursue focused research interrogating the multiple perspectives and contexts for historically under-represented racial and ethnic populations in the U.S.
  • foster a sense of community by promoting open communication, cooperation, and collegiality among faculty, staff, and students
  • work with the college, K-State Foundation, and alumni to attract funds and resources
  • relate effectively to individuals of diverse backgrounds

Required Qualifications

  • Earned Ph.D. in a discipline with a clear teaching, research, and service focus specific to historically under-represented racial and ethnic populations in the U.S.
  • Strong background of interdisciplinary scholarship
  • Excellent leadership and administrative skills
  • Experience working with diverse groups
  • Qualifications consistent with the rank of Associate Professor or Professor

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated success in a leadership or administrative role
  • Demonstrated ability to obtain and administer external funding, including philanthropic gifts
  • Qualifications consistent with the rank of Professor

Application Information
Review of applications will begin January 14, 2013, and continue until the position is filled. Applicants must submit: (1) a letter of application that describes their qualifications and background, (2) a one-page statement outlining a vision for expanding the department’s capabilities and productivity, especially in research, scholarship, and creative activity, (3) a curriculum vita, and (4) the names and contact information for three references. Submit materials (preference is for a single PDF file) to Ms. Karen Solt, College of Arts & Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-1005; (785) 532-6900. Submissions by email are preferred: solt@k-state.edu. Contact Ms. Karen Solt with any questions. Kansas State University is an equal opportunity employer and actively seeks diversity among its employees. A background check is required.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

American Ethnic Studies Tenure Track Assistant Professor Position

The American Ethnic Studies Program at Kansas State University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Candidates must have a record or clear promise of:

  • research publication in Asian-American, Latino/a, OR American-Indian studies
  • strong teaching
  • demonstrated commitment to departmental and institutional service and diverse student populations
  • Regardless of research field, the successful candidate will have a clear and demonstrated understanding of how race and ethnicity in the U.S. context intersect with important elements of inequality and opportunity

The person hired will play a key role in developing the new major in American Ethnic Studies. Teaching load is 3/2, including Introductory American Ethnic Studies surveys, upper-level American Ethnic Studies courses, and upper-level courses in area of specialty. Completed PhD in related field by time of appointment.

Review of applications begins December 7, 2012. Send letter, CV, one sample of article-length scholarly writing, three letters of recommendation, and evidence of teaching effectiveness to Kimberly Garver, kgarver@k-state.edu, Kansas State University, American Ethnic Studies Program, 3 Leasure Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506. Electronic submissions are encouraged.

Department Information
Created as a secondary major over twenty years ago, American Ethnic Studies is a now an academic major with strong support from the College Administration. This position is one of two hires for 2013, with a third new position anticipated the following year. By the end of Spring 2015, the program will have four tenure-track faculty and begin the transition to the status of a department.

Currently, one tenure track faculty (focusing in African American Studies), one interim director, and three instructors comprise the core faculty. The program has 19 undergraduate majors and 79 minors. In addition, the program is supported by 27 affiliated faculty from around the university and advised by an 11-person governance board. The program’s core areas of scholarship inquiry may be found on the web site: http://www.k-state.edu/ameth/.

Position: Director, Institute on Race and Ethnicity, Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) invites applications and nominations for the Director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity. . . . [T]he Institute is dedicated to dismantling the remaining historical, cultural, and institutional barriers that have impeded the progress of racial and ethnic justice in America.

UALR established the Institute on Race and Ethnicity in late 2011 after seven years of comprehensive planning, research, and public discussion led by Chancellor Joel Anderson. Today the Institute is poised to become a state-wide forum for direct conversation, focused action, and systemic change by bringing people of diverse backgrounds together through scholarly research, public forums, and action-driven initiatives to foster civic renewal and reconciliation.

The Search Advisory Committee seeks a visionary builder with a passion for social justice and talents as a collaborator and mediator. The successful candidate in this broad national search will have the signal opportunity to help write the next chapters in the history of race relations in Arkansas and the South; to position the Institute as a world-class change agent in achieving fuller cooperation among the races; and to lead in refining and implementing its vision, mission, and strategic plan as the Institute grows in stature regionally and nationally.

The Search Committee will accept applications and nominations until the on-campus interview stage. For best consideration, materials should be received before February 15, 2013. Interviews will begin in March. Applications should include a detailed letter of interest describing relevant experiences and interest in the position; curriculum vitae; names of five references with titles, addresses, and telephone numbers. Individuals who wish to nominate a candidate should submit a letter of nomination, including name, position, address, telephone number, and email address of the nominee.

Materials should be electronically submitted via MS Word or pdf to UALRInstitute@academic-search.com. The search is assisted by John B. Hicks, Senior Consultant Academic Search, Inc. John.hicks@academic-search.com 205-345-7221.

Position: Research Associate/Social Demographer, Latin American Studies, Univ. of Nebraska

University of Nebraska at Omaha
Research Associate-Social Demographer
6001 Dodge St., Omaha NE 68182

Job Summary
The University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies of the Great Plains (OLLAS) invites applications for a post-doctoral scholar who can help OLLAS build its record of local and trans-hemispheric community-oriented and policy relevant research in areas related to Latino/Latin American population movements as well as socioeconomic characteristics and impacts. The University and OLLAS have a strong commitment to achieving diversity among faculty and staff. We are particularly interested in receiving applications from members of under-represented groups and strongly encourage women and persons of color to apply.

Qualifications
PhD required. Must be proficient in U.S. census analysis as well as knowledgeable of Latin American censuses. Must have excellent writing and oral communication skills. Teaching experience and experience working with grassroots Latino communities and a record of collaborative research and engagement are required. Proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking of Spanish language is highly desirable. Must have a secondary area of research such as health, education, social inequality, or migration.

Essential Duties
The successful candidate must be able to conduct research, publish reports, and participate in related community engagement projects in the areas of Latino/Latin American migration and socioeconomic issues associated with multi-generational Latinos in Nebraska and Great Plains region.

To Apply
Apply for this position at http://agency.governmentjobs.com/unomaha/default.cfm and submit the following items electronically: cover letter, curriculum vitae, names of at least three references, and research statement. Hard copies of materials that cannot be attached electronically should be mailed to Dr. Lourdes Gouveia, OLLAS, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha NE, 68182.

Call for Submissions: Asian American Religions in a Globalized World

Amerasia Journal Special Issue Call for Papers: Asian American Religions in a Globalized World

Guest Editors: Professor Khyati Y. Joshi (Farleigh Dickinson University) and Professor Sylvia Chan-Malik (Rutgers University)
Publication Date: Spring 2014

Due Dates: 400-word abstracts due on January 10, 2013; authors with selected abstracts will be notified shortly after, with an April 1, 2013 due date for completed essay submissions.

How does religion shape the existing and emergent terrains of Asian Pacific America? In our contemporary moment, as neoliberal policies of globalization and militarism converge with legacies of colonialism and racial violence, what role has religion played in the racial formation of Asian Pacific Americans in the U.S. and beyond? As dividing lines between the “religious” and the “secular” become increasingly blurred, how do processes of racialization affect what we understand as “religious” practices in APA communities, both domestically and transnationally? To investigate such questions, we seek critical essays, book reviews, and first-person accounts that engage the intersections of Asian Pacific America and Religion for a special issue of Amerasia Journal, scheduled for publication in Spring 2014.

Building upon “Racial Spirits” (1996), an earlier project exploring Asian American religions in Amerasia Journal, this special issue will look at how religion plays a central role in creating belonging and identity formation in Asian Pacific America, alongside how APA religions themselves are constructed and reproduced through lived experience and community formation. While broadly speaking, there is increasing interest in religion amongst scholars in Asian American Studies, much more inquiry is necessary to assess the salience of spirituality and religion in the everyday lives of Asian Pacific Americans, as well as how religion has been racialized, gendered, and sexualized in the post-9/11 era. We are particularly interested in how religion provides transnational sources of identification for APA communities, enabling and fostering affiliations that often span beyond the nation-state and challenge U.S.-based categories of racial and religious formation.

We seek scholarship engaging APA religions from a variety of methods and disciplines, and welcome intersectional analyses that account for and offer new frameworks for understanding the dynamic interplay between categories of race, gender, class, sexuality, and religion. In addition to scholarly essays, we encourage submissions of first-person narratives from community activists, theologians, and religious leaders. Stepping across theoretical and disciplinary boundaries is strongly encouraged.

The issue’s major foci will be on:

  • Asian Pacific American Religious Histories and Communities, in particular those affected by post-9/11 racializing practices, e.g. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, etc.
  • Lived Religion in the Asian Pacific American Experience
  • Asian Pacific American Religious Communities and Social Justice
  • Race and Sacred Spaces
  • Interracial-Interreligious Intersections, i.e. Relationships between Asian Pacific American Religious Communities and other religious communities of color (i.e. Black/Chicano-Latino/Native American-Indigenous, etc.)

To submit, please send a 400-word abstract, along with a short biographical note, to Dr. Khyati Joshi, Dr. Sylvia Chan-Malik, and Dr. Arnold Pan at the addresses below by January 10, 2013. If selected for publication, final pieces will range from 3000-5000 words.

Submission Guidelines:
The editorial procedure involves a three-step process. The guest editors, in consultation with the Amerasia Journal editors and peer reviewers, make decisions on the final essays:

1. Approval of abstracts
2. Submission of papers solicited from accepted abstracts
3. Revision of accepted peer-reviewed papers and final submission

Please send correspondence regarding the special issue on religion and Asian American Studies to the following addresses. All correspondence should refer to “Amerasia Journal Religion Issue” in the subject line.

Professor Khyati Joshi: khyati@fdu.edu
Professor Sylvia Chan-Malik: s.chanmalik@rutgers.edu
Arnold Pan, Associate Editor, Amerasia Journal: arnoldpan@ucla.edu

Call for Submissions: Hmong Across Borders

“Hmong Across Borders” Conference
Friday, October 4 to Saturday, October 5, 2013
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

The Consortium for Hmong Studies between the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (http://hmongstudies.wisc.edu/index.htm) will be hosting our second conference entitled “Hmong Across Borders” on October 4-5, 2013 at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. This will be an interdisciplinary, international conference that will focus on current, innovative research on the Hmong across different intellectual and national boundaries around the world. The aim of the conference is to gather scholars around the globe who are interested in critical Hmong studies and related ideas.

This includes bringing together well-established scholars as well as those beginning their careers. Graduate students are encouraged to submit abstracts. Although the central focus of this conference is on the Hmong, papers of a comparative nature that focus on the Hmong and other ethnic groups are equally welcome. Presenters will not be required to pay the registration fee for attending, but will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs.

Scholars interested in presenting are encouraged to submit individual abstracts not exceeding 250 words, or ideas for panels not exceeding 400 words. Submissions should be sent to Mai Na M. Lee at mainalee@umn.edu. Abstracts should be received no later than April 15, 2013. Acceptance of abstracts and panel ideas will be confirmed by May 30, 2013.

Organized panels should compose of 3-4 participants presenting formal papers and 1 discussant. Panel organizers should supply the following information:

  • Title of the panel
  • Name, institution, address and email of the panel organizer
  • Name, institution, address and email of each presenter
  • Name, institution, address and email of the panel discussant
  • Abstract (250 words or less) describing the panel as a whole
  • Title and abstract (250 words or less) of each individual papers

Individual papers must include the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Name, institution, address and email address of the presenter
  • Abstract of 250 words or less

February 28, 2012

Written by C.N.

New Books: Hmong, Cambodians, Laotians, and Thais

The following new books examine some political, economic, and cultural issues of Southeast Asian ethnic groups in Asia and in the U.S. that do not get as much scholarly and public attention from compared to larger east Asian ethnic groups — Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians, and Thais. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Thais in Los Angeles, by Chanchanit Martorell and Beatrice “Tippe” Morlan (Arcadia Publishing)

'Thais in Los Angeles' by Martorell and Morlan

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. With a relatively recent history of immigration to the United States dating to 1965, reports estimate that 80,000 Thais make their home in Southern California. In spite of its brief history in the United States, the Thai community in Los Angeles has already left its mark on the city. While the proliferation of Thai-owned businesses and shops has converted East Hollywood and some San Fernando Valley neighborhoods to destinations for cultural tourism, the Thai community in Los Angeles County reverberates still from global attention over the 1995 El Monte human trafficking case. The great popularity of Thai cuisine, textiles, and cultural festivals continues to preserve, enrich, and showcase one of Asia’s most distinctive cultures.

The Persistence of Cambodian Poverty: From the Killing Fields to Today, by Harold Kerbo (McFarland Publishing)

'The Persistence of Cambodian Poverty' by Harold Kerbo

Since the tragedies of the “killing fields” and the rule of the Khmer Rouge, the global community has largely ignored the social issues plaguing Cambodia. Though the infamous killings have largely stopped, poverty and corruption are rampant in contemporary Cambodia. This book includes a short history of Cambodia and covers the systemic nature of Cambodian poverty, the economic success stories of Vietnam and Laos, the corruption in Cambodia, and hopes for its future. Intended for the general reader, this book is particularly relevant to those interested in the broader issue of eliminating world poverty.

Writing from These Roots: Literacy in a Hmong-American Community, by John M. Duffy (University of Hawai’i Press)

'Writing from the Roots' by John Duffy

Writing from These Roots documents the historical development of literacy in a Midwestern American community of Laotian Hmong, a people who came to the United States as refugees from the Vietnam War and whose language had no widely accepted written form until one created by missionary-linguists was adopted in the late twentieth century by Hmong in Laos and, later, the U.S. and other Western nations. As such, the Hmong have often been described as “preliterates,” “nonliterates,” or members of an “oral culture.” Although such terms are problematic, it is nevertheless true that the majority of Hmong did not read or write in any language when they arrived in the U.S.

For this reason, the Hmong provide a unique opportunity to study the forces that influence the development of reading and writing abilities in cultures in which writing is not widespread and to do so within the context of the political, economic, religious, military, and migratory upheavals classified broadly as “globalization.”

Drawing on life-history interviews collected from Hmong refugees in a Wisconsin community, this book examines the disparate political and institutional forces that shaped Hmong literacy development in the twentieth century, including, in Laos, French colonialism, Laotian nationalism, missionary Christianity, and the CIA during the Vietnam War. It further examines the influences on Hmong literary in the U.S., including public schooling, evangelical Christianity, ethnic self-help organizations, and media discourses about Hmong refugees.

In relating the particulars of the Hmong story, the author asks broad questions–still urgent and unresolved–about the nature of literacy development: How do people learn to read and write? What are the forces that nourish, compel, sustain, deny, or redeem literacy? What processes are at work when a majority of people within a given culture, begins, for the first time in its history, to acquire and use written language? And, finally, in what ways do minority peoples–refugees, immigrants, and others–claim the possibilities of literacy for themselves, using it as an instrument to compose identities, cultures, and conceptions of the world? Writing from These Roots offers a theoretical perspective on these and other questions concerning literacy development, one rooted in the symbolic interactions of peoples, cultures, and nations.

Laotian Daughters: Working toward Community, Belonging, and Environmental Justice, by Bindi V. Shah (Temple University Press)

'Laotian Daughters' by Bindi V. Shah

Laotian Daughters focuses on second-generation environmental justice activists in Richmond, California. Bindi Shah’s pathbreaking book charts these young women’s efforts to improve the degraded conditions in their community and explores the ways their activism and political practices resist the negative stereotypes of race, class, and gender associated with their ethnic group.

Using ethnographic observations, interviews, focus groups, and archival data on their participation in Asian Youth Advocates—a youth leadership development project—Shah analyzes the teenagers’ mobilization for social rights, cross-race relations, and negotiations of gender and inter-generational relations. She also addresses issues of ethnic youth, and immigration and citizenship and how these shape national identities.

Shah ultimately finds that citizenship as a social practice is not just an adult experience, and that ethnicity is an ongoing force in the political and social identities of second-generation Laotians.

Facing the Khmer Rouge: A Cambodian Journey, by Ronnie Yimsut (Rutgers University Press)

'Facing the Khmer Rouge' by Ronnie Yimsut

As a child growing up in Cambodia, Ronnie Yimsut played among the ruins of the Angkor Wat temples, surrounded by a close-knit community. As the Khmer Rouge gained power and began its genocidal reign of terror, his life became a nightmare. Teenaged Ronnie was left orphaned, literally buried under the bodies of his family and friends. In this stunning memoir, Yimsut describes how, in the wake of death and destruction, he decides to live.

Escaping the turmoil of Cambodia, he makes a perilous journey through the jungle into Thailand, only to be sent to a notorious Thai prison. Fortunately, he is able to reach a refugee camp and ultimately migrate to the United States, another frightening journey to the unknown. Yet he prevailed, attending the University of Oregon and becoming an influential leader in the community of Cambodian immigrants. Facing the Khmer Rouge shows Ronnie Yimsut’s personal quest to rehabilitate himself, make a new life in America, and then return to Cambodia to help rebuild the land of his birth.


January 12, 2011

Written by C.N.

Ed Lee and Vang Pao: Asian American Leadership in Transition

Over the last few days, news about two prominent Asian American community leaders caught the attention of many Americans around the country. First is the passing of General Vang Pao, the longtime and high-profile leader of the Hmong and Laotian American community, passed away at the age of 81. Commentator Mai Der Vang at New American Media summarizes his personal history and significance to Asian Americans:

General Vang Pao © New America Media

During the 1960s, the U.S. government recruited him to command guerrilla forces against communist Laos in a covert war in which tens of thousands of Hmong soldiers were killed and hundreds of thousands of civilians forced into exile. . . .

Many of us also recalled the arrest of Vang Pao and ten other men in 2007 as they were charged with attempting to overthrow the Lao government. Rally after rally, hundreds of his devout supporters participated in demonstrations here in Fresno and Sacramento. They put intense pressure on the US government to release Vang Pao, and put together 1.5 million dollar bail for him. In 2009, charges were dropped. . . .

Many in the Hmong community viewed him as a leader, but Vang Pao also represented for them their lost homeland. When his supporters saw him in public, they saw him not as an aging man in a three-piece suit but, rather, the young valiant war commander he once was. For them, he was the manifestation of a home they once knew and the memories of a life they once lived. . . .

For others in the community, Vang Pao’s passing marks an end to a contentious era. Despite galvanizing support among the masses, there were some who remained skeptical about his leadership perhaps due to his politics, his personal life, or the fallout from histories tied to Laos. Yet whether a person admired him or held their reservations, there is no arguing the fact that he was one of the most prominent figures in Hmong modern history, essentially serving through the decades as the unelected leader of the global diaspora.

As I wrote about in my chapter “‘Better Dead Than Red’: Anti-Communist Politics Among Vietnamese Americans” in the edited volume Anti-Communist Minorities in the US: The Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees and elsewhere on this blog, emotions still run very high for many Southeast Asian Americans when it comes to matters related to the Viet Nam War and its aftermath.

I am not an expert on General Vang’s life but it was clear that he was both admired and disliked by many Laotian and Hmong Americans. In either case, he had a significant impact on many of their lives and transnational history, both in southeast Asia and here in the U.S. Inevitably, his passing creates an environment and opportunity for new leaders to emerge in the Hmong and Laotian American communities. In the process, we are likely to see Asian Americans continue the gradual transition from lives focused primarily on Asia to one focused more on America.

The other notable Asian American leader to make the news recently is Ed Lee who, for all intents and purposes, is on track to become the new mayor of San Francisco and thus one of the first Asian American mayors of a major U.S. city. The San Francisco Chronicle summarizes the recent events that led to this momentous event:

Ed Lee © San Francisco Chronicle

The Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 today to appoint City Administrator Ed Lee as interim mayor, but the decision is not official until Mayor Gavin Newsom steps down and is sworn in to the lieutenant governor’s job he won in November. Newsom has refused to resign until the new Board of Supervisors with four new members is sworn in at noon Saturday. The new board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Newsom’s successor, who will fill out the year remaining on his term.

As for Lee’s chances to get the nod from the new board, he has it all but locked up. Seven of the supervisors who voted in favor of Lee today will still be on the board Tuesday, providing the majority Lee would need to get the job even without their new colleagues. . . . Voters will elect a new mayor in November.

Although Ed Lee’s presumed position as San Francisco’s new mayor appears to be only an interim position for now, this is still a very historic event for American society. Following on the heels of Jean Quan’s election as Mayor of Oakland, it is personally refreshing and sociologically notable to see that Asian Americans are gradually emerging as political leaders and attaining political power.

Up to this point, even though Asian Americans made up 10% of California’s population and 33% of the population in the Bay Area, we have been consistently underrepresented as political leaders in these areas. There are numerous external and internal factors that influence much of this historical underrepresentation, but as we move forward into the 21st century, as I’ve described in several posts on this blog, there are numerous ways in which the Asian American population can make significant contributions that reflect the political, economic, and cultural changes taking place in the world in general and American society in particular.

With this in mind, there are also many compelling reasons why politicians need to take Asian Americans (along with other immigrant groups and communities of color) seriously as not just a constituent group but also as a major emerging cultural and demographic force in the years to come.


October 18, 2010

Written by C.N.

In Brief: Recent News and Articles

I don’t always have enough time to write full posts and sociological explanations about every news story or media article about Asian Americans that comes my way, but I would like to at least mention some of them to keep you, my readers, as updated as possible. So below is a sampling of some recent news items concerning Asian Americans.

Federal Authorities Find Merit in Students’ Claims Against School

Following up on last year’s series of physical attacks against Asian American high school students in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer finds that after reviewing a civil rights complaint filed against the school on behalf of the students by the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Department of Justice has found that the students’ claims of institutional negligence have merit:

In a letter to the district, the Justice Department advised school officials to take steps to settle the matter. It was not immediately clear what form a settlement might take, though it would require the district to improve the treatment of Asian students, who say they have been mocked, harassed, and beaten at the school.

The action follows a formal civil rights complaint filed in January by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group. Such complaints do not result in criminal penalties, but can bring broad changes provided that violations are found to have occurred. . . .

News of the Justice Department letter comes as South Philadelphia High readies for a new school year with a new principal, its fifth in six years. Southern, as the school is known, has long failed to meet state academic standards and has been labeled “persistently dangerous” under federal law. The settlement talks indicate an approaching end to a seven-month investigation.

Similar cases generally conclude in one of three ways: The subject of the complaint enters into a written agreement with the government to fix certain deficiencies; the Justice Department requires the signing of a formal consent decree, a court-monitored settlement backed by the threat of a lawsuit; or the Justice Department opts to sue to force change.

Why Abortion Rate Among Asian-American Women Is So High

New America Media reports that recent data show that 35% of all Asian American pregnancies end in abortion, which is the second-highest percentage among the major racial groups after African Americans, and is almost double the 18% rate for Whites. The article goes on to describe many possible reasons for the relatively high rate and also presents several details personal stories to illustrate the cultural conflicts involved in such decisions.

Asian Americans are at risk for unintended pregnancies in part because their knowledge about sex remains pitifully low (which is curious, considering that Asian-American teens start having sex later than other American teens). Clifford Yee, youth program coordinator at Asian Health Services in Oakland, CA, has been asked whether douching with Mountain Dew prevents pregnancy. . . .

A few were so inexperienced that they didn’t know what the withdrawal method was, the program’s former research director Amy Lam says. Unawareness about sexual health combines with risky contraception practices. The withdrawal method has been popular among Asian-American women, who tend to eschew both hormonal birth control and consistent condom use. . . .

The problem begins at home, according to Lam, who has researched sexual behavior in the Asian-American community. “When you come from a culture where your family doesn’t talk about sex, how can you talk to your partner about safe sex when you don’t have that role model?”

Linked to this point is . . . the model minority myth: Asian parents refuse to think their well-mannered, studious children are having sex. Yee remembers one angry mother who found her 15-year-old’s birth control pills and still claimed her daughter was too young to be sexually active. “There’s a little bit of stubbornness there,” Yee says. “Some parents truly don’t want to believe their child can be out there having sex.” . . .

Lam says, “In many Asian-American cultures, it’s not the abortion that’s taboo; that’s a white thing. Having sex is [what's] taboo. Abortions are the strategies used to cover up that you’re having sex. At all costs, you’re not supposed to have sex.”

Carly Fiorina Courts Asian American Voters

Perhaps as a sign that politicians are starting to take Asian American voters more seriously, in California’s senatorial race between Republican Carly Fiorina and Democrat incumbent Barbara Boxer, the Daily Breeze reports that Fiorina is making an effort to reach out to Asian Americans, who collectively make up 10% of the state’s population.

Fiorina addressed a crowd of about 400 during a voter-education forum hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association at California State University, Sacramento. She noted California is home to more Asian-American-owned small businesses than any other state. The former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive said Boxer supports policies that have stifled private-sector job growth. She went on to say opportunities are no longer as plentiful in California because of high taxes and government regulation. . . .

[Boxer's] campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, questioned Fiorina’s commitment to small businesses. She noted the Republican nominee opposes a bill designed to assist small businesses and give them greater access to credit. She said Boxer backs the entire small-business jobs bill, which will provide incentives to expand and hire.

Fiorina said she objects to a $30 billion fund that would be created under the bill and administered by the Treasury Department to increase lending. She said it amounts to another bank bailout. . . .

A Field Poll released last week showed Boxer with 52 percent collective support among Asian-Americans, blacks and American Indians, compared with 22 percent for Fiorina. About a quarter of those voters remained undecided.

Southeast Asians in Sacramento Area Making Strides

Taken as a whole, Southeast Asian Americans (particularly Hmong, Cambodians, and Laotians) have struggled in attaining socioeconomic mobility in the U.S., not from a lack of effort or hard work, but mainly due to their refugee experiences and relatively low rates of formal education, English fluency, and formal job skills. However, as the Sacramento Bee reports, new data and examples show that at least in Sacramento area that contains a large Southeast Asian American population, there are signs of progress and success.

In 1990, half the Sacramento region’s Southeast Asians were poor. Today, 52 percent own homes, according to a Bee analysis of census data. They enjoy a median household income of $50,000 annually, up from $17,350 in 1990 – about $28,500, adjusted for inflation. The regional average is $61,000. . . .

Most started at the bottom – without English or job skills – but through teamwork and the will to succeed have gone from roach-infested apartments in gang-controlled neighborhoods to suburban homes. Their children – including those at Florin High that hot August morning – have gone to America’s top universities and become doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers.

Indeed, the Southeast Asian American population in the Sacramento area have a lot to be proud of and should be congratulated. They are living examples of how the :American Dream” is still possible, despite the many inevitable challenges along the way. At the same time, their experiences cautions us to remember that there are still many members of their community who are still struggling and that we should not forget about them.


May 17, 2010

Written by C.N.

For a Change: Good News in Racial, Ethnic, & Immigration Relations

I know many of my recent posts have focused on the “bad news” — examples of tensions and hostilities when it comes to racial/ethnic and immigration news. However, there are certainly examples of the opposite — positive and improving relations between different groups in American society that illustrate how cultural differences can be bridged, or at least traditionally underrepresented groups achieving success. Here is a summary of some of the “good news.”

Michigan’s Rima Fakih Wins Miss USA Pageant

Lebanese American immigrant Rima Fakih is crowned Miss USA for 2010. Ms. Fakih resides in Dearborn MI, home of the largest Arab American community in the U.S. and a site of several controversies and tensions in recent years. Nonetheless, her victory is a positive symbol that such tensions can be overcome in this particular instance:

Fakih, a Lebanese immigrant, told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003. Pageant officials said historical pageant records were not detailed enough to show whether Fakih was the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title.

Sacramento to Designate ‘Little Saigon’ District

Map of Little Saigon area of Sacramento, CA

The latest officially-named “Little Saigon” celebrates the Lunar New Year in Sacramento CA, home to about 50,000 Vietnamese Americans. As sociologists have documented, these newly-emerging suburban ethnic enclaves have revitalized stagnant areas by bringing in new businesses, customers, tourists, residents, and revenue for the city and state. However, as some of the comments in the Sacramento Bee story linked above show, many people still harbor hostile sentiments to anything that they perceive to be “un-American.”

Thirty-five years after the fall of South Vietnam, Sacramento’s growing Vietnamese community will ask the City Council on Tuesday to designate a two-mile stretch of Stockton Boulevard as “Little Saigon.”

The business corridor south of Fruitridge Road – chock full of restaurants, nail and hair salons, jewelry stores and Asian markets – would become Sacramento’s first official ethnic neighborhood. Community leaders hope the branding will provide an economic shot in the arm that will defuse some of the crime along Stockton Boulevard.

Radio Show Bridges Cultural Gaps with Hmong Hunters

Also in Sacramento, Yia Yang, a Hmong American immigrant from Laos, serves as a valuable resource to educate recent Hmong immigrants about hunting regulations and practices, to avoid the kind of misunderstandings and tensions that led to the tragic hunting murders in Wisconsin several years ago.

Along the barren airwaves of AM radio in Northern California, somewhere between gospel music and traffic updates, Yia Yang can be heard telling his devoted listeners to always be aware of their gun muzzles.

A 50-year-old Hmong immigrant from northern Laos, Mr. Yang is the host of a regular all-things-hunting program on KJAY 1430-AM. The station serves one of the nation’s largest Hmong populations — one for whom the link between hunting and survival is still palpable. “In Laos a main source of food was wildlife,” said Mr. Yang, who owns a used-car lot in Sacramento, a city with more than 16,000 Hmong residents. . . .

State officials praise Mr. Yang for translating the nitty-gritty of fish and game law for people from an ethnic group that can be wary of authority figures. Capt. Roy Griffith, who runs the fish and game agency’s hunter education program and has been an on-air guest of Mr. Yang, said Mr. Yang provided “a huge service to the state.” . . . State agencies overseeing hunting and fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin have hired Hmong speakers to educate, translate and work as cultural ambassadors to the Laotian immigrant population.

Cal State to Grant Degrees to WWII Internees

More than 70 Japanese Americans whose college careers at California State University campuses were derailed when they were sent to World War II internment camps are getting their diplomas. Six CSU campuses are awarding honorary degrees over the next three weeks to former students who were unable to complete their studies once they were forced into the camps established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942.

Some of the aging alumni plan to attend the special ceremonies and those who are deceased or unable to travel will be represented by their families. . . . Both the Cal State system and the University of California decided last year to belatedly honor the estimated 950 students of Japanese descent who were interned during the war. Students from four UC campuses – San Francisco, Berkeley, Davis and Los Angeles – received honorary degrees during winter commencement.

Asian Judge Nominee Shows Community’s Progress

Goodwin Liu, Associate Dean and professor at the University of California at Berkeley law school, is poised to become only the second Asian American judge in the federal appeals courts after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass his nomination to the full Senate for a vote. More generally, his success represents the progress of Asian Americans entering the highest levels of the judicial system.

Asian-Americans are 5 percent of the U.S. population and 15 percent of the doctors, but about 3 percent of the lawyers. When it comes to lawyers becoming federal judges, which requires strong networks and political connections, Asian-American representation is even smaller.

Ten of 875 active federal judges, just over 1 percent, are Asian-American, according to the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). On the appeals court level, which has outsized influence in shaping the nation’s laws, only one of 175 judges is Asian: Denny Chin, who was confirmed just last month.

If Liu is confirmed, he would join Chin and Harold Koh, former dean of Yale Law School and currently a State Department legal adviser, as potential candidates to be the first Asian judge on the Supreme Court. . . .

Asian-Americans constituted 8.1 percent of law school students in the fall of 2009, up from 7 percent in the fall of 2000, according to the Law School Admissions Council. And Obama has accelerated the pace of Asian nominations to the federal bench. George W. Bush placed four Asians on the bench and Bill Clinton five; Obama has nominated eight so far, including Liu.

Mayor Proclaims Houston-Nanjing Friendship Association Day

Annise Parker, mayor of the city of Houston, on Saturday proclaimed May 15, 2010 as “Houston-Nanjing Friendship Association Day”. In a proclamation to the newly-established association, Parker said Houston is a city of rich culture diversity and has been enriched by the presence and contributions of its citizens of Chinese ancestry.

“Houston recognizes their (Chinese ancestry) important role in the culture, civic, economic and spiritual life of our city,” Parker said, “A good relationship between Houston and Nanjing from economic, trade, tourism and culture exchange aspects would significantly benefit the citizens of these two cities, and also enhance the understandings and good relationships between the United States and China.”