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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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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.

March 11, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: March

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


February 25, 2010

Written by C.N.

Vancouver Olympic Inclusiveness, Except for Asians

Many of you probably watched the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Much has been made of the ethnic and cultural inclusiveness of these Olympics, particularly as the first Olympics to include indigenous groups, as a reflection of Canada’s long and rich history of cultural diversity.

The Olympic Torch at the Opening Ceremonies © Richard Heathcote

But has everyone been included appropriately? As reported by the Associated Press, the Asian Canadian community in Vancouver feels particularly left out, especially considering that they make up 30% of Vancouver’s population:

The Olympic opening ceremony celebrated Canada’s aboriginals and French speakers, but gave little hint of Vancouver’s huge, dynamic Asian population. Dismayed civic leaders are pleading for a different story at the closing show.

“It was a slap in the face,” Indo-Canadian activist Sukhi Sandhu said Thursday, referring to the opening show’s cultural segment. . . . Sandhu and his allies have called on the Vancouver Organizing Committee to ensure that the closing ceremony convey more of the character of greater Vancouver, where Chinese and South Asians comprise 30 percent of the area’s 2 million people. . . .

VANOC’s CEO, John Furlong, addressed the complaints this week, saying it was a “complex challenge” to portray Canada’s ethnic mosaic. He indicated it was too late to modify the closing ceremony, but suggested that by the end of the show there would be no doubt “who we are and who is here.” . . .

[T]hree French-Canadians were among the final 13 people given prestigious roles in the final stages of the ceremony, either helping carry the Olympic flag or assisting in the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Sandhu and other critics were outraged that none of the 13 was what Canada classifies as “visible minorities” — Asians, blacks and other nonwhites.

“Why not Donovan Bailey? Why not Daniel Igali?” asked Sandhu, referring to the Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter who once held the world 100-meter record and the Nigerian-born wrestler who won an Olympic gold medal for Canada in 2000.

Alden Habacon, founder of an online magazine called Schema that covers multicultural trends, said he took note during the opening telecast when the Olympic flag emerged “carried by an all-white cast of Canadian heroes.”

“Don’t get me wrong — I love all of them,” he wrote. “The point is, if you were watching the opening ceremonies on television, you wouldn’t even know that it took place in the most Asian city in North America. Have any of the producers been to a high school in Vancouver?”

To give credit where credit is due, I was impressed by the amount and ways in which Canada’s indigenous groups were included in the opening ceremonies. I found their performances to be very majestic and inspiring, although I have to admit that I was a little uneasy that perhaps they were being put “on display” like some kind of museum artifact. Also, I appreciate that it can be difficult to ensure that all racial/ethnic/cultural groups are included appropriate, especially in such an ethnically diverse country as Canada.

Having said that, unfortunately, this apparent oversight on the part of Vancouver’s and Canada’s Olympic organizers seems to be another example of Asians — whether they’re in the U.S., Canada, or any other White-majority country — being treated as invisible minorities, in ironic contrast to their status as “visible minorities.”

Asian Americans certainly know this feeling of exclusion or ridicule too well and it is sad to see that in a country like Canada that, in many cases, prides itself on being more racially/ethnically tolerant than the U.S., these dynamics of marginalization toward our Asian Canadian counterparts apparently operate in much the same way.


September 4, 2009

Written by C.N.

New Books: Emerging Perspectives of Color

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.

The following two books connect history with the emerging 21st century from the point of view of African American and indigenous groups, respectively.

The End of White World Supremacy: Black Internationalism and the Problem of the Color Line, by Rod Bush (Temple University Press)

The End of White World Supremacy by Roderick Bush

The End of White World Supremacy explores a complex issue— integration of Blacks into White America—from multiple perspectives: within the United States, globally, and in the context of movements for social justice. Roderick Bush locates himself within a tradition of African American activism that goes back at least to W.E.B. Du Bois. In so doing, he communicates between two literatures—worldsystems analysis and radical Black social movement history—and sustains the dialogue throughout the book.

Bush explains how racial troubles in the U.S. are symptomatic of the troubled relationship between the white and dark worlds globally. Beginning with an account of white European dominance leading to capitalist dominance by White America, The End of White World Supremacy ultimately wonders whether, as Myrdal argued in the 1940s, the American creed can provide a pathway to break this historical conundrum and give birth to international social justice.

Indigenous Peoples and Globalization: Resistance and Revitalization, by Thomas Hall and James Fenelon (Paradigm Publishers)

Indigenous Peoples and Globalization by Hall and Fenelon

The issues native peoples face intensify with globalization. Through case studies from around the world, Hall and Fenelon demonstrate how indigenous peoples? movements can only be understood by linking highly localized processes with larger global and historical forces.

The authors show that indigenous peoples have been resisting and adapting to encounters with states for millennia. Unlike other anti-globalization activists, indigenous peoples primarily seek autonomy and the right to determine their own processes of adaptation and change, especially in relationship to their origin lands and community. The authors link their analyses to current understandings of the evolution of globalization.