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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.
In my travels around the internet, I recently came across three interesting infographics related to race/ethnicity and immigration.
The first one is a “Map of American Slavery,” published in the New York Times (small thumbnail below, you can click on it to go to the larger version at the NY Times site). For casual historians like me, it is interesting to see that the counties that had the highest concentration of slaves were generally located along the Mississippi River and whose labor was in demand the most to facilitate trade, further reinforcing the notion that so much of the American south’s economy was fundamentally tied to slavery.
The second interesting infographic is entitled “Who is Marrying Whom,” also was published by the New York Times, and shows a visual breakdown of interracial marriage across the major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. (again, you can click on the thumbnail below to see the full-size version). In looking it over, some of the most interesting results are:
The groups that seem to have the highest rates of being interracially married are American Indians and Black Hispanics.
The largest gender disparities are among Blacks and Asian Americans, although the gender pattern is the opposite for each: Black men are 124% more likely to be interracially married than Black women, while Asian American women are 125% more likely to be married interracially than Asian American men.
Since around 1990 or so, interracial marriage rates have actually been declining for White Hispanics and American Indians. Moreover, for Asian Americans, they’ve been generally declining since 1980. For White Hispanics and Asian Americans, I believe much of this decline is due to the large influx of immigrants since the ’80s and ’90s, many of whom are already married as they arrive in the U.S. or are less likely to intermarry in general. As such, it would be interesting to see these same numbers for just U.S.-raised members of these racial groups (those who were born in the U.S. or arrived at at 13 or younger and therefore, and therefore were socialized within the U.S. racial landscape).
The interracial marriage graphic is linked to an interesting article also on the NY Times site that discusses the growing multiracial/mixed-race population in the U.S. and how they are increasingly forging their own identity that combines elements of both sides of their ancestry, rather than trying to fit themselves into preexisting and frequently narrowly-defined racial/ethnic categories, as this video clip shows:
A third interesting infographic was published by the National Geographic Society, titled “What’s in a Surname?” and shows some of the most common surnames in different geographic parts of the U.S. The map confirms what demographers have noted for some time now — racial/ethnic minorities (represented here by their surnames) are increasingly becoming the majority population in many parts of the U.S. (again, click on the thumbnail below to view the larger interactive graphic at the National Geographic Society site).
As one example, in the southern California part of the map, some of the most common surnames are Garcia, Martinez, Hernandez and even Nguyen (a nod to the huge Vietnamese American “Little Saigon” community in Orange County). There are further large concentrations of Latino surnames (represented in red) in the southwestern U.S., southern Florida, and upstate New York as well. And unbeknown to me, there is apparently a large contingent of Koreans named “Kim” in central California.
It seems that every successive generation of Americans has to have a name or label. I’m sure you’re already familiar with the “Baby Boomer” generation that was born in the two decades after World War 2. Most have presumably also heard of “Generation X” (to which I belong), who were born between 1965 and 1980.
Most recently, we have the “Millennial” generation — those born between 1981 and 2000. Growing up in the age of computers, the Internet, cellphones, social networking, and multimedia proliferation, in many ways the Millennials represent a milestone generation within American society. To capture and describe some of their characteristics, the Pew Research Center recently conducted a series of reports on various demographic and cultural traits and attitudes of this generation. Below are some highlights of their report that relate to the cultural and racial/ethnic views and composition of the Millennial generation:
They are the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history. Among those ages 13 to 29: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are Black; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8%, a record low, are White.
They are starting out as the most politically progressive age group in modern history. In the 2008 election, Millennials voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by 66%-32%, while adults ages 30 and over split their votes 50%-49%. In the four decades since the development of Election Day exit polling, this is the largest gap ever seen in a presidential election between the votes of those under and over age 30. . . .
They are the least religiously observant youths since survey research began charting religious behavior. . . .
The graph shows the percentage approving of interracial dating for each of four cohorts (or generations), tracking their responses across the 13 separate waves of polling between 1987 and 2009. Several things are evident from the graph. One is that there is an upward trend in acceptance of interracial dating in most cohorts as time passes. . . .
Another conclusion from the graph is that each younger cohort is more supportive than the cohorts that preceded it. Baby Boomers were more supportive in 1987 than members of the Silent Generation, and remained that way throughout. Generation X (at 82%) was more supportive than the Baby Boomers when it first appeared in the surveys. And the Millennial cohort is the most supportive of all.
The part of the Pew reports about the racial/ethnic composition of the Millennials was not surprising, although I expected the proportion Asian American to be a little higher. Nor am I surprised that the Millennials tend to be the least religious of all the generations, although I expect their levels of religious participation to increase as they get older.
I am also not surprised that the Millennials are the most supportive of interracial dating, as the graph illustrates. However, in looking at the graph, it shows that somewhere around 2007, the approval rates for interracial dating actually declined slightly for Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. Further, at this point, we do not yet know whether the approval rate for interracial dating will continue to decline, or whether it will rebound and continue its upward trajectory.
I find this recent development a little perplexing, particularly considering that was when Barack Obama, the child of an interracial couple, began his rise in popularity on the way to the Presidency. I am left to wonder, could it be due to the subtle rising White backlash against the increasing levels of racial/ethnic diversity in this country?
In other words, as I’ve written about before, starting even before Barack Obama’s rise in popularity and even accelerating ever since, there were indications, events, and incidents that showed how racial/ethnic relations in the U.S. were becoming increasingly polarized, with a rising group of White Americans increasingly feeling resentful and threatened by such demographic and cultural changes taking place in “their” community and “their” country.
If that is indeed the case, the Millennial generation indeed represents a watershed moment in the evolution of American society. On the one hand, they might replicate the racial/ethnic and cultural splintering of the country that may lead to the de facto split of American society into a White part and a non-White part. On the other hand, the Millennials have the opportunity to draw upon their shared institutional beliefs and cultural practices and help the country heal its racial/ethnic divides and lead us toward coalescing into a true multicultural nation.
I believe that this will be the primary challenge — and ultimate legacy — of this Millennial generation.
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.
This particular book examines a consistently controversial and hot-button topic among all Americans, but particularly Asian Americans — interracial dating and marriage. The author’s findings are not likely to end the disagreements about the racial and gender dynamics inherent within such unions and may even add more fuel to the fire, but nonetheless it is a worthy contribution to the discussion.
Despite being far from the norm, interracial relationships are more popular than ever. Racing Romance sheds special light on the bonds between Whites and Asian Americans, an important topic that has not garnered well-deserved attention until now. Incorporating life-history narratives and interviews with those currently or previously involved with an interracial partner, Kumiko Nemoto addresses the contradictions and tensions — a result of race, class, and gender — that Asian Americans and Whites experience.
Similar to Black/White relationships, stereotypes have long played crucial roles in Asian American/White encounters. Partners grapple with media representations of Asian women as submissive or hypersexual and Asian men are often portrayed as weak laborers or powerful martial artists. Racing Romance reveals how allegedly progressive interracial relationships remain firmly shaped by the logic of patriarchy and gender inherent to the ideal of marriage, family, and nation in America, even as this ideal is juxtaposed with discourses of multiculturalism and color blindness.
Here are some more links out that have come my way relating to Asians or Asian Americans. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents:
Interracial Couples in New York City Needed for Documentary:
Hello, I’m a documentary filmmaker who is looking for an interracial couple based in New York to be the subjects of a film I’m making. I was wondering if could send you a description of what I’m looking for that you could distribute to your network. It would be very much appreciated!
17th Annual Taiwanese American Cultural Festival:
Saturday, May 09, 2009, 10 AM to 6 PM
Union Square, San Francisco
Celebrate Taiwanese American Heritage Week with food, demonstrations and musical performances! Musical acts include traditional Taiwanese folk
music by the O Kai A Capella Singers, a Taiwanese aborigine group, and pop music by local Asian American artists. Celebrate our green theme with our orchid display or hear energy talks by Silicon Valley industry experts. Free and fun for the entire family!
As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I will be mentioning new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them.
As always, please remember that I highlight them for informational purposes only and do not necessarily endorse their entire content or arguments. If you know of a recent book that I should mention, just let me know. With that in mind, here is the first such mention:
Once They Hear My Name is a step forward in our collective understanding of the cultural hurdles international adoptees tackle every day. In their own words, the nine Korean adoptees of Once They Hear My Name’ talk about how they became the adults they are today, speaking candidly about acceptance and rejection, about life struggles and successes, about experiences unique to each yet connected by common threads.
At their core these stories chronicle adoptees’ ongoing, and often difficult, quests to discover who they are. Growing up, they initially viewed themselves as typical American kids at home with baseball, pizza, playing with dolls and the rest. But often their peers – and sometimes members of their own families – saw them as strangers, good targets for ugly stereotypes.
Many of the nine adoptees chronicle their trips as adults back to Korea to find their roots and, in some cases, their birth families. These journeys yield mixed emotional results. The narratives illustrate the wide variety of ways all adoptees, not just those from Korea, and all Americans with cultural roots in Asia, wrestle with identity issues.
I received the following announcement from a reader who is looking to publicize his video project on Asian American interracial couples and about Asian Americans in the media. As always, links are provided for information only and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of its contents.
Here are two 30 minute shows I have on YouTube (see link below). I discuss the obstacles & oppositions that interracial couples face (my wife is African American & we have a beautiful daughter) and I also interview people on the street & ask their opinions of interracial marriages.
The second video is of NC’s only Asian Anchor/Reporter, Julie Luck of Fox News. As an Asian male I find that we are still a scare sight in the media and when we are rarely seen it is often as a kung fu fool or in a negative stereotype. I discuss those issues along with issues that are unique to Asian Americans in the media.
The channel I am on reaches 200,000 homes all around our city and surrounding counties. We find that fifty percent of the callers and people who stop us on the street are supportive & the other half are negative. I hope with Asian activist like yourself we can change perceptions and create more opportunities for Asian males…maybe we’ll see an Asian James Bond, Indiana Jones, Batman or President of The United States!