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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.

April 7, 2011

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: April

If you’re the nostalgic type, you might be interested to read the following posts from April of years past:


December 22, 2010

Written by C.N.

First Results from 2010 Census

Earlier this week, the Census Bureau released its first official data from the 2010 census. They also produced the interactive graphic below where you can get more detailed numbers by state (you can visit the Census’s site for a full-screen version), but the main findings are:

  • As of April 1, 2010, the U.S.’s population is officially 308,745,538 — an increase of 9.7% from the 2000 census.
  • This 9.7% increase is much smaller than the 13.2% increase from 1990-2000 and actually is the smallest increase since 1940.
  • Nonetheless, the U.S.’s population is still growing faster than other industrialized nations: in the past decade, the populations in France and England each increased about 5%, about 6% in China, and 10% in Canada. Japan’s population is largely unchanged and is actually declining in Germany.

As news organizations such as MSNBC report, the 2010 Census data shows that several states in the South and West are gaining population (and some new seats in the House of Representatives) while a few states in the Northeast and Midwest are losing population:

The most populous state was California (37,253,956); the least populous, Wyoming (563,626). The state that gained the most numerically since 2010 was Texas (up 4,293,741 to 25,145,561); the state that gained the most as a percentage was Nevada (up 35 percent to 2,700,551).

Politically, Texas will gain four House seats due to a burgeoning Hispanic population and a diversified economy that held up relatively well during the recession. Other winners are GOP-leaning Arizona (1), Florida (2) . . . Georgia (1), South Carolina (1), Utah (1) and Washington (1).

States that lose seats are: Illinois (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), New York (2), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (1). The Ohio and New York losses typify many of the Democratic strongholds carried by Barack Obama in 2008 that saw declines in political influence. And, for the first time in its history, Democratic-leaning California did not gain a House seat after a census after losing many of its residents in the last decade to neighboring states.

It would seem that these latest Census numbers favor Republicans in the 2012 election. But as the New York Times points out, much of the population increase is due to the fast-growing Latino population:

[P]opulation gains in the South and West were driven overwhelmingly by minorities, particularly Hispanics, and the new districts, according to the rules of redistricting, will need to be drawn in places where they live, opening potential advantages for Democrats, who tend to be more popular among minorities. . . . [T]he most lasting political impact for Republicans and Democrats alike is the rise in the influence of Hispanic voters, particularly across Arizona, Nevada and Texas, which underscores the urgency facing both parties in finding new ways to appeal to Hispanics. In future presidential races, Democrats believe they can make inroads into Arizona and Texas, which are traditionally carried by Republicans, particularly if voters speak out against Arizona’s tough immigration law.

The way it’s shaping up, it looks like the Latino population will play a big role in determining who wins or loses many elections in the South and West. Given that, just last week, Republicans fought hard to defeat the DREAM Act and given their history of supporting (or at least being largely indifferent to) numerous anti-immigrant movements and legislation, it’s too early to say that Republicans will have an easy time in the 2010 elections.

Stay tuned . . .


October 14, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: October

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


September 20, 2010

Written by C.N.

14 Statistics for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. Below is an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics published by the Census Bureau for this occasion:

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

48.4 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2009, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16 percent of the nation’s total population. In addition, there are approximately 4 million residents of Puerto Rico, a Caribbean U.S. territory.

3.1%
Percentage increase in the Hispanic population between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, making Hispanics the fastest-growing minority group.

22.4 million
The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990 Census.

132.8 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 30 percent of the nation’s population by that date.

66%
The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in the United States who were of Mexican background in 2008. Another 9 percent were of Puerto Rican background, with 3.4 percent Cuban, 3.4 percent Salvadoran and 2.8 percent Dominican. The remainder was of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origin.

27.4 years
Median age of the Hispanic population in 2009. This compared with 36.8 years for the population as a whole.

107
Number of Hispanic males in 2009 per every 100 Hispanic females. This was in sharp contrast to the overall population, which had 97 males per every 100 females.

47%
The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lived in California or Texas in 2009. California was home to 13.7 million Hispanics, and Texas was home to 9.1 million.

46%
The percentage of New Mexico’s population that was Hispanic in 2009, the highest of any state (New Mexico had 916,000 Hispanics). Hispanics also made up at least one fifth of the population in California and Texas, at 37 percent each, followed by Arizona (31 percent), Nevada (26 percent), Florida (22 percent) and Colorado (20 percent).

50
Number of the nation’s 3,143 counties that were majority-Hispanic.

2.3 million
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 43.6 percent from 2002.

$345.2 billion
Receipts generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 55.5 percent from 2002.

35 million
The number of U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2008. Those who hablan español constituted 12 percent of U.S. residents. More than half of these Spanish speakers spoke English “very well.”

4
The number of Hispanic surnames ranked among the 15 most common in 2000. It was the first time that a Hispanic surname reached the top 15 during a census. Garcia was the most frequent Hispanic surname, occurring 858,289 times and placing eighth on the list — up from 18th in 1990. Rodriguez (ninth), Martinez (11th) and Hernandez (15th) were the next most common Hispanic surnames.


May 10, 2010

Written by C.N.

Arizona, Immigration Reform, and Where the Democratic Party Stands

As I’m sure almost everyone has heard about, a couple of weeks ago the Arizona legislature passed a new law (SB 1070), signed by the Governor, that allows local police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an unauthorized immigrant. In making being in the state without authorization a crime, Arizona police can then arrest and begin deportation proceedings against those who cannot properly document that they are legal immigrants.

As many critics of the law point out, the law basically legalizes racial profiling against Latinos, anyone who looks Latino and more generally people of color since it is highly unlikely that this new law can be carried out without the police resorting to racial profiling against the racial/ethnic group most often associated with the issue of unauthorized immigration: Latinos. In other words, it is highly unlikely that Whites will be stopped in large numbers by police and told to prove that they’re in the U.S. legally.

My family and I had plans on visiting Arizona this summer, seeing some friends, and camping at the Grand Canyon (it would have been my daughter’s first visit to the Grand Canyon). But along with many people in the U.S. and around the world who condemn this law, including many Asian Americans, we decided to act on our opposition to this new law by canceling our trip and are now boycotting Arizona. My daughter was disappointed but certainly understands and supports the reason behind it.

Others have written very detailed and convincing critiques of Arizona’s law and I don’t want to just echo what they’ve already said. Instead, I would like to reemphasize some points made by Debra J. Saunders at the San Francisco Chronicle. She points out that while it’s natural and generally for critics of Arizona’s law to focus on Republicans for condemnation, Democrats are not completely free of blame either:

President Obama called the Arizona law “misguided” and said he favors “commonsense comprehensive immigration reform.” It’s all lip service. President Obama reneged on his 2008 campaign pledge to push immigration reform – with a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens – during his first year in office because, well, it’s political poison.

At a Cinco de Mayo event last week, Obama had a new promise – “to begin work this year” on an immigration bill. In Spanish that translates into: Adios, amigos. Of course, not all Latino voters want to relax immigration laws, but to the extent that they do, they have guaranteed that the Democratic Party will take their votes for granted.

Meanwhile, why should Republicans stick their necks out for a demographic that abandoned John McCain in the 2008 presidential election? He risked his political ambitions by pushing for a federal bill with a pathway to citizenship in 2007 and then, according to an Edison/Mitofsky exit poll, McCain won a lousy 31 percent of the Latino vote- down from George W. Bush’s 44 percent in the 2004 presidential contest.

Obama helped kill that bill, and he won 67 percent of the demographic.

When it’s in their interests, Democrats ditch their pro-illegal immigration corner. In 2003, the Democratic California Legislature passed a bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Voters revolted and recalled Gov. Gray Davis, who signed the measure. In a craven act of cowardice, the Legislature quickly voted to rescind the bill it had passed.

In 2009, the Obama administration deported 5 percent more illegal immigrants than the Bush administration deported in 2008. As part of his immigration reform proposal, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, is pushing for a national ID card for all American workers – the very type of documentation that critics of the Arizona law have said will turn Arizona into the “Your papers, please” state.

Saunders’ last point about Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer deserves particular attention. A few months ago, Schumer and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham laid out their “blueprint” for comprehensive immigration reform (this was before the Arizona law as passed). As printed in the Washington Post, some of their provisions directly mirror the anti-immigrant sentiment that prompted the Arizona law:

We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card. . . . We would bolster recent efforts to secure our borders by increasing the Border Patrol’s staffing and funding for infrastructure and technology. More personnel would be deployed to the border immediately to fill gaps in apprehension capabilities.

Other steps include expanding domestic enforcement to better apprehend and deport those who commit crimes and completing an entry-exit system that tracks people who enter the United States on legal visas and reports those who overstay their visas to law enforcement databases. . . .

For the 11 million immigrants already in this country illegally . . . they would be required to admit they broke the law and to pay their debt to society by performing community service and paying fines and back taxes. These people would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English before going to the back of the line of prospective immigrants to earn the opportunity to work toward lawful permanent residence.

Regardless of their political ideology, almost everyone generally agrees that as it stands, our current immigration system and policies are broken and need to be fixed. For years, conservatives have argued for an strict “enforcement first” approach that focuses on keeping unauthorized immigrants from entering in the first place and deporting as many as possible those already in the U.S. (or at least making life so miserable for them that they voluntarily leave the country).

Historically, Democrats have supported a more forgiving approach to immigration reform that, while acknowledging their unauthorized status, also recognizes the contributions that they make to the economy through sales, income, and other taxes that they pay and in making labor-intensive industries such as agriculture and construction more globally competitive, to name just a few.

But nowadays, as Julia Preston at the New York Times writes, it seems that Democrats have become just as “enforcement-first” as Republicans:

The enforcement would be more far-reaching than anything in place now — or anything proposed by the administration of President George W. Bush. It begins with “zero tolerance” for immigrants trying to enter the country illegally, by tightening border enforcement and by barring them from taking jobs in the United States.

“It shows how far the Democrats have moved in terms of tougher and tougher enforcement,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who studies immigration. “Across the board you see language that would be very comfortable in a proposal written by Republicans.”

This change in direction by the Democratic Party is not an encouraging sign for supporters of addressing the issue of unauthorized immigration in a more holistic manner (recognizing the humanity of the people involved, the economic reasons many decide to enter the U.S. in the first place, the diversity of the unauthorized immigrant population to include not just border crossers but visa overstayers, and the contributions they make to the U.S.). In fact, while there are still some Democratic politicians who share these beliefs, I would say that as a rule, we can no longer rely on the Democratic party or Democratic politicians to be a staunch ally in terms of supporting a humanistic and holistic approach to comprehensive reform. And as much as I hate to say it, this includes President Obama.

Granted, much of the change in attitude among Democratic politicians toward a stricter “enforcement-first” approach is due to the practical realities of wanting to appeal to their mostly White constituents to get reelected (itself a reflection of the emerging White backlash movement). Nonetheless, for many liberals like me, seeing the Democratic Party distancing itself from their traditional support of true comprehensive immigration reform feels like a kick in the stomach and a betrayal.

At least when it comes to the issue of immigration reform, many within the Democratic Party seem to be making choosing what’s convenient over what’s right.


August 7, 2009

Written by C.N.

Congratulations to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

I just wanted to add my heartfelt congratulations to Sonia Sotomayor, who was just confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be our country’s first Latino Supreme Court Justice (FYI, she is also just the third woman and third non-White Supreme Court Justice).

Justice Sotomayor’s personal story is very inspiring and pretty well-known by now, as are the racially-tinged attacks on her by some conservatives and critics. Nonetheless, her appointment is a monumental step forward in terms of breaking the glass ceiling one person at a time, toward achieving racial equality.

It is also a significant moment of pride for Latino Americans and just as important, for the entire country, regardless of our racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural background. This video segment from ABC’s Nightline describes how Sotomayor’s appointment connects all of us as Americans.


January 29, 2009

Written by C.N.

Boys Scouts Recruiting Latinos

In many of my posts on this blog, one consistent theme has been the ways in which American society and institutions are adapting to the increasing racial/ethnic diversity taking place in our society as a result of demographics and globalization.

Within this context, a second point that I have emphasized is that these changes take place on both sides of the fence — among White Americans and among people of color/newcomers.
Recently, Newsweek magazine had an article that illustrates this two-way process very clearly — specifically, in regards to how the Boy Scouts of America are trying to attract more Latinos:

The Scouts have staked their future on Latinos for a simple reason: demographics. Hispanics account for more than one fifth of kids under the age of 5 and are projected to make up one quarter of the nation’s population by 2050. . . . A vast second generation of Latinos is just now emerging from elementary school, offering the Scouts fertile ground for recruiting. . . .

These kids have distinctive traits. . . . [T]hey straddle cultures nimbly. They speak Spanish at home and English at school. They retain traditional values like respect for their elders, but also embrace American ambition and individualism. They’re proud to be Latino and consider themselves cultural vanguardists, yet they’re eager to participate in broader youth culture and wary of “Hispanic products” that single them out. . . .

Hoping to invigorate Latino outreach, [the BSA] hired Carlos Alcazar in 2007. Alcazar [found that] when Hispanic families joined the Scouts, they loved it. But he identified two main problems: Latino ignorance of the BSA, which gave way to rumors that it was some sort of government or military outfit, and a lack of bilingual staff and volunteers to accommodate new recruits and their parents. . . .

The BSA has created a national office for Hispanic initiatives, begun hiring local Latino staff and started crafting a national ad campaign. It has also launched six pilot projects in cities across the country to test new marketing proposals. . . .

The one in Orlando, where Puerto Ricans have been migrating in droves, is led by Eric Santiago. . . . The multitude of misconceptions (“Are you grooming child soldiers?” “Are you going to force my kid to kill a rabbit and eat it?”) can be tiring. When families do express interest, the next challenge is to accommodate their schedules, which are often strained by long hours in service-sector jobs.

More dispiriting still, he has encountered xenophobia on a few occasions. When he visited a school once, an elderly white Eagle Scout wanted to hand off a number of Latino kids rather than integrate them into his troop. “I don’t want to deal with the parents,” he told Santiago. “If they come to us, they should learn English.” Such sentiments have cropped up elsewhere, too, such as this online comment in response to an article about Hispanic recruitment in Delaware: “If they (hispanics) want to fit in—then THEY HAVE to make the changes, not the AMERICAN BOY Scouts of AMERIA [sic].”

As I mentioned, in order for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to be successful in attracting more Latino scouts, adjustments need to be made on both sides. For the BSA, it means not merely translating existing materials into Spanish and calling it a day, but fundamentally changing their organization to incorporate the culture and characteristics of the Latino population.

And it also means confronting the unfortunate xenophobia and racially-ignorant resistance towards doing so, as the comment in the quote above shows. In doing so, the BSA will go a long way toward erasing its traditional image of being “quintessentially White, suburban and middle class.”

For Latinos, it means discarding their inaccurate preconceptions about the BSA being some kind of government or military organization, and that it’s only for suburban, middle class Whites.

In other words, one reason for Latinos or any other underrepresented racial/ethnic group to join the BSA is not so they can “act White” and completely assimilate into “mainstream” American society but rather, to have the opportunity to both broaden their cultural environment and continue incorporating elements of traditional American culture into their lives and second, to bring their culture into the BSA and infuse it with new and diverse elements.

In fact, that’s basically a microcosm of contemporary American racial/ethnic assimilation in general.

———————-

Update: On March 4, 2009, NBC Nightly News did a short segment on the cultural emergence of the Latino American community in general and specifically, how the Boy Scouts are trying to recruit more of them:


October 2, 2008

Written by C.N.

Exploring Asian and Latino Connections

Many scholars and students of ethnic studies know firsthand that when it comes to studying the history and experiences of different groups of color in American society, much of the work involves filling in the gaps perpetrated over time by focusing our attention almost exclusively on our own racial/ethnic group, such as Asian American Studies.

While this “parochial” focus on our own community certainly has its benefits, the main drawback is that it ignores the interconnections that exist between communities of color, both historically and in today’s contemporary society as it continues to become ever more globalized and transnational.

But as Diverse Issues in Education reports, there is a burgeoning movement in ethnic studies to bring greater attention to the historical, cultural, and political connections between Asian Americans and Latino Americans:

The notion of Asians living and thriving among U.S. Hispanics as well as the Asian diaspora in the Caribbean, Mexico and South America is by no means unfathomable. Nor is it new. Take world politics, for example. Peru elected Alberto Fujimori its president in 1990, an office he held for 10 years. Fujimori’s parents had emigrated from Japan before World War II.

Only about 20 years ago did U.S. scholars begin taking a closer look at the stories of how and why people left the Far East for countries such as Brazil, Cuba and Peru, says Dr. Evelyn Hu-De- Hart, a Brown University professor of history and ethnic studies who is considered a pioneer in the study of Asian-Hispanic intersections. She is also director of Brown’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. . . .

Yet scholars examining such transnational communities and relationships often fend off skepticism from peers in longer-established, clearly defined academic disciplines who wonder about the relevancy of their pursuits, novelty aside. . . .

López, for example, has traveled to Cuba almost annually since 1999 to document the revitalization of Havana’s Chinatown district. Nowadays, Cuba’s regime encourages the Chinese, whose ancestors worked alongside African slaves on 19th-century plantations, to get in better touch with their heritage. The opening of schools teaching traditional Chinese dance, language and art is viewed as an investment in boosting tourism, López says.

As these scholars explore and describe in much more detail in their work, thousands of Asian immigrants came to and eventually settled in countries in Latin and South America, in many cases before the first large-scale immigration to the U.S. started in the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Asian Americans aren’t aware of these historic patterns because we’re focused on the U.S. and its history.

But as these scholars again describe for us, there is a very rich and vibrant history of the interconnections between Asians and Latinos here in the western hemisphere. Not only that, but as American society, this hemisphere, and the world in general continue to become more globalized and transnational, these connections are likely to become even more significant for years to come — culturally, economically, and politically.


September 15, 2008

Written by C.N.

Hispanic Heritage Month Begins Today

September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. Below is an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics published by the Census Bureau for this occasion:

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15).

America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

45.5 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2007, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority, constituting 15 percent of the nation’s total population. In addition, there are approximately 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.

22.4 million
The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990 Census — less than half the current total.

102.6 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 24 percent of the nation’s population by that date.

64%
The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in the United States who are of Mexican background. Another 9% are of Puerto Rican background, with 3.4% Cuban, 3.1% Salvadoran and 2.8% Dominican. The remainder are of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origin.

27.6 years
Median age of the Hispanic population in 2007. This compares with 36.6 years for the population as a whole.

48%
The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lives in California or Texas. California is home to 13.2 million Hispanics, and Texas is home to 8.6 million.

16
The number of states with at least a half-million Hispanic residents. They are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

1.6 million
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002.

$222 billion
Revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, up 19 percent from 1997.

$37,781
The median income of Hispanic households in 2006, statistically unchanged from the previous year after adjusting for inflation.

20.6%
The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2006, down from 21.8 percent in 2005.

60%
The percentage of Hispanics 25 and older who had at least a high school education in 2007.

13%
The percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007.

11%
Percentage of all college students in October 2006 who were Hispanic. Among elementary and high school students combined, the corresponding proportion was 19 percent.

17%
The percentage of Hispanics 16 or older who work in management, professional and related occupations. Roughly the same percentage work in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations. Approximately 24% of Hispanics 16 or older work in service occupations; 22% in sales and office occupations; and 18% in production, transportation and material moving occupations.

7.6 million
The number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2004 presidential election. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting — about 47% — did not change statistically from four years earlier.

1.1 million
The number of Hispanic veterans of the U.S. armed forces.