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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.

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.


September 2, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: September

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


July 14, 2010

Written by C.N.

Links & Announcements #29

Here are some more announcements and links out that have come my way relating to Asians, Asian Americans, or racial/ethnic minorities in general. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents.

Teaching Fellowships in China

The Overseas Young Chinese Forum (“OYCF”), a non-profit organization based in the United States, is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its Teaching Fellowships, which sponsor short term teaching trips by overseas scholars or professionals (Chinese or non-Chinese) to universities or other comparable advanced educational institutions in China. The subjects of teaching include all fields of humanities and social sciences, such as anthropology, art, communication, economics, education, geography, law, literatures, philosophy, political science, sociology, etc.

OYCF will grant 15 fellowship awards to support short term teaching trips during the Academic Year of 2010-11, including five (5) OYCF-Ford fellowships in the amount of $2,500 each and ten (10) OYCF-Gregory C. and Paula K. Chow fellowships in the amount of $2,000 each. The application deadline is August 15, 2010. Awards will be announced on September 15, 2010. More information can be found at: http://www2.asanet.org/sectionasia/jobs.html

Fighting Anti-Asian School Violence: The Philadelphia Story

Date: Saturday, July 24
Time: 3-5 PM
Location: Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
Community Room 38 Ash St. Boston Chinatown

Featuring:

  • Helen Gym, Asian Americans United
  • Cecilia Chen, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Students from South Philadelphia High School

On December 3rd, some students at South Philadelphia High School attacked other students, two dozen Asian American youth, while school personnel looked on. The Asian American students, supported by community members and others, have organized, marched and met with an unresponsive school administration. A civil rights suit is being pursued.

What happened? How did the students and community build an effective coalition, what is the legal case and situation, did anti-immigrant sentiment played any role, and are Asian American students facing similar issues locally? What can we do? We hope to discuss these and other questions with principals in Philadelphia and local activists.

Sponsors: Asian/Pacific Islander Movement, Institute for Asian American Studies at University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, A-WAY Youth Collaborative, Massachusetts Asian American Resource Workshop, Asian American Educators Association.

Asian MBA Leadership Conference

It is our great pleasure to invite the professional community to participate at the 2nd Asian MBA Leadership Conference and Career Expo (AMBA) which will be held from August 26th to 28th, 2010 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

In 2009 we made history with the launch of this groundbreaking event. Over 2,500 present and emerging leaders from the pan-Asian community came together to rise to new heights and to overcome barriers faced in the corporate world. AMBA, through its inaugural event, was the spring board for many new careers and helped to propel numerous more to greater horizons.

Over the course of two and a half days, Asian American MBAs, professionals and executives will be a part of the largest professional development, recruiting and networking event ever staged for the community. AMBA’s Leadership Conference will comprise of a comprehensive forum of events including presentations from acclaimed keynote speakers, expert panel discussions, workshops, networking sessions, the AMBA Global Diversity Forum and Asian Affinity Group Leaders Summit and the prestigious Gala Awards Leadership Dinner. AMBA’s career expo offers an unparalleled opportunity for leading companies to connect with the nation’s best Asian American talent.

Call for Papers: Asian American Mixed Race Literature

Call for Papers — Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogies (AALDP), Special Issue on Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Special Issue Guest Editor, Wei Ming Dariotis. War babies, love children, tragic half-breeds, cosmopolitan saviors — how are mixed heritage Asian Americans imagined in Asian American literature, drama, and film? How are they represented in literature by people who are not Mixed Heritage Asian Americans? How are mixed heritage Asian Americans imagining and expressing themselves?

This special issue invites scholars and writers to explore how one might teach such narratives and texts in various academic contexts. While traditional pedagogical lenses are appropriate, we especially encourage Critical Mixed Race Studies approaches to analyzing mixed heritage Asian American literature.

Additionally, some themes to consider might include:

  • Mixed heritage Asian American characters in literature by authors of heritage other than Asian American
  • Mixed heritage Asian American characters in science fiction and fantasy, or other “genre” literature
  • Mixed heritage Asian American children’s literature
  • Queer themes in mixed heritage Asian American literature
  • Asian American transracial adoptees
  • Transnational mixed heritage Asian American identities
  • Multigenerational mixed heritage Asian Americans
  • Multiple-minority mixed heritage Asian Americans

Song lyrics, spoken word, and other non-traditional forms exploring mixed heritage identity would also be welcome (e.g. Colin “Senbei” Ehara’s “Paper Bullets”). All articles must be between 2,000-7,000 words. Please follow the most current MLA format. Book reviews on related texts are also welcome. Book reviews must be under 1,000 words. Please follow the most current MLA format.

Please address all inquiries for this Special Issue to Dr. Wei Ming Dariotis at wmdariotis@yahoo.com. Full final articles must be submitted by July 1, 2011.

Call for Submissions: Asian American ‘Art Slam’

Hi, I am part of a not-for-profit organization called Asian American Art Centre at NYC. For the past several years, the Asian American Arts Centre has held a series of slide slams, allowing new, young, or emerging artists the opportunity to present and talk about their work, meet and network with each other as well as with more established artists and critics/curators.

Last year, the Centre hosted three slide slams, showcasing the work of fifteen artists working in various media. This august we are planning to host two art slams. We need your help to spread the word. Can you publish this artist opportunity at your website or post our website as a link? Thanks…Here is the description for the call.

ArtSlam is an opportunity for artists to share their work with peers, general audience and art professionals in an open forum for critical exchange. This presentation can be done in slides or digital format. We are inviting all artists of Asian and Asian-American descent as well as those who have been significantly influenced by Asia to submit their work for participation.

If you are interested in participating, please send us:

  • 6-10 images of your work (CD with images in jpg. format, slides or photographs are fine)
  • 1 page artist statement
  • Abbreviated artist statement (2-3 lines) for the program
  • Artist resume
  • Completed information form

Send all submission materials to:
Email: aaacinfo@artspiral.org

Or mail to: Asian American Arts Centre
111 Norfolk St., Ground Flr.
New York, NY 10002
ATTN: ArtSlam 2010


December 14, 2009

Written by C.N.

Escalation of Student Racial Violence in Philadelphia

Back in September, I wrote about a pattern of racial violence between predominantly African American and Asian American groups of students in schools in the South Philadelphia area. Unfortunately in recent weeks, the violence seems to have escalated, as described in the news video segment below:

My fellow Asian American blogger Angry Asian Man has done a nice job of covering these events and chronicling the developments that include large numbers of Asian American students boycotting classes last week and an emotional emergency meeting of students, parents, community leaders, and school officials in which students described in detail the brutal nature of such attacks.

In my previous post, I covered the sociological background of these kinds of racial violence incidents includes demographic changes taking places in many Philadelphia neighborhoods and the cultural instability that arises from having to adjust to new neighbors and a changing racial/ethnic landscape. This situation is further complicated by economic insecurity leading to scapegoating and displaced aggression on the part of the attackers.

However, there is one important point that I did not discuss in great detail in regard to these particular incidents (but did in a previous post on similar incidents of racial violence in New York City), and which the Asian American students themselves emphasized in their public testimony and descriptions. Specifically, that point is that the violence itself is bad enough. What makes it even worse is that many school officials, staff, teachers, and security personnel have repeatedly ignored the students complaints and concerns and in some cases, have even cheered on the attackers:

” ‘As soon as we open our mouths and speak, they treat us like we’re animals,’ ” Ellen Somekawa, executive director of Asian Americans United quoted a Vietnamese student. ” ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Hey, Chinese.’ ‘Yo Dragon Ball.’ ‘Are you Bruce Lee?’ ‘Speak English!’ ” Somekawa said the students are told.

Those aren’t the words of the students who harass Asians, she said. “They are the words of the adult staff at South Philadelphia High. So stop blaming the children and start owning the responsibility.” . . . The protesters carried signs, some reading: “Stop School Violence,” “It’s Not a Question of Who Beat Whom, but WHO LET IT HAPPEN” and “Grown-ups Let Us Down.” . . .

Over and over again, Asian community leaders said the real problem is “not just a bunch of bad kids,” but the school’s leadership.

Xu Lin, community organizer for the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., said community members were upset during a meeting with school officials last Friday “to see the principal playing with her cell phone when the students and their parents were giving statements about the violence that had occurred the day before. We were even more offended to see the safety manager . . . sleeping during the meeting in front of the whole community.”

A number of Asian students pointed out that they have African-American friends who have helped them with their English and have been nice to them. . . At one point, a multiracial contingent of South Philadelphia High students asked the Asian students to come back to school.

It is truly sad to see that those whose job it is to promote a positive learning environment and racial tolerance are actually a big part of the problem and make such racial tensions worse. In order to effectively address this situation, we need to find those responsible for such attacks, regardless of what racial/ethnic background they are, and deal with them in a way that punishes their actions without criminalizing them and turning them into “repeat racists.”

But just as important, the school officials, teachers, staff, and security personnel who failed in their jobs to protect these students need to be disciplined as well, including being fired if necessary. I personally have no tolerance for officials who shirk their paid responsibilities and in some cases, apparently misuse their authority and actually contribute to the bullying taking place.

In the same way that we chastise and clamor for the termination of government officials who fail to do their jobs and in fact engage in various forms of misuse of power or malfeasance, these school officials and other adults involved have failed miserably in their professional duties and moral obligations and can no longer be trusted and therefore deserve to be fired.

Sometimes, it is only when you “clear house” and start from scratch that true change and healing can begin. I wish everyone involved, especially the Asian American students, the best success in resolving these differences and healing their physical and emotional wounds.


September 8, 2009

Written by C.N.

Economic Competition and Intra-Minority Tensions

It is an unfortunate reality in contemporary American society that from time to time, an economic recession occurs, such as the one we’re in right now. As sociologists have documented over and over again, when people experience financial difficulties, many also begin to feel insecure, threatened, and defensive. In such times, it is also common for people to lash out at those around them who they see as a threat to their security or at least someone who contributes to the larger economic difficulties that they are experiencing.

Many have argued that it is this climate of social insecurity that is responsible for the overheated and often viscous arguments taking place all around the U.S. these days around issues such as health care reform. As another example and as described in a recent article from the Philadelphia Weekly, this is exactly what seems to be happening in and around neighborhoods of South Philadelphia, where there have been numerous physical attacks and assaults committed against Asian American students:

Dozens of the alleged incidents are relatively minor—name-calling, verbal threats, petty robberies, random punches in the head while walking down stairwells, and general intimidation. But according to [student Wei] Chen, at least six times last school year those minor incidents escalated into massive rumbles where outnumbered Asian students were pummeled by packs of teens, sending several of the victims to hospitals. . . .

Many Asian students continued living in fear for the remainder of the school year . . . In a cry for help, scared students signed petitions, wrote letters, held meetings, staged a walkout and pleaded with school administrators to do something about the attacks.
 But the violence at South Philly High, listed among the state’s “persistently dangerous schools” for the third consecutive year, continued.


Male and female Asian students—especially those new to the country, who speak little or fractured English—have been targeted over the past few years, in schools from the Northeast to South Philly, in elementary and high schools. Students and activists say that Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Pakistani and other Asian youth have been singled out, assaulted in cafeterias, hallways, on city streets, school buses and everywhere in between. 


Kids say the violence has often been dismissed by school safety officers as well as administrators. “This is a cultural problem,” Wei Chen claims the former principal at South Philly told Asian students on the day after the subway rumble.
 District officials acknowledge that some situations weren’t handled well.


The article goes on to note that there have been some efforts at addressing the problem through school and community forums and informal mentoring programs to assist newly-arrived immigrant students adjust to their new schools, and that such efforts seem to have had some initial success in reducing the number of physical attacks. However, as the new school year starts, many students are still very tense and apprehensive about whether the situation has actually changed.

The article also acknowledges that the overwhelming majority of attacks have been perpetrated by African American students, who collectively make up 62% of all students in the school district. Does this mean that African Americans are inherently racist and prone to violence? Or are there some community and institutional-level factors that operate in the background and contribute to tense relations between African Americans and Asians? The article offers one potential insight:

As of 2008, Asians accounted for 5.7 percent of the city’s population, up from 4.4 percent in 2000—an increase of 15,000 Asians. Many of the new arrivals move to areas populated by fellow countrymen, often in neighborhoods adjacent to longtime African-American enclaves.
 “The school may be thought of as black turf by some black students,” says Yale University sociologist Elijah Anderson, a renowned expert on black urban living.

“The outsiders—the Asians who are making inroads—can then be called into account for any moves they make within that situation. You have race prejudice developing as a sense of group position, a proprietary claim on certain areas of the home turf.” Anderson, who taught at Penn for 32 years and frequently uses Philadelphians in his research, believes that the school tensions are likely about dominance.


It goes without saying that such acts of violence can be devastating for the victims, not just physically and academically but emotionally, and can lead to depression, mental health problems, and even suicide. Being targeted also leads many Asian Americans to join a gang, initially to help protect each other from physical attacks but all too often leading to a downward spiral into criminal activity.

Professor Anderson’s explanation about demographic changes leading to neighborhood instability helps us to begin understanding the larger social forces that contribute to the problem. On top of that, once we add the effects of the recession and feelings of economic insecurity, we begin to see more clearly what sociologists have argued all along — the highest levels of prejudice occur not between groups at the very top and those at the very bottom, but between groups that are directly adjacent to each other on the socioeconomic hierarchy.

This is because groups that are right next to each other on the socioeconomic ladder are competing for the same resources — political, economic, and educational (or at least they perceive themselves to be in competition). And sadly, when groups compete with each other, racial/ethnic tensions, hostility, and violence become almost inevitable. Whether this occurs between Whites and Blacks, Whites and Latinos, Blacks and Asians, this scenario has played itself out over and over and over again throughout American history.

The situation in Philadelphia is the perfect and latest example of this pattern — African Americans have traditionally been marginalized institutionally, then begin to feel further besieged and threatened when newcomers (Asian immigrants) move into “their” neighborhoods and schools, and accuse them to to be “taking over.” Having very little collective political or economic power, African Americans scapegoat and lash out at the Asian immigrant newcomers, likely seeing them easy targets due to their lack of English fluency and familiarity with American society.

This is not to excuse or condone the perpetrators of such attacks — I feel that they need to be stopped and appropriately disciplined, regardless of their race or ethnicity. What I am saying however, is that such attacks are not entirely due to individual motives or prejudices. Instead, we need to recognize that there is an wide range of sociological factors that have directly and indirectly lead to and fueled such inter-racial tensions.

To move forward positively and decisively toward addressing this situation before someone is tragically killed, we need to treat both the symptoms and by curing the fundamental disease — the feelings of political powerlessness, economic insecurity, and culture of glorified violence that leads too many students to internalize anti-Asian stereotypes, ultimately resulting in physical brutality.


July 13, 2009

Written by C.N.

Swimming Pools and Modern Day Segregation

So much for the Obama effect.

Many Americans seemed to think that Barack Obama’s victory to become our nation’s first non-White President represented the end of racism in America and that our society had finally moved past skin color as a marker of social hierarchy. Sadly, they were and continue to be wrong.

As many media organizations and blogs have reported and summarized in the MSNBC video below, a private club in suburban Philadelphia reneged on an arrangement to allow a group of Black and Latino children to use their swimming pool, with many White club member parents allegedly uttering racial slurs to the children:

Alethea Wright, director of Creative Steps, a summer camp for minority children, said the organization paid for weekly swim time at the pool. But during a trip there June 29 some of the children said they heard people asking what “black kids” were doing at the club, Wright said. . . .

Creative Steps, located in northeast Philadelphia, had contracted for the 65 children at the day camp to go each Monday afternoon, Wright said. But shortly after they arrived June 29, she said, some black and Hispanic children reported hearing racial comments. . . .

“Some of the members began pulling their children out of the pool and were standing around with their arms folded,” Wright said. “Only three members left their children in the pool with us.” Several days later, the club refunded the camp’s payment without explanation, said Wright. . .

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will immediately open an investigation into the actions of The Valley Club in the leafy suburb of Huntingdon Valley, chairman Stephen A. Glassman said. . . . “Allegedly, this group was denied the use of a pool based on their race,” Glassman said. “If the allegations prove to be true, this is illegal discrimination in Pennsylvania.” . . .

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., issued a statement calling the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said he was looking into the matter.

My fellow blogger sociologist Jessie at RacismReview.com elaborates on some of the details of the incident and sums up the sociological context of this incident quite well:

It’s a good thing that there are laws in place that prohibit racial discrimination of this sort, and that people were outraged this happened, and that a U.S. Senator is stepping up to investigate and, at least potentially, take some action against these perpetrators of swimming pool racism.

Yet, it’s an appalling fact to realize that nearly fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts, we are still grappling with the continuing significance of racism in public places. We are, apparently, still at a point where we’re having to investigate people for violating the prohibition against racial discrimination in public accommodations.

Think about these kids in Northeast Philly next time you hear someone use the phrase “post-racial.”

Seriously, this is 2009, not 1909, right?

Without doubt, the actual incident is pretty shocking and appalling — White parents pulling their children out of the pool once Black and Latino children began using it, allegedly using racial slurs against the non-White children, and then the club abruptly canceling their earlier arrangement without any apology or explanation.

These events by themselves are pretty clear violations of federal and state laws which prohibit racial and ethnic discrimination in public and private facilities and I hope the club is prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent possible. Incidents like this are completely unacceptable in American society.

But as a sociologist, I also find it interesting to observe the club’s subsequent explanation and “apology,” offered several days after the incident and only after it was bombarded with media coverage and the threat of criminal prosecution. Specifically, as the MSNBC article quoted above notes, the club’s officials denied that race was a factor in the club’s actions and rather, it was safety concerns and a lack of space.

Most recently, the club has offered to have the summer camp kids back, but only “as long as safety issues, times and terms can be agreed upon.” Nice try, but that just basically means that as long as club members have enough advance notice, they can stay away from the club on the day the summer camp kids use it. How magnanimous of them.

These club officials need to wake up and smell what they’re shoveling.

This line of thinking is an example of colorblind ignorance at its best (or would that be, at its worst?) — taking pains to deny that race was ever a factor in one’s actions and trying to pretend or convince oneself that you, your members, and your organization has any hint of racial prejudice at all. After all, that would be so 20th century and we’re living in a “post racial” society now, aren’t we?

The sad truth is, we are living in American society, one that is still highly racialized and one in which the misguided allure of colorblindness has instead blinded us to the fundamental racist sentiments that many individual Americans consciously or unconsciously still have, the social segregation that still divides us along color lines, and the institutional racial inequalities that allow such sentiments to exist.

The calendar may say it’s 2009 but apparently, the racial consciousness of many Americans is about a 100 years behind.


September 19, 2005

Written by C.N.

New Asian American Communities

From a demographic point of view, it is only a matter of time before any given Asian American enclave becomes too crowded. After that happens, Asian Americans will then inevitably disperse and move into new areas, creating new Asian American communities. This has happened in southern California, the New York City metro area, and now, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, is apparently starting to happen in northwest Philadelphia:

Immigration advocates have long argued that Philadelphia, a former hub for factories and foreigners, could stem its population loss by recruiting immigrants. Other cities, such as Boston, have used immigration as a strategy for urban renewal. It appears immigrants are arriving even without a plan to lure them. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report released last week, the foreign-born last year were 11 percent of the city population, a jump from 9 percent in 2000.

In Oxford Circle and other areas of the Northeast, cheaper housing appears to be the draw. At least four realty agencies have opened near Cottman Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard in the last two years. The Chinese characters on their storefronts hint at marked ethnic change in the neighborhood. . . . Brokers say rowhouses that would have fetched $80,000 in early 2004 now go for double that. Almost all the buyers are Chinese-born New Yorkers. . . .

The influx has been so dramatic that nearby Solis-Cohen Elementary School converted book closets into classrooms and added two trailers in a parking lot for 250 more students – half of them new residents. “The people who’ve resided here for a long time are passing away or moving to retirement communities,” said Joseph Baum, the school’s principal. “And they are being replaced by families with children.”

The article also notes that in this case, it wasn’t just overcrowding and exorbitant housing prices that pushed many Asian Americans out of New York City — it was also the economic fallout as a result of September 11, 2001. Further, as with any form of cultural or in this case residential change, there’s bound to be some resistance, conflict, or hostility from long-term residents of the neighborhood.

We’ll have to see if history repeats itself or if a more orderly form of integration and assimilation takes place — on both sides.