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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.

August 23, 2010

Written by C.N.

Asian Americans, Education, & More Signs of Inclusion

Social scientists know that one institution of American life that is crucial to either alleviating or perpetuating inequalities is our education system. With that in mind, I would like to highlight a few recent news stories, articles, and announcements that include positive news as they relate to Asian Americans and higher education. With each step that the Asian American community (and other racial/ethnic communities as well) takes, hopefully it represents another positive development in reducing social inequalities for all Americans.

Wallace Loh Named New President of Univ. of Maryland

I would like to offer my congratulations to Dr. Wallace Loh on being named the new President of the University of Maryland (home of one of the best Asian American Studies Programs in the country, headed by my friend and colleague Larry Shinagawa).

Dr. Loh and his family left China in 1961 to escape communist oppression, first immigrating to Peru (Dr. Loh is also fluent in Spanish) and then coming to the U.S. for college. He completed his Bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa in Psychology (take note of that young Asian Americans — he is not an engineer or physical scientist), a Master’s from Cornell, a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and finally a law degree at Yale. He was also Dean of the University of Washington’s law school (where he was also a close advisor to then-Governor Gary Locke) and most recently, Provost at the University of Iowa.

As you can see, Dr. Loh is extremely accomplished and as an Asian American in higher education, I am thrilled to see another Asian American attaining the Presidency of a major university. I wish Dr. Loh the best success in his new position.

Special Issue on Asian American and Pacific Islander Higher Education

The academic journal AAPI Nexus (2010, Volume 7, Number 1 and published by UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center) has just released its second issue of a three part education series, focusing on Higher Education, guest edited by Mitchell J. Chang (UCLA) and Peter Nien-chu Kiang (University of Massachusetts Boston). Below is a listing of the articles included in the issue:

  • Ling-chi Wang: Establishing a Chinatown campus of the City College of San Francisco
  • Rick Wagoner and Anthony Lin: Southeast Asian American community college students who transfer to four-year institutions
  • Jillian Liesemeyer: Historical comparison of exclusionary quotas against Jewish and Asian American college students
  • Oiyan Poon: Recent policy changes in eligibility of admissions in the University of California system
  • Julie Park and Mitchell Chang: Improving the future influence of AAPI communities on educational matters

While I have yet to read the articles in this issue, from their descriptions it looks like they each tell a story in which Asian Americans — individually and collectively — have faced and continue to face various challenges when it comes to achieving educational access and success. In their own ways, each article seems to highlight ways in which Asian Americans have worked individually and collectively to confront those barriers and in the process, they have not only empowered themselves but others around them to work toward greater inclusion.

Not Just Scientists & Engineers: Asian American College Students Diversify Their Majors

International Business Times reports that Asian American college students are increasingly turning to other fields of study and majors, rather than the more stereotypical ones of physical sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics:

Larry Shinagawa, director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, said that . . . First-generation immigrant Asians typically pursue STEM careers — fields that are secure, prestigious, pay well, and have low barriers to entry. He added that two generations ago, Asian Americans (even those born and raised in the U.S.) also largely pursued stereotypical STEM careers.

However, Asian Americans (second-, third-, or fourth-generation) have recently begun to defy the STEM stereotype. Now, a greater number of them study humanities and social sciences versus STEM disciplines. And after completing their studies, an increasing number of them are entering into law and business.

Shinagawa said that many Asian Americans feel more “Americanized” and believe they have a broader range of occupational choices. As to why they choose business and law specifically, he explained that many Asian Americans do not feel they can compete with immigrant Asians in STEM fields, so they opt for law and business, which offer the same or better pay and prestige compared to STEM jobs.

As I’ve always said, there’s nothing wrong with becoming a scientist, engineer, mathematician, etc. if that’s what you truly enjoy doing. But if it’s mainly the parents who are pushing their children towards these occupations, that’s a recipe for future alienation and resentment. For Asian American college students in that position, you owe to yourself to have an honest talk with your parents about what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Further, as diverse as the Asian American population is, so too should be our occupational distributions. We need Asian Americans as doctors, scientists, engineers — and also as musicians, authors, professors, corporate executives, journalists, actors, etc. The take home message is: do not limit yourself.

Frank Wu Named New Dean of Univ. of California Hastings Law School

I also offer a belated congratulations to Frank Wu, renowned civil rights scholar and activist, for being named as the new Dean of the Law School at the University of California, Hastings:

Wu, a Michigan native, has said he changed his career plans from architecture to law as a teenager in response to the racially motivated murder of a young Chinese American man in Detroit in 1982 (Vincent Chin).

He first practiced law with a San Francisco firm and later taught at Columbia, the University of Michigan and Stanford. He became the nation’s youngest law school dean at Wayne State University in Detroit in 2004 and served until mid-2008.

Wu was chairman of the Washington, D.C., Human Rights Council in 2001-02. He is the author of the 2003 book Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, and was a co-author of the 2001 textbook Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment.

As with the cases of Wallace Loh (mentioned above), Jim Young Kim at Dartmouth, and other accomplished Asian American leaders in higher education, it is very gratifying to see Asian Americans in these positions of leadership. With these accomplishments, Asian Americans continue to demonstrate that, contrary to some stereotypes, we can be excellent leaders in helping the U.S. succeed in the age of globalization and transnationalism.

Chinese College Students Flocking to U.S. Campuses

USA Today reports that several colleges and universities around the country have seen a recent surge in students from China enrolling on their campuses:

Last year alone, 98,510 Chinese graduate and undergraduate students poured into U.S. colleges and universities, lured by China’s emphasis on academic achievement and the prestige of U.S. higher education.

China is second only to India when graduate students and undergrads are counted. But undergraduates are the newer phenomenon. Nationally, an 11% growth in undergrad enrollments last year was driven largely by a 60% increase from China, a report by the Institute of International Education says. Grad student enrollments were up 2%. . . .

The increase also reflects a “strong dialogue” between the two countries, says U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary Alina Romanowski. She says the recent growth can’t be pinned to specific changes in visa policy, but some U.S. college officials say they detect a friendlier attitude among U.S. embassies and consulates, which review visa applications. One key question for any country is whether visa-seeking students can prove they will return to their home country upon graduating from a U.S. college.

“Because the Chinese economy has improved, students feel there are opportunities there waiting for them,” says Gretchen Olson, director of international programs at Drake University in Des Moines, where there are 28 undergraduates from China this fall, up from one in 2003.

Overall, I agree that these increases in “academic exchange” (the proliferation of Confucius Institutes around the U.S. are another example) are a positive development in terms of fostering more interaction between Chinese and Americans, which according to the “contact hypothesis” should by itself result in more understanding and tolerance between two groups, which the USA Today article discusses.

However, Chinese educational and government authorities, along with Chinese students who come to U.S. colleges, should remember that they need to conform to American norms and expectations in regard to things like who gets to determine curriculum (in China, the government does — in the U.S., the colleges, departments, and faculty do) and lax standards when it comes to academic dishonesty.

Overall, each of these recent news items represent a positive step forward for Asian Americans and all of American society in general. The next steps of course, are to keep the momentum going and to ensure that all racial/ethnic groups are also included in what will hopefully be a rising tide of greater empowerment and achievement as we move forward.


May 21, 2010

Written by C.N.

Links & Announcements #27

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.

Summer Institute: Queens College Asian/American Center

The Asian/American Center is offering a Summer Institute from July 26-31, 2010 entitled “Studying the Global in the Local: Asian American Communities in Multicultural Queens” as part of its efforts to build a new Asian American Pacific Islander Community Studies (AAPICS) Program.

The Summer Institute will be hosted at the Queens College campus and all participants will stay at The Summit for the duration of the program. The week-long program will offer participants the opportunity to learn about the history and experiences of Asian Americans and their inter-ethnic relationships in multicultural Queens.

  • The Summer Institute will include lectures, neighborhood excursions and meetings with community leaders.
  • We are seeking applications from all candidates aged 18-25 nationwide. Queens College students are also encouraged to apply.
  • Room and board will be provided, and students will receive a stipend.

Please encourage students you believe to be strong candidates to apply. Information and application forms may be accessed at www.qc.cuny.edu/Academics/Centers/Asian

Thank you for your help,
Dr. Nila Chatterjee
Director, Summer Institute
Asian/American Center, Queens College
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing, NY 11367
Tel: 718-997-3050
Email: nila.chatterjee@qc.cuny.edu

Position Available: Asian American Studies Program, Univ. of MD

Under general supervision, provides complex administrative support to the Asian American Studies Program office and works independently to coordinate the operational tasks involved in day to day administration. Work requires skill in dealing with issues related to policy, procedures, and confidential matters, and involves considerable participation in the work of the supervisor. Will also be expected to perform routine office work and function as a receptionist or file clerk.

Salary: $30,305-$36,366. Visit the Univ. of Maryland website for more information and to apply online.

“Cry Wolf” Project: Call for Proposals

We are looking for faculty and graduate students (in history, sociology, economics, political science, planning, public health, and public policy) interested in writing short (2000 word) policy briefs for which we can pay $1,000.

We are writing to ask for your help in an important project in the battle with conservative ideas. Today, as in the past, the fight to transform American politics and policy takes place on a battlefield in which ideas, narratives, and the construction of a politically driven conventional wisdom constitutes a set of highly potent weapons. Too often conservatives in the Congress and the media have captured the rhetorical high ground by asserting that virtually any substantial, progressive change in public policy, especially that involving taxes on the wealthy or regulation of business, will kill jobs, generate a stifling government bureaucracy, or curtail economic growth.

But history shows that in almost every instance the opponents of needed social and economic change are “crying wolf.” We therefore need to construct a counter narrative that demonstrates the falsity or exaggeration of such claims so that the first reaction of millions of people, as well as opinion leaders, will be “There they go again!” Such a refrain will undermine the credibility and arguments of the organizations and individuals who use such dire social and economic prognostications to thwart progressive reform.

To give substance and scholarly integrity to this “crying wolf” argument, we are calling upon historians and social scientists, in training or well established, to use their research skills to identify instances, in recent years as well as in the more distant pass, in which the “crying wolf” scare was put forward by industry executives, conservative politicians, and right-wing pundits before the passage of legislation or the promulgation of regulations that have become hallmarks of popular and progressive statecraft.

On each issue we seek to document three things: First, historical examples and quotes drawn from speeches, legislative testimony, newspaper and other media opinion pieces, think-tank reports, or political platforms which claim that a proposed policy or regulation would generate a set of negative consequences; second, a discussion of how these crying-wolf claims impacted the new laws or regulations as they were passed into law; and third, a well-documented analysis of the extent to which conservative and special interest fears were or were not realized during the years and decades after the new laws or regulations went into effect.

This work is sponsored by the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives and funded by a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation. Donald Cohen of CPI, Peter Dreier of Occidental College, and Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara constitute the ad hoc committee now administrating this initiative.

Based on some of the policy areas listed below, we solicit one page proposals for the kind of short studies outlined above. If we think the proposal promising, we will then ask the applicant to develop a larger policy brief, perhaps 2,000 words in length. It should be well documented and scrupulously accurate. We will pay $1,000 for each brief that meets these standards. We hope that many of these become the basis for opinion pieces designed to run in the mainstream media, on line, on the air, or in the press.

We will be focusing on the following policy areas.

  • Taxes and public budgets
  • Labor market standards
  • Food, tobacco and drug health and safety
  • Environmental protection: air, water, toxics, etc.
  • Workplace safety
  • Financial regulation
  • Consumer product safety
  • Local issues (i.e. inclusionary housing, building code standards, etc.)

We will be looking for the following things in each case study/policy brief:

  1. Specific Laws or Regulations within the policy area
  2. Why the law or regulation was needed: citations of studies, articles that demonstrated need, etc.
  3. Principle opponent interest groups
  4. The quotes and claims: Reports, correspondence and/or public testimony of interest groups that lobbied against passage and implementation of laws and regulations. [While some quotes will certainly be included in the policy brief, we would like all quotes that are found to be included in appendices]
  5. Principle proponent groups (for research and help)
  6. Any existing retrospective qualitative and quantitative costs and benefits of laws
  7. Major books, articles, sources on the history and impact of legislation/regulation.

Proposals should be sent to Donald Cohen at dcohen@onlinecpi.org. Please feel free to forward this RFP and/or to send ideas, references and proposals.

Sincerely,
Peter Dreier
Donald Cohen
Nelson Lichtenstein

Study in Need of Asian American Participants on Menopause

I am a Nurse Practitioner and also a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Nursing in Worcester, MA. For my dissertation, I am conducting a research study about women’s experiences with discontinuing menopause hormone therapy.

Currently there is little information to support women who are stopping menopause hormone therapy. This study will explore women’s experiences with discontinuing menopause hormone therapy. The results will provide information for developing programs to educate and support women during hormone therapy discontinuation.

Women who have attempted to discontinue menopause hormone therapy within the past two years are eligible. Participation in the study will involve one 30-60 minute interview (either online through a protected server at the university or by telephone). During the interview, participants will be asked to describe their experiences of discontinuing hormone therapy and then answer a short questionnaire. Compensation will be provided.

This study has been approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research at the University of Massachusetts/Worcester and is being supported by a grant from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. If you are interested in participating in this study please email me at mary.fischer@umassmed.edu.

Mary Fischer
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Certified Menopause Practitioner
University of Massachusetts/Worcester
Graduate School of Nursing


March 5, 2010

Written by C.N.

Links & Announcements #22

Here are some more announcements and 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.

Eva Lowe Fellowship for Social Justice

The Eva Lowe Fellowship for Social Justice at the Chinese Progressive Association. Applications due Monday March 8 , 2010.

Eva Lowe is a longtime progressive community activist who has committed her life to serving the community, she turns 101 this year. Born in Fort Bragg, California in 1909, she and her family went back and forth to China for education and to support the anti-imperialist movement. She was inspired by China’s movement and the women’s rights movement and got involved in many progressive issues. . . . Eva has dedicated her life to social and economic justice and believes that people should actively work to end imperialism and ‘fight for the underdog,’ the poor and working class community.

The Eva Lowe Fellowship for Social Justice provides a unique opportunity to a new generation of activists and organizers who want to build the power of and improve the lives of the working class Chinese immigrant community. During eight weeks of intensive training, ground work and reflection, Eva Lowe Fellows will learn about and support Chinese immigrant struggles in San Francisco, work to connect the larger API Movement across the country and build lasting relationships with peers, mentors and community members.

All placements for the program will be in San Francisco, California. Scholarships ranging from $500 – $2000 are available but students are also encouraged to seek additional and alternative funding sources (include campus work-study programs, scholarships and stipends). All other costs will the responsibility of each Fellow though some assistance may be offered to locate and secure housing. A maximum of four Fellows will be chosen for the 2010 year. Applications are due by Monday, March 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm. Applications can be filled out online at www.evalowe.org. We will announce the Fellowship recipients by March 20, 2010.

About the Chinese Progressive Association: Founded in 1972, the Chinese Progressive Association educates, organizes and empowers the low income and working class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective power with other oppressed communities to demand better living and working conditions and justice for all people.

Organization of Chinese Americans & Verizon College Scholarship

The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, economic, and political well-being of Asian Pacific Americans, is accepting applications from current undergraduate students for the OCA-Verizon College scholarship for fall semester 2010. This is a reminder that applications are due April 1, 2010.

Given the current recession, it is important to capitalize on all available resources. The OCA-Verizon College scholarship is a $2,000 award that will highlight your scholarly achievements, ease financial obstacles, and add prestige to your resumé. In order to be eligible, applicants must be a student who identifies as Asian Pacific American entering their sophomore, junior, or senior years, demonstrate financial need, be a permanent resident or US citizen, have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale), and must be pursuing one of the following majors:

Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Electronics, Computer Programming, Computer Information Systems, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Finance, HR Management, Industrial Engineering, Information Technology, International Business, Management Information Systems, Marketing, Mechanical Engineering, or Network Administration.

The application deadline is April 1, 2010, and must be completed online. If your school has a policy that prevents you from uploading your letter of recommendation, please contact me individually at iho@ocanational.org. For more information about the OCA-Verizon College scholarship or to access the application, please visit www.ocanational.org and click “Verizon College Scholarships” under “Programs.”

Sincerely,
IIMAY HO |Program Manager
OCA National Center
1322 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-223-5500 tel
202-296-0540 fax
iho@ocanational.org
www.ocanational.org

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Internship

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) is responsible for the Department’s implementation of the Executive Order of October 14, 2009 which is designed to improve Federal efforts to develop, monitor, and coordinate executive branch efforts to improve the quality of life of AAPIs through increased participation in Federal programs. The Initiative is housed at the Department of Education, but represents a collaboration among many Federal agencies.

Intern Duties:

  • Perform research on and outreach to national and local AAPI organizations, elected officials, and ethnic media outlets
  • Conduct research on WHIAAPI issue areas, including education, commerce, health, housing, labor and employment, community and economic development as they relate to AAPIs

Intern Qualifications:

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate student (it is a requirement that interns be enrolled in school at least half time)
  • Great research skills
  • Experience working with AAPI community or familiarity with the issues
  • Detail-oriented
  • Team player

Compensation: interns are eligible for Transit Benefits, which cover the cost of commuting to and from work on public transportation. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Hallie Montoya Tansey at hallie.montoyatansey@ed.gov.

Administrative Assistant Job for Asian American Studies Program, Univ. of MD

The Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland (AAST) is hiring an Administrative Assistant. We are looking for someone with good communication and people skills. All are welcome to apply. Starting salary range is $30k to $36k. For more information, visit the University Human Resources website. Deadline is March 12, 2010.


August 24, 2009

Written by C.N.

Americans Preparing for the 2010 Census

If you’ve read more than a few articles on Asian-Nation, you already know that I rely a lot on Census data and statistics for this website and blog. In addition, as an academic, I also use Census data heavily for my own research studies, as do thousands of other sociologists, demographers, statisticians, analysts, and others in all kinds of disciplines and fields.

It’s with this in mind that many of us are eagerly anticipating the 2010 Census. After the questionnaires and data collection start this spring, the actual data won’t be completely tabulated and released to the public until 2013 or so. Nonetheless, as a recent Time magazine article describes, diverse racial and ethnic groups around the country understand how important it is that the federal government has an accurate count of their population numbers and the overall importance of these Census data to American society in general:

The U.S. Census is gearing up for its once-a-decade tally of America’s population. And so are thousands of groups with a vested interest in being fully counted — since the Census determines not just seats in the House of Representatives but also how some $400 billion in annual federal funding gets divvied up, the way companies think about where to build factories and stores, and the shape of political and social discourse about issues like race, ethnicity and urban vs. rural America. . . .

Brazilians in Boston are creating public-service announcements to run on Portuguese-language radio stations. The state of California is handing out maps of neighborhoods with low participation rates in the last Census so community groups can target where to knock on doors. . . . “The Census,” says Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, “is all about financial resources and power.” . . .

To think about what’s at stake — beyond $3 billion in unemployment funds, $4 billion worth of rural-electrification loans, $6 billion in Head Start money and hundreds of billions of other federal dollars — consider the Burmese. Some 17,000 people living in the U.S. identified themselves as Burmese in the 2000 Census, but “we know that’s not the right number,” says Aung Naing, chairman of the Burmese Complete Count Committee. . .

In Southern California alone, there are seven or eight Burmese Buddhist temples, he says. So since the fall, Naing has been traveling the country, explaining to Burmese groups that the Census counts everybody — citizen or not — and that the data collected aren’t shared with other parts of the government, like immigration or taxing authorities (common fears that drive down response rates among many minority groups, including blacks and Hispanics).

The Time article acknowledges that there have been instances in the past where Census data has been used against particular racial/ethnic groups, such as during World War II when they were used to identify neighborhoods that had large Japanese American populations, so that they could more easily be rounded up and placed in prison camps.

There are also many Americans who don’t trust the federal government in general and will refuse to complete a Census form based solely on those grounds. As I’ve also written about, the Census Bureau has also experienced more than a few bureaucratic glitches that it will hopefully resolve under the guidance of its new boss, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

For people and community organizations interested in learning more about the Census’s importance to Americans of all backgrounds, or in helping to promote participation in their own community, there are some excellent resources at CivilRights.org and NonProfitsCount.org. The Census Bureau also has numerous informational material translated in dozens of languages for downloading. As with the Time magazine article, these resources emphasize that an accurate count of the U.S.’s population forms the basis for many important but often overlooked political, economic, and social decisions that are made that end up affecting our daily lives.

As it relates to Asian Americans, the Asian American Justice Center has a nice summary of the Census’s importance to APAs. Also, the Census Bureau has produced some short videos introducing and promoting the 2010 Census, with the embedded clip below aimed specifically at Asian Americans (the clips are a little elementary but are a good way to start the discussion):

Also, my good friend and colleague Larry Shinagawa is Director of the Asian Pacific American Census Information Center (APACIC), based out of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland. As noted on their website:

[The APACIC] was established to serve the census data needs of the national, regional, and local Washington metropolitan area Asian Pacific American communities. In September 2006, APACIC was designated as a Census Information Center (CIC) by the U.S. Census Bureau. As a member of the U.S. CIC Program, APACIC serves underserved and disadvantaged Asian Pacific American communities especially in the mid-Atlantic region by providing access to U.S. Census Bureau products.

The APACIC page linked to above also contains numerous resources and reports on various Asian American ethnic groups and other aspects of the Asian American population for those who are interested. I hope all Americans, and particularly Asian Americans, will complete and return the Census questionnaire that they’ll receive soon so that we have as accurate as possible a picture of our society and population.