Applying to Harvard as an Asian-American

Posted on July 3rd, 2018 by imprentacomm

To the Editor:

Re “Harvard Rates Asian-Americans as Less Likable, Plaintiffs Claim” (front page, June 16):

I think I can speak for all college admissions consultants when I say that none of us were shocked by the recently released Harvard investigation, included in court documents, revealing that the university rated Asian-American applicants consistently lower on personality traits.

Helping other Asian-Americans beat the odds demands cynicism. Assume that admissions officers will view you in a certain light. So, actively combat their preconceived notions. Try football, join the musical (the cast, not the orchestra), and study 14th-century French art if you want to render your reviewer speechless with all those broken stereotypes.

I wish it weren’t so, but the overarching stereotype that all Asians are similar is rooted in partial truth, as is every bias. Is it racist of me to admit that most high-achieving Asians tend to have shared values — and play piano? Like many other Asian kids, I used to be passive and shy outside the comfort of my home.

But to conclude that Asian-Americans broadly lack desirable personality traits is despicable. Discrimination against Asian-Americans in college admissions is a classic manifestation of cultures clashing, and some people seem unduly paranoid, as if having too many Asian-American Yale students would somehow harm America. Even though we love cheeseburgers just as much as kimchi.

KENNETH XU, CHAPEL HILL, N.C.

The writer, a rising sophomore at Yale, works for its Office of Undergraduate Admissions and as a private consultant.

What is WeChat? Chinese-language app could be fueling Chinese-American conservatism

Posted on July 3rd, 2018 by imprentacomm

It’s been used to buy farm-fresh eggs and pay bills — and to quickly mobilize tens of thousands across the country to rally on behalf of a former New York City cop convicted in the accidental shooting death of an unarmed black man.

WeChat, the hugely popular social media app developed by Chinese internet company Tencent, has grown to become an indispensable tool in the lives of both Chinese citizens and first-generation Chinese-speaking immigrants in the U.S.

Image: Young man holds a smart device while using WeChat app
WeChat being used on an iPad Mini.S3studio / studioEAST/Getty Images

Part Facebook, part Twitter, part WhatsApp, WeChat helps to forge social connections among groups of people with similar interests, in everything from consumerism to politics. And it also provides its 1 billion monthly active users worldwide with news and information.

It was the political discussion on the social media app during the 2016 U.S. presidential election that caught the eye of WeChat user Zhang Chi, a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Something curious appeared to be afoot.

“I did notice a very interesting turn toward conservatism on the platform itself,” Zhang said.

MISINFORMATION AND POLARIZATION

Zhang, a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, authored a study released in April that examined misinformation and political polarization on WeChat.

As primary races for local, state and federal elections heat up across the country, it’s a phenomenon that some experts and political observers have been closely watching, especially in elections where Chinese-American voters can make a difference.

“If you look at discourse on WeChat, conservatives are winning the messaging game,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of AAPI Data and a public policy professor at the University of California, Riverside.

Figures representing the prominence of articles on certain topics shared on some WeChat accounts and in English-language media and Chinese ethnic press.
Figures representing the prominence of articles on certain topics shared on some WeChat accounts and in English-language media and Chinese ethnic press.Courtesy of Chi Zhang

Zhang’s report said issues like affirmative action, unauthorized immigration and data disaggregation (the process of breaking down data by ethnic group) received a disproportionate focus on WeChat during the study period, from September to November 2017, compared to English-speaking media and ethnic media with immigrant Chinese as a target audience.

Jobs, the economy and health care garnered little attention, though coverage of the three in the Chinese ethnic press far outpaced other topics, according to the report.

While the study noted that both conservative and liberal WeChat discourse focused on race relations and what it called the “ambivalent role of Chinese Americans,” “it was the conservative narrative, invoking zero-sum calculations and the neglect of Chinese Americans by liberals, that seems to resonate more widely.”

CHINESE CONSERVATISM

It’s hard to say whether WeChat is responsible for the apparent rise in first-generation Chinese-American conservatism or whether the social media app has merely amplified its presence.

One involved Jimmy Kimmel, who came under fire for a 2013 skit in which a child suggested “killing everyone in China”could be a solution to America’s debt problem.

Another was SCA-5, an amendment in California to reinstate affirmative action in the state.

And then there was the prosecution of Peter Liang, a former New York City police officer of Chinese descent who accidentally shot and killed an unarmed black man while patrolling a housing project.

Much of this activism and discourse played out both on private WeChat groups and official accounts, to which anyone can subscribe.

“Without these events, nothing,” Wang said, adding, “Nobody would be talking about politics.”

WeChat users, like those on other social media platforms, can follow a variety of official accounts, including those for celebrities, government, media and enterprises. The Tow Center report said there were as many as 10 million.

Topics span the gamut, from recreation to leisure, food to politics. Most of the content is in Chinese.

Through a survey in August 2017 with 407 U.S.-based Chinese WeChat users, Zhang and her team identified 25 WeChat official accounts, or outlets, that respondents said were important to their understanding of politics and U.S. current events.

Many of these outlets provide a mix of gossip, information and news, while a few focus on politics.

Survey participants were recruited through Chinese organizations and Chinese-language school mailing lists. They also came from within WeChat through “snowball sampling,” a technique in which existing study subjects recruit future ones from among their acquaintances.

Zhang noted that statistics weren’t available on the number of U.S.-based WeChat users.

Her report analyzed all published content from these outlets from September to November 2017, some 3,837 articles in all. Outlets differed in quality and size, ranging from some with one writer and a small base of contributors, to others with a full-time editorial staff, according to the report.

The report found that the three right-leaning outlets during the period analyzed, between January and November 2017, published on average 384 articles per month — more than four times the amount put out by the four left-leaning ones.

Muslims, affirmative action and terrorism accounted for 57 percent of content on right-leaning accounts, compared to 47 percent on left-leaning ones, according to figures provided by Zhang.

But issues like health care, jobs and the economy took a backseat on right-leaning outlets, as opposed to what was published by their left-leaning counterparts, which had a more even distribution of topics, the study found.

SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

The veracity of what’s being published through official WeChat accounts and private groups is a growing source of concern for some.

Just like Facebook and Twitter, WeChat can feature content that’s been distorted, exaggerated or just plain false.

One space where this can happen is in private groups. WeChat allows users to create a group chat of up to 500 members, according to the company.

“The groups are really where the articles are shared and where discussions take place,” Zhang said.

One example of misinformation cited in the study involved reports in November warning WeChat readers of an impending civil war and mass riots led by “Antifa.

Short for “anti-fascist,” Antifa is a loosely organized coalition of protesters, left-wing activists, and self-described anarchists who vow to physically confront “fascists” — meaning anyone who espouses bigoted or totalitarian views.

To be sure, an Antifa-led civil war or mass riots never happened. Moreover, a recent search on WeChat showed that some articles did in fact counter the erroneous claims and urged users not to spread unfounded reports.

But the story, translated into Chinese, nonetheless propagated far and wide on WeChat, according to the report.

If you look at discourse on WeChat, conservatives are winning the messaging game

“This case illustrates how a conspiratorial idea that was relayed all the way from the English-language far-right by way of partisan outlets on WeChat could be amplified through the replication and multiplication of diffuse outlets eager for shareable content,” the report concluded.

Another source of concern for some is whether WeChat outlets translating and packaging the news have fact-checking mechanisms in place like those at established Chinese-language media in the U.S.

“Not only do they not have fact-checking or any traditional norms of journalism governing how they operate,” Zhang said, “there’s an incentive to editorialize and make the narrative, the story, more sensational than what they found on the Internet.”

Outlets do this, she said, to make themselves stand out from the pack.

Joe Wei, managing editor of The World Journal, a U.S.-based Chinese-language newspaper, said he believes the majority of WeChat content is translated and disseminated by people in China.

He said the goal is not to give readers a better understanding of what’s happening in the U.S., but rather to expose conflict in the country, in an effort to show that China is better than the U.S.

For his part, Wang, who runs the Chinese Americans for Trump private WeChat group, said he doesn’t believe WeChat is being used to give first-generation Chinese-Americans a distorted view of U.S. politics.

“People do their own fact-checking, big time,” he said. “We’re not just going to believe a link on a website, not from a critical source, saying whatever. Everybody does their critical thinking, independent research, and we encourage people to do that so they’re immune from the fake news media.”

Wang added that they have moderators who fact-check news that is shared. Action is taken when something is found to be amiss.

“People would point out a link, saying this is fake news, it didn’t happen, it’s not real, and we would all just stop spreading,” he said.

Wei, however, expressed concern over how the content of some WeChat outlets is curated.

Speaking in Mandarin, he said right-leaning and pro-Trump groups tend to select, or cherry pick, social issues for WeChat that first-generation Chinese Americans are familiar with.

Those have included opposition toward affirmative action, allegations of Asian-American admissions quotas at Harvard University, and laws requiring that education and healthcare data only for Asian Americans be broken down by ethnicity.

But other issues, like the questionable use of force by some police officers toward black men, may get short shrift or not be covered at all, according to Wei.

The common theme that resonates for many first-generation Chinese-American immigrants is a feeling of being discriminated against or marginalized, observers note.

And that, they say, has helped galvanize support through WeChat to rally around these issues.

A NEW MEDIUM FOR THE MESSAGE

These days, fewer first-generation Chinese-American immigrants appear to be getting their news from traditional sources, like print media, Wei said.

Instead, they’re turning to WeChat and the platform’s official accounts, personal groups and “Moments” section, where users share information with their friends.

Chinese-language print media in the U.S. will likely adjust in the coming years by shifting its focus more to local news, including on-the-ground reporting about life in Chinese-American communities and the difficulties residents face, Wei said.

Established Chinese ethnic media outlets, including The World Journal, have also responded by setting up their own official WeChat accounts.

“In the last few years, we have been investing tremendously, building up a news-information platform that includes website, social media, print and electronic newspaper,” Wei said of The World Journal.

To combat misinformation on WeChat, Zhang’s report said more English-language media, government agencies and community groups should use the platform for two-way communication.

And ethnic media, the report added, can serve as “vehicles of verified information,” even as WeChat seems to have garnered a sizeable audience.

“Substantial and credible local news is more crucial than ever for immigrant groups, especially on stories and policy issues prone to misinterpretation,” the report said.

World Health Org. Urges Vietnamese to Eat Less Sugar

Posted on June 26th, 2018 by imprentacomm

Excessive sugar and salt combined with insufficient vegetable consumption is posing health risks to Vietnamese people, experts say. Photo from vtc.vn via Viet Nam News/Asia News Network

HANOI — Vietnamese people eat too much sugar and it is harming their health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While the WHO recommends consuming less than 25 grams of sugar per day, Vietnamese eat an average 46.5 grams daily.

The data was revealed at a workshop to release WHO recommendations on controlling sugar-sweetened beverage consumption to prevent and control non-communicable diseases, held by the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health in Hanoi last Friday.

An unbalanced diet of excessive sugar and salt combined with insufficient vegetable consumption and a lack of physical activity is posing health risks to Vietnamese people, especially non-communicable diseases, said Truong Dinh Dac, deputy head of the department.

According to the WHO, the consumption of sugary drinks is increasing, especially in developing countries. Sugary beverages are produced on an industrial scale with a variety of products and are loved by children. Sugar drinks can make people feel better, eat more delicious and eat more, especially the baked goods, fried.

However, many reports suggest that sugary drinks will overload energy leading to fat accumulation, metabolic disorders; Increased risk of non-communicable diseases such as overweight – obesity, hypertension and osteoporosis.

Truong Tuyet Mai, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Nutrition, said Vietnamese people consumed about 5 billion litres of sugary beverages annually.

The figure is estimated to reach more than 5 billion litres in 2018 and 11 billion litres in 2025.

In Vietnam, the prevalence of overweight people and obesity is rapidly increasing.

The ratio of overweight and obesity in adults accounts for about 25 percent of the population. The rate of obese children under 5 has increased rapidly from 0.6 per cent in 2000 to 5.3 percent in 2015.

In addition, according to the survey of the National Hospital of Endocrinology, from 2002 to 2012, the rate of people with diabetes doubled from 2.7 to 5.4 percent.

Sugary drinks are the main source of sugar in the diet, and consumption is increasing in most countries, especially in children, WHO said.

The WHO recommends a reduced intake of free sugars.

In both adults and children, the WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10 per cent of total energy intake.

Jun Nakagawa, deputy head of WHO’s office in Vietnam, said that to effectively reduce excessive consumption of sugar and prevent obesity and diabetes, Vietnam should raise taxes on sugary beverages, an effective way to reduce sugar consumption.

It was important to restrict the promotion of sugary beverages, raise awareness about the harmful effects and alter the habit of consuming too many sugar-sweetened drinks, he said.

At the workshop, participants also shared experiences of some countries in the control of sugary drinks as well as using financial tools in order to reduce sugar consumption in Vietnam.

Asian Americans Post Largest Gains In Homeownership

Posted on June 26th, 2018 by imprentacomm

Asian Americans have seen the largest gains among any race in homeownership in the United States, new research shows.

recent report by Zillow Research found that the Asian homeownership rate increased 48%, from 10.1% in 1900 to 58.1% in 2016. This marks the largest jump in homeownership, compared to 23.2% among whites, 20.5% among blacks, and 5.4% among Latinos.

Overall, Asians have the second-highest ownership rate in the United States, below white households at 71.3% and above Hispanic and black households at 45.6% and 41%, respectively.

The research also found that in 2016, Asian home buyers had the most purchasing power, affording homes worth $155,000 more than the typical U.S. buyer. As a result, the Asian share of U.S. homes owned in 2016 (4.4%) was almost equivalent with their share of the U.S. population (5.6%). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 21.4 million Asian Americans in the United States, and this population is expected to grow by 79% between 2000 and 2050.

Stephen Davey, COO of Asian Americans For Equality(AAFE), an organization that helps Asian immigrants find affordable housing and navigate the home buying market, said that cultural values and an immigrant mentality could be responsible for the high rates of homeownership among Asians.

“Family cooperation as a significant factor is our clients’ success in achieving homeownership,” Davey said via email. “Family pressure to help one another, added to the traditional new-immigrant attitude that puts a premium on seeking the security of owning your own home, is a strong combination.”

However, Gary Painter, a public policy professor at the University of South California who has studied housing market demographics extensively, noted that these homeownership numbers may be skewed due to a simple math calculation.

Homeownership is calculated by dividing the number of homes owned in the numerator with the number of homes owned and not owned (rented) in the denominator. But the data is not on a per capita basis. Asian American homeownership rates may be high partially because homeownership is measured at the household level.

“Many Asian households tend to live in multigenerational households at a higher rate, and it shows up as a higher homeownership rate,” he said.

Painter’s research revealed socioeconomic factors similar to those identified by AAFE that could explain why Asian homeownership rates in the United States are the highest among the minorities. Young Asian American adults were more likely to live in households with their parents before establishing financial independence, skipping the rental stage and jumping straight to home ownership, he said.

As for the explanation for Asian homeowners’ high buying power, Davey pointed to a “desire to limit the amount of borrowed funds” among Asian communities that often leads to family cooperation and significantly higher down payments when buying a home.

Painter has also conducted research on homeownership rates within the Asian American community when households are broken down by country of immigrant origin, which vary vastly culturally and linguistically.

Specifically, the research found that differences in homeownership among Asian Americans could mostly be explained by factors such as education, income and head of household numbers. However, there was one outlier in the group—Chinese Americans.

“We found that even after controlling for what part of China you came from, or another part of Asia, there still remained a higher homeownership among Chinese than other Asian groups,” Painter said.

The explanation for this could again be a higher tendency for nuclear familial living arrangements, as well cultural influence, community financial lending practices, and investment from immigrant families back home.

Vietnam memorial: ‘We come not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them’

Posted on June 19th, 2018 by imprentacomm

ST. CLOUD — Despite the pouring rain, hundreds of people attended a ceremony Saturday afternoon to honor Americans and Vietnamese people who fought and died in the Vietnam War.

The crowd gathered by the Vietnam War Memorial at Lake George for a short program and picnic. Many wore bright red and yellow, the colors of the Vietnamese flag, and others were dressed in uniform, both Vietnamese and American.

The program, too, represented the diverse crowd, as speakers thanked those who served for their sacrifices in the name of freedom in Vietnamese and English.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is our honor to have you here today, in front of this monument to commemorate Vietnamese veterans and 58,000 U.S. Army soldiers who died for our freedom, democracy and peace,” said Nga Wynne, one of the speakers and who helped interpret the words of the Vietnamese speakers.

U.S. involvement in Vietnam began in 1954, lasting until 1975. Originally a regional conflict between the Communist north and the people in the south, the war intensified as the U.S. and the Soviet Union backed opposite sides, a flare-up of the Cold War.

It’s estimated 2 million Vietnamese people were killed, about 3 million were wounded and 12 million became refugees. About 58,000 Americans died in the war, with the U.S. spending more than $120 billion on the conflict. The U.S. withdrew from the war in 1973 and South Vietnam surrendered in 1975.

The local memorial honors the Americans killed in the war and the Vietnamese people who fought with the United States against the Communist north.

She said she and the Vietnamese veterans were there to show younger generations how to continue to honor the sacrifices of their ancestors.

“With the advice from our Vietnamese seniors, (they) encourage us to protect and to maintain the cultural tradition of the republic of Vietnam,” Wynne said.

Vietnamese soldiers fought in a war that lasted nearly 20 years, she said, some never knowing peace in their lifetimes.

“They fought one battle after the next, and the next,” Wynne said. “Some die without the hope of (burial), their remains without peaceful rest. Some were buried in the far, far land, or (remain in the) jungle forever. We are the people who are so lucky to survive during those wars and (to now) live in the country of freedom and democracy.”

Vietnam War veterans get a chance to tell their stories.

Wynne reiterated that monuments like the one at Lake George can be important places of remembrance. She shared the thoughts of senior Vietnamese veterans in a poem.

“When we die, (there’s) no need to be a tomb. With little ash we leave behind, this monument is the place to rest. With old friends, together, we fought. Yes, this monument will be the place for our republic of Vietnam veterans to meet.”

The monument was dedicated about a decade ago, adding a tribute to American and Vietnamese soldiers alongside the names of Central Minnesota soldiers who died in the war. It was created through a collaboration of Vietnamese and American soldiers.

“This is a place that forever … will be an opportunity for people to come and gather and remember that collaboration and that freedom,” said Mayor Dave Kleis. “We honor, not only on a day like today, but always, what their sacrifice means and what it means, really, to live in freedom.”

Attendees made offerings of wreaths, roses and incense at the memorial, in honor of their loved ones and many others who fought and died in the war.

Larry Davis, the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 290, spoke about the origin and true meaning of Memorial Day.

“The observance of America’s Memorial Day was born of compassion and empathy in 1863,” he said, when the loved ones of fallen Confederate soldiers not only honored their dead, but the lives of Union soldiers.

“The true meaning of Memorial Day is to recognize the magnitude of the deeds of the men and women who held true to the notion that evil and tyranny must not prevail,” he said. “Memorial Day … (is) a day when we can rededicate ourselves to the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. But remember, we come not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.”

George Takei: Trump Immigration Policy Worse Than Japanese Prison Camps

Posted on June 19th, 2018 by imprentacomm

 

Actor George Takei, who was sent to a Japanese prison camp with his family during World War II, said immigrant detention centers that separate migrant children from their parents are worse than what he experienced.

“At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents,” Takei wrote in a piece published Tuesday in Foreign Policy. “We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves.”

Takei was sent to a prison camp in Arkansas when he was 5 years old. Thousands of families of Japanese ancestry were sent to such camps in wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Takei described how his parents told him that they were going on vacation and tried to soften the horror of what was happening to their family. He said he would not have been able to prevent “the scars of our unjust imprisonment from deepening on my soul” without the comfort and some sense of security that his family provided to him during the difficult period.

“As the Wartime Relocation Authority made clear, ‘a Jap is a Jap.’ That was their own ‘zero-tolerance’ policy,” he said, referring to terminology Attorney General Jeff Sessions has used to justify family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Takei, who has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump in the past, called on the government to avoid repeating a dark period of the country’s history.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aislereligious leaders and the general public have widely criticized the Trump administration for its family separation policy.

An audio recording of distressed children crying out for their parents sparked backlash when it was released Monday, as did photos released over the weekend that show children held in chain-link enclosures at an immigrant processing facility in McAllen, Texas.

Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy in May, which has resulted in undocumented immigrants being separated from their children while being prosecuted. The administration has falsely claimed that it is enforcing a law, but there is no law that requires officials to separate families at the border.

Trump has said, repeatedly and erroneously, that Democrats are responsible for family separation.

Migrant children who are detained can suffer long-term psychological consequences due to the cramped quarters, stress and limited outdoor activity, according to child development researchers.

An Asian-American Awakening

Posted on June 19th, 2018 by imprentacomm

Have progressives poked a sleeping giant? A thousand New Yorkers showed up Sunday at City Hall to protest Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid to substitute de facto racial quotas for a merit-based admission test at the city’s elite public schools.

Two things make the protest striking. First, the protesters were Asian-American. Second, the big local dailies, save for the New York Post, didn’t cover it.

New York is not the only place where Asian-Americans are revolting against racial preferences as a tool to help minorities. Four years ago, a backlash by Asian-American lawmakers in California helped defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would have repealed a state prohibition against considering race in education and other government functions. Meanwhile, a lawsuit accuses Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“For years Asian-Americans have been viewed as the ‘model minority’—you know, quiet and well-behaved,” says Chunyan Li, a professor of accounting at New York’s Pace University. “But when we see the effects of social engineering on the future of our children, we can get nasty against the politicians too.”

It wasn’t supposed to work like this. In theory, only the white patriarchy loses from affirmative action, and all people of color share the same interests, regardless of their history or socioeconomic status or achievement.

But affirmative action as practiced today by the American education establishment is blowing a big hole in these assumptions. As Ms. Li notes, many Asian-American families now see that one minority’s floor is another’s ceiling—and that the effect of race-based admissions is to set one group against another. It is all the more galling for the signal it sends, which is that if you happen to be the wrong minority, you will be penalized for your hard work and achievement.

Certainly this is the implication of Mr. de Blasio’s effort to change the admission standards for the city’s eight most selective public high schools. At the moment, admission to these schools is determined by the Specialized High School Admissions Test. The progressive dilemma is that the outcomes on this test do not match their desired racial outcome.
Take Stuyvesant, the best-known of New York’s specialized schools. Asian students account for 72.9% of the student body, against 2.8% for Latinos and 0.7% for blacks.

Asian-American parents—who aren’t always as affluent as the stereotype—fully understand what this means: Any change that introduces criteria other than merit will mean that qualified Asian applicants will be denied seats in favor of unqualified black and Latino ones. The signs Asian-Americans waved at Sunday’s protest reflected this understanding: “Keep the test,” “Excellency is color blind,” and “I also have a dream.”

As these Asian-Americans were protesting in New York, a lawsuit by a group called Students for Fair Admissions has been working its way through pretrial discovery. The suit accuses Harvard of unlawfully discriminating against Asian-Americans today in the same way the Ivy League once limited the admission of Jews.
The group notes that roughly 20% of applicants Harvard admits are Asian-American today, just as in 1993—when the Asian-American population was half what it is now. The higher percentage of Asian-Americans represented at universities that do not use race (e.g., 43% at Caltech) suggests Harvard is deliberately keeping the number low. A 2009 Princeton study of admissions at leading universities found that Asian students had to score 140 points higher on their SATs than whites to have the same chance of getting in.

In addition to the lawsuit, a 2015 complaint filed by a coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups has led to an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Civil Rights. Asian-Americans are questioning the orthodoxy of racial preferences.

Harvard argues that it is a private university and its admissions practices are “trade secrets” it should not have to make public. But the Civil Rights Act applies to private institutions as well as public ones, and Harvard wants it both ways: It takes half a billion public dollars a year, yet it does not want to have to explain what looks to be a glaring gap between qualified Asian-Americans and admitted Asian-Americans.

This Friday, Students for Fair Admissions will file for summary judgment, arguing that the facts are so compelling that a trial is not necessary. The district court is not likely to agree. But given the intensive discovery process—Students for Fair Admissions has taken 40 depositions and looked over thousands of internal documents—a trial would be of great interest to the Asian-American community, and could prove highly embarrassing for Harvard.

“We may be considered the successful minority,” says Ms. Li, “but we are still very small politically.” Perhaps that’s beginning to change, as Asian-Americans awaken to what the last acceptable racial discrimination is doing to their children.

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Holds Inaugural Interagency Working Group Meeting

Posted on June 15th, 2018 by imprentacomm

Today the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) announced the new membership of its Interagency Working Group (IWG) and held its inaugural meeting at the White House.

“In accordance with the Executive Order, the Interagency Working Group is key to our mission of improving the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) through increased access to and participation in federal programs. Without the collaboration of the federal agencies and executive offices, we would not be able to reach into AAPI communities across the country and territories. Having the senior representation of the IWG here today is a big step for the federal government to continue serving this community.” said Initiative Executive Director Holly Ham.

The IWG is comprised of senior membership from 31 federal agencies and offices. The purpose of today’s meeting was to guide the participating federal agencies and offices in developing their agencies’ plans to measure performance on existing goals and to improve upon and create new measurable objectives.

The meeting began with welcoming remarks from White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley. An overview of the AAPI communities in the United States and its territories was presented by Director of Strategic Initiatives Akil Vohra. Executive Director Ham shared the strategic areas of focus for the Initiative here. The meeting concluded with the IWG members receiving instructions for next steps on how to best craft their agency plans which are due later this fall.

To learn more about IWG membership, click here.

The Asian Glass Ceiling: Studying the Model Minority Myth

Posted on June 15th, 2018 by imprentacomm

Asian Americans are the forgotten minority in the glass ceiling conversation.

When we examine the pipeline for leadership talent, Asian Americans aren’t there.

“Asian Americans are the forgotten minority in the glass ceiling conversation,” says Buck Gee and Denise Peck, two former Silicon Valley executives in this must-read piece from HBR. In fact, they find, Asians are sometimes included with whites in corporate diversity reports and not counted at all.

So Gee and Peck did the math. Last year, the pair poured through EEOC data to compile “The Illusion of Asian Success” report for Ascend, a non-profit leadership organization for Pan-Asian professionals. They found that across all sectors, Asian American professionals in the U.S. were more likely to be hired as individual contributors, but less likely to be promoted into management roles than any other race. “[C]ompanies have not done an adequate job of identifying and developing Asian American talent.”

Part of the problem, they suggest, is the mixed blessing of life as an Asian American.

As a demographic cohort, they’re 5% of the population, yet 12% of the workforce, and outpace other groups in terms of education and income. It’s become a corporate blind spot. “Because Asian Americans are not considered an underrepresented minority, they are given little priority or attention in diversity programs.”

Naturally, the situation is complex. The idea that Asian Americans are thriving reinforces the pleasing notion of meritocracy, and that racial barriers can be overcome with some good old-fashioned American grit.

Writer Andrew Sullivan created a huge firestorm last year after he articulated this “model minority” myth in response to the then-viral video of Dr. David Dao being violently ejected from a United Airlines flight. The “social justice brigade” could never get their complaints about racism to stick when it came to Asian Americans, he said.

“It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it?” he wrote. “It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?”

No, it couldn’t.

This common view ignores an ugly history that continues to haunt the workplace. Journalist Jeff Guo points to research that shows that bootstrapping and education were not the keys to Asian economic success. Instead, it was the dismantling of key barriers and an intentional reduction of racist sentiment that helped Chinese immigrants, for example, move rapidly from the reviled and underpaid laborer class in the first half of the twentieth century to earning wages in line with white workers in the second half. “[It] was the result of Asians finally receiving better opportunities — finally earning equal pay for equal skills and equal work,” he says.

The uglier part is why the barriers fell away. “Elevating Asian Americans as ‘deserving’ and ‘hardworking’ was a tactic to denigrate African Americans,” he says, which also minimized the potential impact of the civil rights movement.

The model minority myth is also about social behaviors which may be reinforcing new biases.

Here’s just one example that may sound familiar. In the early twentieth century, “Asian American men were represented in mainstream media as conniving, threatening sexual predators who posed a particular danger to white women,” says Adia Harvey Wingfield, a writer, researcher and professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. Now that Asian American men have learned “to behave appropriately,” a new bias has emerged. “Research suggests that whites see Asian American men as being unfit for management, because they are stereotyped as passive and weak.”

Further, says Wingfield, without a collective history of activism like that found in the black community, Asian professionals experiencing discrimination in education or the workplace often lack the cultural tools to advocate for themselves and suffer in silence.

I don’t want to gloss over the fact that plenty of Asian Americans – think Cambodians, Filipinos and Laotians – are still wildly overrepresented in low-wage jobs and aren’t part of this conversation at all. But the history of being forced into an unnatural rivalry means that black and Asian white-collar colleagues have lost opportunities to collaborate on the kind of culture change that would benefit everyone.

It’s an issue worth considering, tweets Ellen K. Pao, the former Reddit CEO and co-founder of Project Include.

“I wonder if clumping of Asian employees with white employees is designed to prevent Asian workers from speaking up for change,” she tweeted in responseto Gee’s and Beck’s findings. “If Asian Americans help push for real inclusion, change should come a lot faster and cover more than just gender.”

Why Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is still necessary

Posted on May 23rd, 2018 by imprentacomm

We are the fastest growing major racial group, yet we’re still starved for representation.

The minute any Asian American makes an appearance in the mainstream media, the Facebook walls and Twitter feeds of other Asian Americans light up: We like the posts about Chloe Kim winning the Olympic Gold Medal for snowboarding, or retweet the trailer to Crazy Rich Asians, the first major motion picture featuring an all Asian cast in years.

Asian Americans are often proud of the fact that we can pull out the names of celebrities and politicians who are Asian at the drop of the hat, like it’s some sort of party trick. But the truth is, we can do so because Asian Americans remain dramatically underrepresented in so many industries.

We are the fastest growing major racial group in America, yet we’re still starved for representation in the media: That invisibility is why initiatives like Asian Pacific American Heritage Month are still so necessary.

Take a look at your movies, newspapers, the evening news. Asian Americans make up a little more than 4% of those who work for newspaper and online media outlets, according to the American Society of News Editors. A USC Annenberg study showed that in 2016, 44 of the 100 top American movies didn’t feature even one speaking character on screen who was Asian.

In this country, Asian Americans seem to face a paradox: We’re the “model minority,” often held up as an example of a group that cannot claim discrimination because of our outsized performance on standardized tests and college attendance. It’s an unfortunate stereotype sometimes used to oppress other racial groups, undermining solidarity with other minorities who struggle with representation issues, too. But it also erases the many Asian Americans living in poverty and struggling, and can fool some to thinking that Asian Americans have already made it in this country.

Asian Americans know otherwise — and this push for accurate representation is at the core of the mission of organizations such as the Asian American Journalists Association. Every May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as a way to highlight the growing number of Asian American faces that we see in the media.

AAJA was founded in 1981 in Los Angeles, by a group of Asian-American journalists who were eager to help build up a pipeline for more journalists like themselves, and ensure that the news industry’s coverage reflected the reality of the growing Asian community in this country. Now, we have 20 chapters around the globe and more than 1,500 members, representing the more than 6% of Asian Americans who make up the country.

And yet, we still find ourselves missing from the ranks of newsroom leaders: A diversity survey by the American Society of News Editors showed that Asian Americans, Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders make up 3.31% of newsroom leaders in print and online outlets, while more than 86% of newsroom leaders are white.

It’s tough to imagine the disparities don’t matter when it comes to coverage. That’s where AAJA plays a crucial role: as a watchdog and a liaison for our community. Among the instances AAJA leaders responded to in the past few years was in response to a Fox News satirical segment blatantly making fun of people in New York City’s Chinatown. The moment sparked a meeting between AAJA members and Fox executives, as well as a town hall to help further the conversation.

Just this year, our local Boston chapter had to publicly call out WEEI, a sports radio station, when a radio personality used an exaggerated Asian accent to mock New England Patriot Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee. Work from the local chapter, particularly Boston Globecolumnist Shirley Leung, prompted a suspension of the radio host, who later apologized to Yee.

But we also know it’s not just about responding to blatantly unfair coverage in the media. We also have to celebrate those Asian Americans who are changing the game: For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we honored Diep Tran, an American Theatre senior editor whose pieces grapple with issues of race and representation within the theater industry, and Frank Shyong, a Los Angeles Times reporter whose work captures the diversity within the Asian-American communities of Southern California.

It’s this kind of work that shows us there’s hope to shedding this invisibility that many Asian Americans feel when we turn on our televisions or read our news — and we’ll keep fighting until we finally feel seen and heard.

This column was written by Yvonne Leow, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Ramy Inocencio, Pia Sarkar, Shawn Nicole Wong, Nicole Dungca, Julia B. Chan, Sameer Rao, Anh Do and Mihir Zaveri — members of the governing board of the Asian American Journalists Association.