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ASIAN AMERICANS: GROWTH AND DIVERSITY CHAPTER 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders • Diverse group that is one of the fastest growing segments of US population • Includes Chinese Americans and Filipinos • Includes the Hmong that do not correspond to any one nation • See “race and ethnicity” in America framed as a Black-White issue – “Tri-racial” • Hispanics that are now added to Black-White racial issue The “Model Minority” Image Explored • General image people in US hold of Asian Americans as a group • Despite prejudice and discrimination, succeeded – Economically, socially, and educationally without political or violent confrontations with Whites • Variation of blaming the victim – “praising the victim” Education and the Economy • Impressive school enrollment compared to the total population • 2004 – 49.4% Asian Americans, 25 or older had Bachelor degrees compares with 30.6% of Whites • Often viewed as successful overachievers, but – Have unrecognized and overlooked needs – Experience discomfort and harassment on campus – Under-represented on college campuses – Experience stress and alienation on campus • Asian Americans as group have more formal schooling than Whites • Occupationally Asian Americans occupy mid-level occupations and are under-represented in top management positions in corporate America • Glass ceiling and glass wall impact on upward mobility • Do well in small family owned and operated businesses • Agriculture • Middlemen Minorities – Occupy jobs within the middle of the occupational structure rather than the bottom where racial and ethnic minorities are typically located • Another misleading sign of success is high income as a group – Approach parity with Whites because of greater achievement than Whites in formal schooling – Whites earn more than their Asian counterparts of the same age – If education from overseas, they are devalued by US employers • “Model Minority” stereotype is a disservice – Excludes Asians from social programs and conceals unemployment and other social ills – Local governments are eliminating Asian Americans from the definition of minority The Door Half Open • Anti-Asian American feeling built on long cultural tradition • Yellow Peril – Refers to the generalized prejudice toward Asian people and their customs • Asian Americans are often stereotyped and ignored or described in negative ways in the media – Overgeneralizations – Ethnic slurs – Inflammatory reporting – Japan bashing – Media invisibility – Model minority • Subject to institutional discrimination • Marginal status of Asian Pacific Islanders leaves them vulnerable to selective and collective oppression – 1999 Wen Ho Lee • Resulted in Asian Americans now viewed as security risks • 32% of feel that Chinese Americans more loyal to China than US – Asian Americans avoid top-secret science employment because of subjection to racial profiling at high security levels • Young Asians in US struggle for identity because their heritage is devalued by those in positions of influence Political Activity • Politically Asian Americans tend to be less active than other subordinate groups • Function of – historical influences – cultural influences – demographic influences • Immigrants come from nations where political participation was unheard from or looked upon with skepticism and sometimes fear • Six factors why Asian Americans not more active in politics – Traits needed to become a candidate are alien to Chinese culture – Older people remember blatant discrimination and tell others to be quiet and not attract attention – Recent immigrants have no experience with democracy and have distrust of government – Concentration on getting ahead economically and education of their children – Careers of the brightest are in business and science, not law or public administration – Asian American groups are dispersed and cannot control election of even local candidates Diversity Among Asian Americans • Census Bureau enumerates 47 groups • Diverse historically, culturally, politically, and economically • Asian Indians – Pattern of immigration • Between 1820 and 1965 approximately 17,000 came • Many came under the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act – Tended to be better educated, urban and English speaking – Religious diversity • Hindu • Sikhs • Muslims • Zoroastrians – Religious traditions remain strong among new arrivals – Concern about erosion of traditional family authority • Desi pronounced (“DAY-see”) – Colloquial name for people who trace their ancestry to South Asia, especially India • Arranged marriages – Cultural conflicts between national traditions and American culture • Filipino Americans – Third largest Asian American group in US – Considered Asian because of geography, but physically and culturally, reflect centuries of Spanish colonial rule and recent colonial occupation of US – Immigration divided into four distinct periods • First group in the 1920’s; male and employed in agriculture • Second group as contract workers in Hawaiian sugar cane plantations • Third group after World War II included veterans and wives of US soldiers • Newest immigrants arrived under 1965 Immigration Act and included many professionals (physicians and nurses) – American born Filipinos tend to be educationally and economically disadvantaged in comparison to new arrivals – Lack significant ethnic organizations-function of • Strong loyalty to family and church • Diversity among Filipinos make forming ties problematic • Organizations are club like or fraternal and largely invisible • Show signs of seeking involvement in broader community • Southeast Asian Americans – Came largely from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos – Many arrived as political refugees after the Communist take over in their respective countries – Many experienced adjustment problems culturally, and economically – Crime among this ethnic group has two ugly aspects • Reprisals for the war • Emergence of gangs as the young seek support of close-knit groups – 1995 US initiated normal diplomatic relations with Vietnam • More movement between the nations • Case Study: A Hmong Community – Sizable population in Wausau, Wisconsin – Come from rural areas of Laos and Vietnam • Recruited to work for the CIA during the war • Life difficult after US pulled out, many immigrated because US policy open to their residency – Faced major issues of assimilation especially in language and education – Conflict over contemporary US policies • Recruited to gather information about communists during the war • Continued disputes over whether US may lift trade barriers with communist-rum government of Laos • Korean Americans – Community is result of three waves of immigration • First group of 7,000 immigrants came between 1903 and 1910 and settled and worked as laborers in Hawaii • Second group of 14,000 came after the Korean War from 1951-1964 • Third group and largest group came under the 1965 Immigration Act – Face cultural and economic adjustment problems • Stress, loneliness, alcoholism, family strife, and mental disorders – Ilchomose • “1.5 generation” – Korean immigrants that accompanied parents to US when young and now occupy middle marginal positions between Korean and US culture – Church is the most visible and important organization outside of the family • Provides a sense of community • In the early 1990s, nationwide attention was given to the friction between Korean Americans and other subordinate groups, primarily African Americans, but also Hispanics – 60% of US born Korean and half of the women born abroad are in the labor force • Significant because of established, well-defined family roles that allow women to be homemakers and mothers – Kye (pronounced “kay”) • Special form of development capital used to subsidize businesses and is not protected by laws or insurance – Conflict with other minority groups gained national attention during 1992 South LA riots • Hawaii and its People – Effect of White arrival on the Hawaiians was disastrous • Civil war and disease reduced number to 30,000 by 1900 and is probably 10,000 now – 1900 Organic Act • Guaranteed racial equality but foreign rule was psychologically devastating – Japanese and Haoles (Wealthy Whites) dominate the economy • Japanese especially important in education – 58% of teachers and also dominate politics on the island – Hawaii has always been more racially harmonious than mainland • Never had segregation, Jim Crow, slavery, or laws against interracial marriage – Sovereignty Movement • Effort by indigenous people of Hawaii to secure a measure of self- government and restoration of their lands • Similar to the sovereignty efforts of Native Americans – Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act or the Akaka Bill • Provide people of Hawaiian ancestry more say over resources – provide affordable housing, take steps to preserve culture, and create a means by which they could better express their grievances – Hawaii is no way a racial paradise • Certain occupations and social classes are dominated by a single racial group • It is expected that people will not totally resist prejudice as the island’s isolation is reduced • Relative to the mainland, race relations characterized more by harmony than discord QUESTIONS • How is the model minority image a disservice to both Asian Americans and other subordinate racial and ethnic groups? • In what respects has the mass media image of Asian Americans been both undifferentiated and negative? • How is the model minority image reinforced by images in the media? • How has the tendency of many Korean Americans to help each other been an asset but also been viewed with suspicion by those outside the community? • What critical events or legislative acts increased each Asian American group’s immigration into the United States? • Keeping in mind that adolescence is based on culture and values, coming of age is difficult given the ambiguities of adolescence in the United States. How is it doubly difficult for the children of immigrants? How do you think the immigrants themselves, such as those from Asia, view this process? • American Indians, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Black are all convenient terms to refer to diverse groups of people. Do you see these broad umbrella terms as being more appropriate for one group than for the others? Explain your answer. • To what degree do race relations in Hawaii offer both promise and a chilling dose of reality to the future of race and ethnicity on the mainland?
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