Overrepresented or just Misrepresented?

So everyone has seen this article in the Washington Examiner about Asian American kids who don’t check the Asian American box when they apply to college.  I’m sure everyone has differing opinions about whether or not race should play into college admissions and whether or not this is unfair to Asian Americans.  On the latter point, I think no one, regardless of race, is going to suffer terribly because they can’t go to an Ivy League school—the go-to-a-name-brand school mentality we have in this country is kind of unhealthy.  Though maybe as the daughter of Asian American kind-of-like-hippies-but-they-thought-hippies-could-be-racist-sometimes parents, I’m biased.

But are all Asian Americans really hurt by affirmative action?  And how does the way we talk about this reveal our biases about race and what “Asian Americans” are?

What bothered me most was this article’s explanation as to why there are so many Asian Americans on college campuses…by quoting Amy Chua.  My heart is breaking:

 “’Chinese parents can say, ‘You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you,’” Chua wrote. “By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.’

Of course, not all Asian-Americans fit this stereotype. They are not always obedient hard workers who get top marks. Some embrace American rather than Asian culture. Their economic status, ancestral countries and customs vary, and their forebears may have been rich or poor.

But compared with American society in general, Asian-Americans have developed a much stronger emphasis on intense academic preparation as a path to a handful of the very best schools.”

I love how this article quotes a woman who makes sweeping generalizations about “Western” versus “Chinese” parents, then admits that this is a generalization, but then states the generalization is true because Asian Americans and their “emphasis on intense academic preparation.”  Comes to close to saying that all stereotypes about Asian Americans are true (even though they’re stereotypes).  Also, what does “Some embrace American rather than Asian culture” mean?  What is “Asian culture”?  Not sure if we all knew this, but Asia’s a huge continent.  Also, why can’t Asian American cultures be part of the larger American culture?  What is American culture if you exclude “ethnic” cultures?  Just white?

And while there are some Asian groups who on average immigrate with more money and become overrepresented at the colleges like Yale, not every Asian American group is overrepresented.  If all these groups share the same “Asian” culture, which pushes them to excel, then why aren’t they all “successful?

I think all this article proves is that we need to re-approach how we talk about Asian Americans and affirmative action before we start the conversation again.


Some Asians’ college strategy: Don’t check ‘Asian’

For years, many Asian-Americans have been convinced that it’s harder for them to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.

Studies show that Asian-Americans meet these colleges’ admissions standards far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the U.S. population, and that they often need test scores hundreds of points higher than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance of admission. Critics say these numbers, along with the fact that some top colleges with race-blind admissions have double the Asian percentage of Ivy League schools, prove the existence of discrimination.

The way it works, the critics believe, is that Asian-Americans are evaluated not as individuals, but against the thousands of other ultra-achieving Asians who are stereotyped as boring academic robots.

Now, an unknown number of students are responding to this concern by declining to identify themselves as Asian on their applications.

For those with only one Asian parent, whose names don’t give away their heritage, that decision can be relatively easy. Harder are the questions that it raises: What’s behind the admissions difficulties? What, exactly, is an Asian-American — and is being one a choice?

Read the rest of the article and interviews by Yale students here: http://news.yahoo.com/asians-college-strategy-dont-check-asian-174442977.html

The Immigration Story: A Conversation with Jose Antonio Vargas

This Thursday, Kasama, the Yale Law School, and AACC are co-sponsoring a discussion with Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer prize journalist who wrote this article in the New York Times about his experience as an undocumented immigrant.  I’m really excited about this event—not only has Vargas shed light on issues surrounding immigration, but he has also put an Asian American face on an experience that we in the Asian American community rarely discuss as affecting us.

More information about the event below.  I hope everyone can come.

The Immigration Story:

A Conversation with Jose Antonio Vargas

Thurs, Dec 1 at 6:30pm

Yale Law School, Room 127

with a reception in the Alumni Reading Room to follow



Meet your new APA Blog editor!

Congratulations to Lia Dun, CC 2014, the 2012 editor-in-chief of the APA Blog!

And here is the new AASA board for the 2012 calendar year:

  • Co-moderators, Stella Cao and Ysabel Ilagan
  • Political Action and Education Committee (PAEC) Co-chairs, Chris Marnell and Winnie Huang
  • Community Development Chairs, Andrew Chun and Jason Kuo
  • Secretary, Connie Lu
  • Treasurer, Cynthia Chan
  • Webmaster, Lijin Chen

Asian-Americans are best kept demographic secret

Original article here: http://progressive.org/asian_american_demographic.html

Asian-Americans run more than 1.5 million small businesses that provide jobs for more than 3 million Americans. We own homes and have very high rates of citizenship. At the same time, certain ethnic groups, such as the Hmong, Bangladeshi and Cambodian communities, continue to face lengthy unemployment, high poverty levels and lack of access to job training and other government programs. Yet, increasingly and across ethnic lines, more and more of us are voting.

All this shatters long-held stereotypes of Asian-Americans as the “invisible” or “model” minority. This article from The Progressive considers the role Asian-Americans will play in the upcoming 2012 elections.

Occupy Asian America?

Occupy Wall Street—whether or not you support the movement or not, I think we can all agree that it’s not something the Asian American community at Yale is super involved with. I get the feeling that Yalies in general aren’t as involved in the Occupy movement (and I’m not going to analyze why that is), but even among non-Asian American groups, I hear jokes every once in a while along the lines of “You’re doing an investment banking internship?” “Yeah, I want to be part of the 1%.”  And maybe it’s just the part of the Asian American community I’m part of at Yale, but Occupy doesn’t seem to come up very often, even in passing or as a joke.

There have been plenty of instances of Asian Americans getting involved in the Occupy movement (see here and here).  What’s up with us Asian American Yalies?

Some reasons to throw out there:

  • a “culture” thing about Asians not liking to raise their voices– I’m obviously not a fan of this one.  What specific pan-Asian “culture” would cause that?
  • Asian Americans at Yale just aren’t interested in these kinds of more grassroots movements
  •  Asian Americans at Yale think they’ve already succeeded and may even be part of the “53%,” which I guess ties into the model minority myth and also makes me wonder how “successful” Asian Americans really are

I do think it’s odd that Asian American Yalies aren’t as interested in the Occupy Movement.  Are there really so few of us who don’t feel like the 99%?

What does everyone think?

Call for Applications – Board Positions for AASA

Are you interested in Asian American social and political issues? What about organizing pan-Asian events? If so, consider running for a board position on the Asian American Students Alliance for the 2012 calendar year!

Some tentative events being planned for next term include:

  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
  • Pan-Asian Extravaganza
  • Mentorship Program Panels with Asian American Graduate Students

If any of these projects interest you, or if you have any ideas for projects that benefit the entire Asian American community, we highly encourage you to run (2 positions max)!

Expectations on board:

In addition to baseline responsibilities for the position you run for, you will be expected to develop and execute your own project(s) as well as contribute to other board members’ projects. These projects are expected to benefit the entire Asian American community through promoting awareness/education or community-building. Guidance and feedback will be provided by Moderators. Good teamwork and communication skills are necessary. If you wish to run but do not know which roles you may be interested in, we will suggest a role for you during our mandatory pre-election information session. More information can be found at www.yaleaasa.org.

Benefits to you:

You will learn a great deal about issues relevant to Asian Americans today. In addition, you will learn leadership and logistical skills that will be vital for your career at Yale and beyond. You will develop a network of peers who share similar interests and meet mentors who will guide you and help you grow.

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CASA Fall Guest Alex Wong

Featured on the award-winning TV show So You Think You Can Dance, Alex Wong is an internationally acclaimed dancer and one of the fastest rising stars in dance today.

Alex has danced with the American Ballet Theater and performed as Miami City Ballet’s principal soloist, a position he gave up to compete on So You Think You Can Dance. Since then, he has performed for the first season of Steven Spielburg’s new TV show, Smash.

Come to LC 101 at 8:30 on Tuesday, November 15th, for an intimate discussion with Alex about his childhood with dance, his path to his ballet accomplishments, and competing on SYTYCD, all in the context of Alex’s Chinese American heritage and stereotypes of Asian Americans in the arts and media.

For a short preview of Alex’s talents, take a look at his Emmy-nominated performance on So You Think You Can Dance.

Co-sponsored by UOFC, Intercultural Affairs Council, Asian American Cultural Center, & the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Department

JASU Presents: Dinner Discussion Series on Asian Identity

Want to talk about Asian identity at Yale over dinner? Join JASU in a casual conversation on what it means to be Asian-American at Yale. Open to anyone interested. You do not have to be Asian to join, and all perspectives on issues are welcome. Discussion limited to 12 people per dinner (each topic below will have its own dinner discussion).

Tuesday, November 15, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Have you ever wondered if people see you as “just another Asian?” What is the “typical Yale Asian”? What is Asian/AsianAmerican Identity at Yale? Is “Asian identity” an issue at Yale? Do we even need to talk about it? What is the community/general environment like for Asians/Asian Americans? How does being Asian make your “Yale experience” different? How are you perceived? How do you perceive others, and other Asians/Americans?

Success defined: Is success defined differently specifically for Asians/Asian Americans/non-Asians? What does success mean to you? Do you have pre-determined standards for success because of your ethnic background?

Featured Artist of the Week

Monsters Calling Home – Growing Up from dchae on Vimeo.

Inspired by stories of immigrant families and the wildly appropriate 90s children TV show ‘Aahh!!! Real Monsters.’