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:

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?

For Asian Americans, educational attainment varies widely

Asian Americans overall obtain high levels of formal education, but an analysis of recent census data reveals large disparities between Asian American ethnic groups.

The percentage of high school graduates is as high as 96 percent among Taiwanese Americans and as low as 61 percent among Hmong Americans, according to a report [PDF] released last week by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. The rate of bachelor’s degrees ranges from 12 percent among Laotians to 73 percent among Taiwanese.

Read the original article here:

Link of the Day

Over the summer, chinaSMACK, Chinese news and pop culture website, launched a new site called Diaspora @ chinaSMACK. This section features a collection of articles and personal anecdotes by overseas Chinese, exploring issues of culture, society and self-identity, all told from a fresh perspective. Some very thought provoking articles, a couple that warrant a bit of an eye-roll, but still worth the look. For starters, check out I became American and the world kept turning, by a contributor at the blog Hypermodern.



Bulldog Buzz week of 8/31 — Shopping Period Edition

Got an extra spot on your schedule? Interested in Asian-American topics or just looking for a fun class? Check out these gems on OCS:

HIST 183: Asian American History, 1800 to the Present
A new perspective. Taught by Professor Mary Lui, this class introduces some of the key topics in Asian-American history that were probably skimmed over in your other more “mainstream” American history classes. A variety of Asian cultures are covered, for a rich and eye-opening course.

HIST 166J: Asian American Women and Gender, 1830 to the Present
Not just for Asian women. Also taught my Lui, this junior history seminar (sorry non-majors!) explores the challenges and accomplishments of Asian American women, providing a cultural and sociological perspective on a little-discussed topic.

AMST 322: Gender, Family and Cultural Identity in Asia and the United States
Bridge the culture gap. WGSS department lecturer and international feminism expert Geetanjali Chanda teaches this class on identity formation in different Asian countries and U.S. perceptions of Asian culture. It will change the way you think.

ENGL 339: American Literary Nationalisms
The bookish type. With African American Studies Professor GerShun Avilez, read works that highlight the influence of nationalist frameworks on modern American literature. Includes not just Asian American nationalism but also the Black Arts Movement and feminist and queer organizing, among others.

AMST 695: Craft in Colonial and Independent India
Trip to the museum. This graduate-level seminar looks at South Indian craft-making, from textiles to metalwork. Professor of American Decorative Arts Edward Cooke introduces both historical and contemporary contexts for the craftsmen’s work, and relates them to prominent cultural issues in India.

“Ground Zero Mosque” Imam talks tolerance

Guest Contributor Sam Greenberg, SY ’13

Imam Feisal Rauf, founder and chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, will give a talk on religious tolerance and interfaith cooperation at Yale on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Sheffield-Sterling Strathcona Hall, 1 Prospect Street. The discussion, organized by Jews and Muslims at Yale, will be moderated by Rabbi James Ponet, head of the Slifka Center for Jewish Life. It is free and open to the public.

Imam Rauf has received national and international attention for his efforts to increase understanding and acceptance between Americans and the modern Muslim world, which is the stated goal of the Cordoba Initiative. Among his projects is the Cordoba House near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, the controversial proposal to build an Islamic Community Center to serve New York’s Muslim population. Imam Rauf also founded the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a nonprofit that works to build understanding between the general public and the Muslim community through dialogues in faith, identity, culture and arts.

The Imam’s talk will emphasize how moderate-minded Americans of all faiths and backgrounds can join together to promote peace and work against the forces of extremism. The undergraduate organization Jews and Muslims at Yale strives to create understanding and dialogue between Jews and Muslims in the Yale community on religious and political issues. The group seeks to foster strong ties and lasting friendships among its members that can help break down barriers and create new perspectives on present conflicts.

The event is generously co-sponsored by the Intercultural Affairs Council of Yale College, the Slifka Center for Jewish Life, the Yale Divinity School, and the Chaplain’s Office.

For more information on the Imam and the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, check out some articles on the topic here.

Why do Asians all look the same?

All right, obviously, we don’t. I’ve never been too bothered by people who think that though, for one because their own inattention and lack of exposure isn’t my problem, and also because I actually frequently think, “Wow, that person I just saw on the street looks exactly like [acquaintance of the same ethnicity!]!”

But sometimes it does gets a bit old, like when your seminar professor, one of those “hardcore,” demanding types who makes a big show of getting to know each student personally (and also frequently white, male, and over 50 years old in my past experience but I won’t comment on that) constantly calls on you by the name of one of the two other Asian girls (both of whom are from completely different Asian countries) in your class. And vice versa. End personal rant.

Think you would never do such a thing? Try taking the age-old quiz at and see if you really know what Chinese, Korean, and Japanese people look like. And if your score makes you feel like you’ve dishonored your family, perhaps this handy guide can be of use…

By the way, I’m pretty sure I got below average the first time I took that quiz. I guess all these years of watching different Asian dramas have all been for nothing.