Asian Heritage Month: Disaggregating Asian America


The article is published here.

For Asian Heritage Month, the Civic Engagement committee released an article discussing the importance of disaggregating data for Southeast Asian communities. Snippets of the article are found below:

It is important, therefore, to recognize the discrepancies in educational attainment, income, and poverty within the Asian population in the U.S. Lending to this discrepancy is the language diversity. 53% of Vietnamese people in the U.S. have Limited English Proficiency (LEP) compared to 24% of Japanese people in the U.S. The national average is 8.5%. This language barrier makes it difficult to learn in school and apply for financial assistance and jobs. The assumption that Asians in the U.S. are well-off has dangerous consequences. It ignores the lack of social, economic, and political power within the Southeast Asian community. An inability to properly address these issues will only further the education and income gaps.
These differences in lived experience are rooted deeply within the historical context of each group and its relationship with the U.S. This is largely due to different periods of immigration/refuge to the U.S. The term “model minority” was first used in 1966 to describe the prosperity of Japanese Americans two decades after World War II. Japanese immigrants had been coming to the U.S. since the 1880s as labor workers. This created a facade that Asian Americans were model citizens that did not welfare or assistance. However, the Vietnamese population in the U.S. did not surge until 1975 when refugees were fleeing from their war-torn country. Assimilating to a country that believed all Asian Americans were well-off meant that there was little help for those that needed it most. Currently, Cambodians who have been convicted of a crime are being targeted for deportation. The same targeted acts of oppression can be seen with the Japanese internment camps during WWII and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The relatively recent influx of Southeast Asians to the U.S.–and thus the relatively recent exclusionary and oppressive acts against them–have made it difficult for Southeast Asians to prosper and grow in the U.S.

Posted on

May 23, 2018