“Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States,” according to a new Pew Research Center report, which is curiously titled, “The Rise of Asian Americans.” Members of this community are “more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success,” the report said.
Asian-American groups quickly pounced on the research, however, saying the community is hardly monolithic. The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans issued a statement saying the survey “could lead some to draw conclusions that reflect inaccurate stereotypes about Asian Americans being a community with high levels of achievement and few challenges.”
“Pacific Islander women experience myriad health disparities, discrimination, long-term unemployment, domestic violence, foreclosure and more, but reports like this make it hard for those in need to have their voices heard,” echoed the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
The Japanese American Citizens League also expressed dissatisfaction: “Asian Americans make up 5.6% of the U.S. population and include over 45 different ethnicities speaking over 100 different dialects. While our community reflects diversity, this research does not; instead, it sweeps Asian Americans into one broad group and paints our community as exceptionally successful without any challenges. This study perpetuates false stereotypes and the model minority. The JACL strongly advocates for further research and analysis specifically regarding disaggregated data collection.”
Colorlines reported similar sentiments from the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. “More than a third of all Hmong, Cambodian and Laotian Americans over the age of 25 don’t have a high school degree,” the article. And, “while some Asians may report incomes at or higher than whites, Cambodian and Laotian Americans report poverty rates as high as, and higher than, the poverty rate of African Americans, according to the 2010 census.”
Pew Senior Researcher Cary Funk responded to Colorlines, saying the survey is “a detailed analysis of the census data combined with a nationally representative survey of all Asian Americans. …If you are going to talk about Asian Americans as a whole then the facts are what the facts are.”
The Rise of Asian Americans was based on “a nationally representative sample of 3,511 Asian Americans” who were interviewed in English and seven Asian languages by telephone from January 3 to March 27, 2012, the report said.
This being a presidential election year, there is, of course, a political angle. “Even though Asian Americans are slightly less than 6 percent of the U.S. population, they have become much-coveted voters. Both President Obama’s re-election campaign and the Republican Party have launched efforts to reach Asian-American voters and encourage members of the community to run for elective office,” The Seattle Times reported.
Does this survey reinforce stereotypes about Asian Americans?