Still the “Other”

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Following up on revealing survey results it released over eight years ago, this week, the Committee of 100 released a new report on the perceptions of Asian Americans. And it’s pretty much what you’d expect. Here’s the press release (PDF): SURVEY INDICATES THAT ASIAN AMERICANS ARE STILL THE “OTHER” DESPITE CONTRIBUTIONS TO U.S.

The report indicates that, despite a positive trend in attitudes toward Asian Americans, racial discrimination and suspicions still exist. Surprise, surprise. According to the survey — even in 2009 — the majority of the general population cannot make a distinction between Chinese Americans and Asian Americans in general, treating all as one generic, monolithic ethnic group.

Sure, we’ve made strides, and there has definitely been significant progress on a lot of levels. But no matter how you slice it, there are still just a lot of people out there who can’t seem to wrap their head around the fact that we are indeed Americans too. In the eyes of many, we’re still apparently outsiders. Most notable in the dat are the misperceptions around:

Loyalty of Asian Americans: Despite the approximately 59,141 Asian Americans serving in active duty in the U.S. Armed Services, and the more than 300 Asian Americans who have been injured or died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, there are still suspicions about the loyalty of Asian Americans. Among the general population, 45 percent believe Asian Americans are more loyal to their countries of ancestry than to the United States, up from 37 percent in the 2001 survey. In contrast, approximately three in four of the Chinese Americans surveyed say Chinese Americans would support the United States in military or economic conflicts, compared to only approximately 56 percent of the general population who agrees.

Political Influence: While the Asian American community celebrated the cabinet appointments of members to the Obama administration – Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Veterans Affairs Secretary General Eric Shinseki – there is a significant lack of representation among other federal, state and local elected leadership. There are currently six Asian American members of the House of Representatives from continental U.S. states and two Senators from Hawaii (no Senator from a continental U.S. state), and only one Governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. C-100’s survey reports that 36 percent of the general population thinks that Asian Americans have the right amount of power and influence in Washington, while only 15 percent of Chinese Americans believe this to be true. However, 47 percent of the general population believes that Asian Americans have too little power in Washington, with 82 percent of Chinese Americans agreeing.

Leadership in Education Institutions & Corporate America: Although stereotypes around Asian Americans as the “model minority” continue to be perpetuated in educational institutions and in the workforce, the presence of Asian Americans is not matched with representation in leadership.

Education: The report shows that 65 percent of the general population believes Asian American students are adequately represented on college campuses, with 45 percent of Chinese Americans agreeing and 36 percent arguing that they are underrepresented. In reality, there are only 33 Asian American college presidents in the United States (out of about 3,200) and, while analysis shows that among the top sector of higher education institutions – as listed in U.S. News & World Report’s 2005 rankings – Asian Americans are well represented as students (6.4 percent) and faculty (6.2 percent), only about 2.4 percent are represented in the positions of president, provost or chancellor.

Corporate America: Similarly, while Asian Americans hold only about 1.5 percent of corporate board seats among Fortune 500 Companies, 3 C-100’s report found that 50 percent of the general population believes Asian Americans are adequately represented on corporate boards, while only 23 percent of Chinese Americans agree. Forty-six percent of the general population also believes Asian Americans are promoted at the same pace as Caucasian Americans, with only 29 percent of Chinese Americans saying the same.

The full report, available as a PDF, can be downloaded from the Committee of 100’s website here. Next week, C-100 will be conducting a panel discussion in Washington D.C. to address the report findings. It’s Thursday, April 30 at the Committee’s 18th Annual Conference. Panelists will include Congressman Mike Honda; Charles Cook, Cook Political Report; Antonia Hernandez, California Community Foundation; and Ralph Everett, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. For more information, go here.

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