Why Are Asians Ignored By The Media, Research Institutes, And Politicians?

Hong Kong SceneryAccording to a new study by the Urban Institute, the wealth gap among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics has continued to increase. Before the recession, White families, on average, were about four times wealthier than non-White families, according to Federal Reserve data. By 2010, White families were about six times as wealthy. The most recent data shows the average White family has about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for Black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families. But what about Asian families?

Last I checked, there are 4.3 billion Asians in the world, making up 62% of the world’s population. What’s surprising is that only around 5% of the American population is Asian. If there’s only 16 million people to sell to out of a country population of 310 million, no wonder why nobody really cares about Asians. Money talks!

When you grow up attending international schools, living in the Spanish house in college and working in Manhattan and San Francisco, it’s very hard to accept a world where there isn’t much diversity. 33% of San Francisco’s population is Asian for example. This post will attempt to understand why Asians consistently get ignored by researchers, politicians, and the media. I’ll also offer solutions as to how Asian Americans can gain more coverage.

WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE CARE ABOUT ASIANS?

1) The media does not understand. We tend to write about what we know and who we know. If there is an underrepresentation of Asians in journalism, a profession most recently voted as the worst occupation in America, then is it any wonder why the media doesn’t write about Asian issues? How is a non-Asian supposed to understand the cultural differences if they’ve never been to Asia, don’t speak an Asian language, and have hardly any Asian friends? They can’t, so we can’t blame the media for their ignorance.

2) Politicians are blind. To make money, all you had to do was look at Mitt Romney’s crowd of supporters during election night and bet he would lose the election. There’s hardly any diversity with his supporters, even though the American population continuously becomes more diverse. Whatever your political preference, it’s pretty clear that if Republican candidates can’t connect with the majority of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, they will never win again. A full 78% of non-white voters supported President Obama.

3) Misery and suffering. The media loves to focus on the suffering of others. Every time a bubble bursts you will read scores of stories about how so and so lost their fortune. If you are an overrepresented minority in higher education that ultimately earns higher than average or median incomes, then you’re no fun. Misery loves company. When your industry has shrunk by 60% in the past 10 years and the median pay is only about $36,000 a year, relative success stories do not interest you.

4) Asians are less vocal. It’s hard to think of any Asian Jesse Jacksons in America. Nor are there any massive protest movements by Asians in America except for when Abercrombie & Fitch puts out racist t-shirts. Asian culture is relatively more reserved when they are a minority. Asians in Asia are an entirely different story. When the majority do not hear about a minority’s problems, then it’s as if there are no problems at all.

5) Asians have a strong culture of saving money. The national savings rate in China and India are 38% and 35%, respectively according to OECD and World Bank. Compare such levels with the savings rates in the US at 3.9%, Australia at 2.5%, and Britain at 7% and there is really no comparison. If you save money you are more free to do whatever you want. When you do what you want, there is less crime, more stability, and greater happiness. There aren’t as many problems for politicians, think tanks, and researchers to try and “fix.”

Racial wealth gap increasing, but no mention of Asians. Source: Urban.org

Racial wealth gap increasing, but no mention of Asians. Source: Urban.org

IT’S ALL ABOUT EDUCATION

The most interesting statistic is the level of educational attainment in the Asian community. According to the US Census Bureau in 2010, while the high school graduation rate for Asian Americans is on par with those of other ethnic groups, 50% of Asian Americans have attained at least a bachelor’s degree compared with the national average of 28%. Meanwhile, a whopping 71% of Indians have bachelors degree. When I got my MBA at Berkeley part-time, half of my class were Indian, and all of them had GMAT scores of over 720 out of 800. They were in the top 1% of the top 1%.

Asians make up around 21% of a Harvard class, while Asians dominate the campuses of UC Berkeley and UCLA with around a 50% representation. Given Asians only make up 5% of the American population, it’s clear they are an overrepresented minority in higher education. If you’re Asian, best of luck getting into a top university. You’re going to need it.

FINDING A VOICE FOR THE INVISIBLE RACE

Racial Demographics USA

Source: US Census Bureau 2010

In order to have a larger voice in America, a greater portion of the world’s 4.2 billion Asians needs to migrate to America. There has to be faster procreation growth for Asians who already live in America as there is no strength in small numbers. The majority will always rule the world and if you only comprise 5% of American’s population you aren’t going to get any respect from anyone. By the year 2060, the Census Bureau estimates the Hispanic population will double to 31% of the total population. Asians need to start getting busy as the Asian population is expected to only grow to 8% of the total population.

Those Asians in leadership positions must do what every single race before them has done, and that is to take care of their own. Go to any organization whose leader went to X school and is from Y country. If you have a new manager who is from Tunisia and went to Chico State, I guarantee you that in a couple years you’ll suddenly have a lot more Tunisians and Chico State grads in the mix! The same can be said for female managers who hire female employees and vice versa. Favoritism is alive and well.

It’s interesting that Asians are largely ignored in the media because of some belief that all Asians are smart, hard working, have stable households, and therefore never need much help. The most famous Asian American story in recent memory is Amy Chua and her “Tiger Mom” ways of getting her daughters into Ivy League schools. Believe it or not, there are Asian people who don’t do well in school, come from broken households, and need extra help due to various disadvantages.

Asian-American-IncomeI’m all for more equality among everybody. But consistently ignoring the Asian race is an increase in socioeconomic inequality. If we can’t effectively create income equality by perfectly redistributing wealth, then at least we must strive for socioeconomic equality where all races are treated the same and have the same voice. I argue there should be massive focus on how the Asian population has been able to overcome common immigration hurdles and dominate some of America’s best universities and occupations and apply the findings to other minority groups who are falling behind.

Any Asian readers out there who feel they are an invisible minority in America? Why do you think the media, politicians, and research institutes ignore Asians so much? Is the secret to greater wealth and prosperity simply more education? If so, why isn’t there more a focus on Asian culture instead?

Official definition of Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes people who indicate their race as “Asian Indian,” “Chinese,” “Filipino,” “Korean,” “Japanese,” “Vietnamese,” and “Other Asian” or provide other detailed Asian responses.

The full PDF of the Urban Institute’s report can be found here.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. eemusings says

    I am an Asian journo but am not interested in writing about “Asian” issues. Though perhaps I should be … The very few non white journos in mainstream news do tend to be more or less on the ethnic/cultural issues beat. Ideally, of course, you’d have a truly diverse staff covering all beats rather than practically token nonwhites basically just there to represent/cover their communities.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Never thought about the angle that there would be apathy among Asian journalists to want to write about Asian issues or include Asians in their stories. Thanks for the new perspective.

  2. Untemplater says

    It’s quite interesting that you bring this up. I can totally see the truth in this although I hadn’t really thought about it before. I can’t remember the last time I heard a stat through the media specifically about Asians. It’s always white, hispanic, and african american studies and statistics.

    Although advertising does include all four main racial groups – like in college pamphlets, TV commercials, magazine ads, etc.

    I agree that living in the Bay Area it’s easy to forget that most of the places in the US have super small to no Asians in their communities. San Francisco is super diverse, which is also why I like living here!

  3. david M says

    My wife is Asian (Born, raised and worked in Japan until we met).

    Also the city I live in is about 1/3 asian. The high school in my town, almost all of the highest performing students are Asian.

    Could part of the reason the media ignores Asian be that they do much better than whites on average in school and financially and the media does not want white people to have to realize they are not the superior race? Part of the reason anyways?

    • Financial Samurai says

      I wonder why most of the highest performing students in your town are Asian, especially if they are first generation with English as the second language.

      Maybe you have a point about your theory about the media, but hard to say. I do know based on the industry and their salaries, there are a lot of bitter folks who want to focus on negativity instead to make themselves feel better.

    • Kris @ Everyday Tips says

      I was about to make the same comment regarding Asians performing better than whites in school and financially. The city I live in have a very strong Asian presence. Our school district is one of the top in the state, and it is largely because of the Asian contingent. The kids are driven and the parents expect a tremendous amount out of the kids. Also, school is what the kids devote their time to. I would say our city is 40 percent Asian. However, all the rec sports teams when my kids were little comprised of almost entirely white kids.

      Also the average white family has $632,000 in wealth? I find that very surprising. Not saying it isn’t true, but that number seems high to me.

      • Financial Samurai says

        The $632,000 figure surprised me as well. Lots more money out there than people think. Hidden wealth and a bullish sign for the economy then.

        I added a chart in the post that highlights the figures again.

  4. Jasmine says

    I am an Indian. I dont believe a lot of Indians are yet in the voting phase yet. Many are still stuck in Green card phase because a lot of us came here during the IT Boom. Plus Indians are pushed around so much in India we kind of have the ‘live and let live’ attitude, never really believing we can have that many rights. We would only protest if there was something extremely wrong because otherwise we just don’t want to get on the wrong side of anyone! Compared to India, life here is much better :)

    I can relate to everything you say! About Mitt Romney – He did get a lot of votes. I mean its not like he lost by a huge margin. So I dont know if I agree with your Crowd of supporters theory. The only 2 indian american politicians i know Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley are not really Indian(Their parents were) and plus they are republican!

    PS: Love your blog! you are doing a great job!

    • Financial Samurai says

      Hi Jasmine, thanks for your thoughts. With an Electoral college vote of 336 for Obama and only 206 for Romney coupled with the fact that 78% of non-Whites voted for Obama, I think that is a LANDSLIDE victory.

      Interesting to note Bobby and Nikki are both Republican. I wonder why that is.Hmm.

      • Bill says

        The totals were:Out of 122 million voters, a little fewer than 61 million (or 50.6%) voted for Obama while about 58 million (47.8% did so for Romney). People can draw their own conclusions from those numbers as to landslide or not.

        • Financial Samurai says

          Yes, the total vote split was close but we are talking about alpha in the vote. The majority White vote was much more evenly split. The split among all minorities was heavily skewed towards Obama. Hence, a political strategist must therefore focus her incremental effort on appealing to minority voters, especially Hispanics.

  5. JayCeezy says

    I feel very comfortable speaking for all White people. So let it be known that White people are notoriously thin-skinned, and cannot take a joke. Plus, you always have to watch ‘em!

    Serious questions for any Asians in the house. What do you want, other than “attention”, from Media, Institutes, and Politicians? What do you think that media, institutes, and politicians can do for you that you aren’t doing now, or that they are doing for other groups? What is it an Asian Jesse Jackson would say?

    Regarding Romney, there is an implied idea that he appeals to Whites, and that there is something he could have said or done to have more racial “Diversity.” I would offer this; his message is for people with certain values on a common culture, common language, and economic opportunity. This is who he appeals to, and in the U.S. those people are mostly White. 93% of Blacks voted for Obama, and it usually goes 90% of Blacks for Democrats. What is it that Democrats are saying that makes Blacks overwhelmingly vote for them? When Asians are 6% of the U.S. population, yet over 50% of the UC student body, why is that? The answer isn’t a mystery, or some crazy conspiracy; it happens one-by-one, student-by-student, each a different story but a similar outcome.

    I look at SF, and wonder how much real Diversity exists Politically? Economically? Socially? Age? Religously? How tolerant and accepting, really, is SF? FS, you have noted that Socialist nations in Europe with less economic inequality are happier. But they have no racial/cultural Diversity. The top 15 Education systems in the world have virtually no racial/cultural Diversity. The poorest nations in the world have virtually no Diversity, either. Asian immigrants (like any other immigrant) come to the U.S. and have an opportunity to succeed financially and socially like they would never have in the country of their heritage; it doesn’t work the other way around. What is the value of racial/cultural Diversity, when that value is not recognized universally?

    • Financial Samurai says

      I think every minority is looking for inspiration and someone to look up to. If you are a first generation immigrant, the odds are stacked against you b/c you don’t have a network of supporters. When you don’t see anybody who looks or talks like you in aspiring positions, it takes extra effort to believe you belong and can succeed.

      • JayCeezy says

        FS, did you have a role model? If so, did they look and talk like you? You are quite focused on Racial Diversity, but do you have any thoughts on the questions above and Diversity other than skin color? I am confused by the goal of Racial Diversity; is it to bring Americans together, or keep us separated by Race/Ethnicity?

  6. Shilpan says

    As an Indian immigrant, I can attest to most of your observations, Sam! Indians, in general, are more vertically focused. That means, we tend to focus more on our own family and friends when it comes to socio-economic issues rather than thinking more of a community.

    We are also peace loving and somewhat timid when it comes to demand favors(from government or anyone else) because we consider that as an act to sabotage self-respect.

    Having said that, I agree that American prosperity can see new highs if more Asians(especially successful) get engaged in politics.

    Knowledge is a powerful agent for prosperity. Higher education allows Asians to prosper, but we have to seek a higher ground of spreading what we know so that others can prosper.

    Asians remain ignored due partly because of their own fault: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care(for them).

    • Financial Samurai says

      Shilpan, tell me more about the focus on family in the India culture if you don’t mind. I’ve got a potential tenant who is Indian who mentioned his parents are coming to visit, and his mother is planning to stay for 1.5 months. When I asked him where would she stay in the condo, he said in the same room with him! Is this normal? I couldn’t stay in the same room with my either parent for more than a week. Thx.

      • Shilpan says

        Sam, I believe him. That’s the culture. If I have to guess, either him or his parents will sleep on the floor. In fact, if you visit India in summer, you will be surprised to see entire family sleeping on the flat roof top as it saves energy and weather is bit cooler during the night.

        You normally won’t have issue with the payment as he knows that his parents rely on him for a safe place to live.

        • Financial Samurai says

          Got it. What I have an issue with is my unit turning from 2 people on the lease to many more people on the lease who live for free and never leave. There’s a lot of liability issues as well. There’s a reason why hotels quote for single or double occupancy and charge accordingly.

  7. Shaun says

    Well what constitutes asian? Don’t countries like russia(mostly european), china, india, japan, south korea etc pretty strictly not identify as part of an asian race but as a member of their individual country?

    Kind of like in politics people mistakenly lump in hispanics in florida and arizona as the same even though they’re not.

    I have a theory about this. I went to college at Ithaca College and we bordered Cornell which had a lot of Asian students, not that I would really know since they were never out drinking at the bar and I would never see them. Being smart is great but the connections their classmates who are drinking buddies are making are probably way more beneficial than getting A’s.

    Anyways people pay attention to the extremes. Asians a lot of the time are taught very strictly in their culture as kids. Not a lot of creative thinking exercises more how well can you color in the lines. That type of behavior is good for worker bees but its not going to make waves or get you noticed in any real way. That combined with more focus on doing a good job rather than schmoozing isn’t going to move you to the top of the corporate depth chart either. Being smart and college educated can prevent you from ending up insanely poor so there’s not much to write about on that extreme either. You end up with a group that is pretty easy to forget that they’re there. Maybe this is bad to say but my #1 thought of asian kids in Ithaca is the amount of them at Cornell that were jumping of the gorges when they didn’t get A’s.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Shaun, why didn’t you go to Cornell instead of Ithaca College? Both are private schools no?

      Are there really that many suicides at Cornell? If so, are they all Asian? Yes, drinking with your buddies and socializing definitely has it’s benefits, but it’s better to get straight A’s AND go out drinking with your buddies and developing relationships.

      • Shaun says

        Statistically, no I suppose there’s not an absurd amount of suicides there. Like I said though people pay attention to extremes. Its much more noticeable to jump off a cliff than to quietly OD on something in your dorm room. It definitely has that reputation whether or not statistics back it up. The people jumping are definitely not all asian, I’m not even sure if the asian suicide rate is higher than non-asians but if the jumper ever is asian it reinforces the stereotype that has developed.

        I probably would’ve borderline not gotten into Cornell out of high school had I applied. Maybe this speaks to my personality but I would not change a thing looking back even though Cornell would’ve been a well better school for the major I ended up going with. Even had I gone to Cornell I don’t think I’d be much better off than I am now. I’ve worked with a handful of Cornell grads my age since college, they have a shinier piece of paper but they’re no better than I am at the job we do nor do I imagine they’re making any more money than I am at this point 7-8 years later. Maybe by definition if we’re working at the same place that means thats likely to be the case and I’m not comparing myself to the avg Cornell grad.

        • Financial Samurai says

          OK, so the Cornell example and Asians doesn’t seem to be a good example, and more sensationalism.

          If you are working with a Cornell grad at your organization in a similar position, then absolutely you guys are probably making about the same amount of money.

          The question further asks, if your high schooler got into both schools, which school would you have them go to?

      • The First Million is the Hardest says

        There are some significant differences between Cornell and IC. While both are private, Cornell is Ivy league and IC is not. Students at Cornell (regardless of race) tend to be more studious than students at your average school. I’d wager you’d find similar party habits between any Ivy league school and a neighboring school of your choice.

        Cornell does have a big problem with suicides though. There were such a rash of them 2 or 3 years ago that they scrambled to put up big fences/ suicide hotline numbers on all the bridges in and around campus.

  8. Travis says

    An Asian Jesse Jackson would be quite entertaining. Time to start working on your preacher voice, Sam!

    • Financial Samurai says

      What about Asians in Canadian racial polls where you’re from? Do you really believe all Asians are hard working, savers, and successful? If so, why do you think this is?

  9. Free Money Minute says

    Why use the average worth of families instead of the median. It seems like the median would be a better representation of the overall population. After all, there are a small percentage of extremely wealthy Americans, which may pull the average up by tens of thousands or even hundreds or thousands of dollars. $600k for white families seems high on average. Most people I know are nowhere near that number and I would consider myself solidly in the middle class. Just curious what your thoughts on that are. Love your articles!

    • Financial Samurai says

      The figure seems high to me as well. Maybe there’s more wealth than we know, or the average wealth perception needs to increase. Tis a question for the Urban Institute. Take a look at the full PDF here.

      • Jason S says

        I also don’t like these “use-the-mean-to-scare-people” studies. The report mentions that median wealth is something like $120k for whites versus $15k for blacks and hispanics. Materially different, but much less than the average. However, the report’s overall message is fair.

        • JT says

          If they had put Asian median or average net worth data on the chart, the gap would effectively be bridged – it wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful a message. IIRC, Asian Americans are the highest-earning group, and it won’t be long before asians are the racial group with the highest net worth.

          Using an average is still pretty goofy, as colloquial use of the word “average” implies that your “average (white) Joe” has a $600k+ net worth, which one could reasonably assume means this average Joe earns income in a very, very high tax bracket. That bodes well for the current political discourse.

          The average is backward looking. I’m guessing the United States was “whiter” 40-60 years ago, and thus older people (who naturally have more wealth) are disproportionately white. The message is certainly skewed by the use of an average vs. a median. Although, excluding Asians is the biggest screwup.

          • Financial Samurai says

            Great insights! By excluding Asians and hoping nobody notices, Urban Institute hopes to hammer home the point of a widening gap between Whites and non-Whites. More headlines, more concern, more funding, more propaganda. I’m glad we’re able to slice through some of the haze.

  10. Steve H says

    Don’t underestimate the role that our, perhaps, not yet Americanized mothers had in our under-regarded status. I was born in Tokyo Japan on an Air Force base. Dad was an American serviceman from the backwoods of Missouri. Mom was from the cold mountains of Korea. The cultural dilemma occurred when dad would take us all fishing and mom would eat all the bait on the way over (Joke). But seriously, we moved back to to the states where my father was stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV. When I turned eight years of age, my dad was deployed to Vietnam. Before he left, he bought me a guitar so that I could fashion myself into a Eurasian Elvis Presley. My dream. The dream never came true. My father returned a year later to find his son an accomplished accordion player-sporting a red metal-flaked accordion.

    My mom had ruined my life at that point, but this is what transplanted korean moms do if left on their own device. I don’t know how it happened. Well I do, actually. I got home from school one day and there, on the carpeted living room floor, Lay a huge latched box upholstered in black tolex. I was ordered by mom to open the box to find a rather beautiful, but unappreciated red accordion. I was sent to lessons regualarly and would be instructed by mom in her broken English, “You practice two hour every day!”. I was a dutiful son of an obviously crazy woman. I would practice while staring out the window at the other boys in my neighborhood playing street baseball. If I finished early enough, mom would allow me out to play, wearing short pants, a tank top, and cowboy boots. Yeah, that did a lot four Asian clout in American society. We’re doomed.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Hilarious and awesome comment! Good point about the not yet Americanized mothers and their ways on their Americanizing children.

      Are you saying your red accordion got you a lot of chicks?

  11. Jonathan says

    I am Chinese. I have lived in America for over 30 years. I grew up in LA but also lived in NYC and SF. One of the reasons why the TV media largely ignore Asians is because we don’t watch a lot of mainstream TV. One of the reasons why Blacks are over-represented in commercials, TV, media, etc. is because most watch a lot of TV. It is really that simple. By watching the commercials, it is hard to believe that Blacks only make up 12% of the population. You would think America is 25% Blacks based on the commercials.

    One of the reasons why Asians are not well represented in politics is because we believe in self-reliance and don’t think the government can do much for us. We want the government to protect our freedoms and to have fair social policies on governing the citizens. We are not looking for handouts from the government. We want to have the opportunity to pursue the American dream using our own skills and resources. We are not looking to the government for our success.

    Asians tend to be quiet, reserve and hard working. We don’t usually speak out. We don’t riot. We don’t believe in demanding the government to do anything for us accept leaving us alone to pursue the American dream. We believe in what JFK said, “”Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Very interesting theory about Asians not watching TV, hence why there aren’t a lot of Asian role models on TV. There definitely seems to be more than 12% of Blacks on TV, so you may have a very good point.

      Maybe folks should stop watching so much TV?

      Should the Asian community not try and seek handouts more in order to not have to study and work as hard? Is this not the American way now?

      • Jonathan says

        Most people would be better off if they watch very little TV.

        It is better to earn your money then to wait for entitlements and handouts. These programs are for people who cannot take care of themselves. If an American is able to work, he/she should earn their own money.

        I have worked since a teenager. No one gave me any free ride. I don’t expect the government to give me money or any freebies. Everything I make is through my own hard labor and resources.

  12. Bill says

    “If we can’t effectively create income equality by perfectly redistributing wealth”

    Don’t be so sure Sam, Obama still has over three years left to finish what he started.

  13. Byron says

    I am an Asian-American who attended UCLA and then law school. So, I realize and agree with many of the points you bring up in this post.

    I also taught Asian-American studies while attending law school, and one of the ideas we discuss in class is the “Model Minority Myth”. A model minority refers to some individual or group of people (usually ethnicity-based) who are perceived to achieve a higher degree of success than the average. I think this myth is another reason for the relative silence about Asians is because we are somehow thought to be a highly educated, “successful” minority in America. What this notion fails to account for is the diversity within the Asian-American community and the fragmented communities within the umbrella “Asian” race. For example, Filipino-Americans have some of the lowest high school graduation rates of any ethnicity in America. Thus, by grouping them into the “Asian” category, entire people groups are often lost in the shuffle and do not deserve the attention they so desperately need.

    Another way in which this idea perpetuates ignorance is that because Asian-Americans are thought to have “made it” in America, they are not a sexy topic of conversation for the media or politicians. Yea, some Asian kid might get a perfect score on their SATs or win the spelling bee every year, but that isn’t sexy news. The media especially is the ultimate platform for sensationalism, and very generally speaking, the Asian community doesn’t offer up much to talk about. We work hard, we value our children’s educations very highly, and we work hard some more. This is not rocket science, but it’s also not interesting. For example, it’s much more sexy to discuss the growing wealth gap between the top 1% of Americans (pretty much all white people), and the bottom half of the population (pretty much a lot of black and Hispanic people). Those in the middle often get ignored in this sense. Of course, I am generalizing a lot here, but I totally agree with you Sam, that as Asian-Americans infiltrate the mainstream as CEOs, politicians, actors, etc., we will have much more clout and therefore demand more attention as a group. I think this cultural shift is definitely happening in the Asian-American community, and you will begin to hear from more prominent voices as our influence at the top grows.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Never heard of the “Model Minority Myth” but something I’ve observed as well. South East Asians don’t fall into the stereotype of being super performers in school, yet they are bucketed together all the same. The Filipino community here in Daly City (south of SF) seem much closer to the Black community than the North Asian community in terms of sociology.

      Perhaps the real invisible minority is not the Asian Race, but the “Underachieving Asian”? What is an Asian person of average or below average intelligence and qualifications going to do if the stereotype is that all Asians are smart and highly qualified?

    • JayCeezy says

      Byron, congratulations on all your accomplishments. If you were a ‘prominent voice’, what is it you would say? What is it that everybody needs to hear from Asians? What would you use your influence to accomplish for Asians? What positive values do you think are separate and unique to Asians that would not be positive values for any individual or group?

  14. Mike Hunt says

    Asians in the USA have locked down the stereotype of being super achievers and go with the flow. I guess that stereotype works for them…

    Traveling around Asia shows the tendency to have overcrowding, overpopulation and a community based mindset. After traveling across Asia, I really enjoy how empty the continent of North America is! Sam, be careful what you wish for- you really don’t want Asia being replicated in North America!

    -Mike

    • Financial Samurai says

      It works until you aren’t a super achiever. Then you are pissed off.

      American can house 1 billion new Asians no problem! Come on now Mike. Folks in the US would love that migration :)

      • Mike Hunt says

        Sam- yes. The USA would be groaning at the seams and it would be the case of not being able to swing a cat without hitting a half dozen people sleeping outside.

        Of course houses will all be well over a million USD (supply and demand) so there is always a silver lining…

  15. retirebyforty says

    The term Asian just encompass too many people. Many people with Asian ancestry who have been here a while are doing pretty well, but many newcomers are still struggling. People from Laos, Vietnam, and Srilanka tend to get overlooked when people think about Asians.
    Not everyone is a super achievers.

    • Financial Samurai says

      I agree the term “Asian” is too encompassing. Perhaps the stereotype of super achievers is focused on the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. Thai folks don’t seem to be discussed as much, but that’s also b/c of a smaller population.

  16. The First Million is the Hardest says

    I think you mentioned the root cause in your post. I think that Asians, and probably Indians as well get largely ignored by the media in these economic studies is because the perception of these groups is that they are largely well off.

    True or not, I think the perception is that African-Americans and Hispanics are generally the ones that lag behind other ethnic groups in income and employment numbers whereas Asians, Indians, Caucasians etc.. are the ones leading the pack so to speak. So if you’re going to do a story about the wage gap between races it’s probably natural to take the majority group and contrast them against the groups you perceive are the ones being left behind.

    Not sure if that makes sense or not…it’s really hard to make a point on this without being overly stereotypical!

    • Financial Samurai says

      The question is why do Blacks and Hispanics lag, and what can we learn from Asians to see how we can improve their situation. Does this not seem like the logical conclusion to help society?

      If I was a researcher, I would be fascinated with how an Asian population of 5% can make up 50% of the population at UC Berkeley, one of the toughest schools to get into!

  17. rubin says

    racism is well and alive in america. before and during world war ii, the japs were the enemy.
    now it’s the chins who are the enemy. maybe hitler’s children are living in america after all.

  18. Adam says

    Hey Sam,

    Stumbled on your blog a few months ago and this will be my first time posting since this is a personal topic.

    My family immigrated here from Vietnam when I was 6 and we were dirt poor; had four families living under one roof during the first few months while we were getting on our feet. Parents firmly believed in the value of a good education and I’m grateful for that.

    Perhaps this is why I absolutely cannot stand the victim mentality that the “poor folks” give as excuses for not being successful. Growing up poor or growing up in a bad neighborhood does not close off opportunities for success. Of course there are exceptions but for the vast majority; they are just lazy.

    I’m firmly in the above average group according to your previous post and although I’m fiscally conservative; I’m also a strong social liberal. I would have voted for Romney (and other Asians too) if Republicans weren’t so bat sh*t crazy about pushing their religious agendas on the rest of the nation. That’s my two cents.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Adam,

      Thanks for your perspective and always good to have new readers on here. I have to imagine you must get very annoyed with the victim mentality which seems to be growing here in the US. Could it be there is a crowding out effect by Asian immigrants who appreciate their opportunity more in the US b/c they’ve experienced much worse? If all you’ve ever known was growing up in the US, it’s hard to appreciate how good we have it.

      Social freedoms will always trump economic freedoms in my book. I wish we could have both.

      • Adam says

        Your blog is great and I’ve told my friends to read your site; just to get perspective. I don’t agree with some of the things you write but it is refreshing to hear opposing viewpoints expressed in a thoughtful manner.

        The victim mentality and the seeming need for increased handouts in this country has made me very nervous about the future. I think welfare has it’s benefits but there needs to be something done to stop the abuse. Otherwise increased spending will bring us dangerously close to a Greece/Cyprus situation.

        Politically speaking, I think Republicans make great governors and majors but lousy Presidents.

  19. The College Investor says

    It’s really tough that Asians tend to be overlooked because they do not put too much noise, unlike other race, but I guess they want it that way. One of the reason for it was that Asians do not want too much attention on themselves and just want to be the silent work force they see themselves to be. After all, most of them come to the US to make the lives of their relatives back home better, not to seek attention.

  20. Squirrelers says

    Great questions. I think there is something to be said for achieving a critical mass in terms of population, until the masses truly take full notice. In the past, the Asian population was quite low from a percentage perspective. While the percentage figure might still seem low overall, the rate of growth has been great. Soon, it will be very hard to ignore.

    Smart and progressive businesses, people, and politicians should realize that the America of yesteryear is gone. Long gone. If they don’t realize it, they will soon. It’s a multi-cultural society (including Asians), and only getting moreso. There are many that get this, but I really think the masses are still clueless about the very rapidly changing face of the country. To acknowledge and embrace change is a good thing!

  21. Dan says

    Hi, I am white and grew up in a mostly white state, Wisconsin. My high school consisted of an Asian valedictorian who was born in China and English was his second language. The black and hispanic kids in my high school underachieved and weren’t very motivated. Some were, but overall many were not. However, I don’t know any white kid that would have said that any Asian was not very motivated as a student. There were only a few, but ALL of them were very academically inclined. Perception is reality and in the US, whites vary from highly motivated to white trash lazy government funded loafers. However, Asians even from poor backgrounds seem to do better due to their immigrant status and work hard strategy. This type of achievement is not celebrated in the mainstream media, and NBC news would like to ignore a successful minority as they view America as hating minorities through the oppression of a white majority.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dan. It’s weird why folks wouldn’t try to figure out what makes some of the successful Asian population so successful in school to help EVERYBODY out.

      The follow up question though is, what type of Asian was the valedictorian? If you are an immigrant who doesn’t speak the language well, the only real way is to try harder than everybody else.

  22. CL says

    I agree wih a bunch of other people that Asian groups mostly work hard and stay silent, although a handful enter politics, particularly in minority-majority states. The reverse racism of college admissions that penalizes Asians with high GPA/SAT credentials is ludicrous and I ended up at a low cost state university instead of the most expensive, “most selective” university I got admitted to.
    What I really worry about is the model minority stereotype. I dealt with it growing up, but it is negatively impacting my cousin’s 12 year old, because he gets bullied for being Asian. It’s stupid because his dad is apple-pie American, even though his mom, my cousin, is a Vietnamese immigrant. His dad is an electrical engineer while his mom is a software engineer, so it’s not really a surprise that he is quite good at math. Someone said to him, “You’re only good at math because you’re Asian. If you were American, you’d suck at math.” Another kid told him, “Make me a tomahawk or I’ll kill you.” There’s really stupid racism that he faces and he doesn’t even look distinctively Asian. His dad has Black Irish heritage, so he has very dark hair and blue eyes. My cousin has dark eyes and hair. Their son has brown hair and brown eyes.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Hi CL,

      Curious to know why you didn’t go to that most selective university if you got admitted? Was it a money thing? I’m a big proponent of the best state schools.

      Bummer about your cousin. You’re the second person who has mentioned the Model Minority issue. I feel bad for those who are not.

  23. JayCeezy says

    The Pew Research Center has a study showing that Asians have the highest household incomes of any race in the U.S http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/06/19/the-rise-of-asian-americans/

    In addition, Asians are the fastest growing population in the U.S over the last decade. They have the highest levels of education. Just imagine what Asians could accomplish if the The Media, Research Institutes, And Politicians didn’t ignore them!:-) Seriously, it looks like Asians are ignoring the Media, Research Intitutes and Politicians, and going about succeeding very well in the U.S.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Now THAT is the best article I’ve read about the state of Asians in America to date.

      But just imagine if Asians could get more government assistance. Maybe Asians wouldn’t have to try so hard for a better life?

      • JayCeezy says

        WHY is it the ‘best article’ you have read? Because Asians are doing better than everyone else?

        More government assistance? Like the Hmong? So Asians wouldn’t have to try so hard for a better life? Better than who? Try harder than who? Looks like as a Racial group they are doing better than any other Racial group. What is it that an “Asian voice” would achieve? 60% Asian students at UCLA? If more government assistance is the key to a better life, why is that not happening with Blacks and Latinos, especially the children of the first-generation?

        Gotta say, the talk of Racial “Diversity”, while ignoring the Religous, Age, Political, Income, Social, Educational Diversity is not only confusing, it is bumming me right out. Racial “Diversity” seems to be used as a weapon, to achieve a tribal goal. In something like student admissions, or employment, it is a ‘zero-sum’ situation and the Racial “Diversity” goals may give advantage to one group, but it is at the expense of someone from another.

        Does it seem like the goal of “Diversity” is achieved when Colin Powell’s millionaire son Michael, or Bill Cosby, or multi-millionaire former head of the FCC William Kennard get preferential treatment to purchase an FCC radio station license, to fill a quote for “Diversity”? I see it in my own industry of consulting; there are Minority/Disadvantaged/Women Business Enterprises (M/D/WBEs), that receive a percentage of the contracts; they are all millionaires, and the process just makes them richer. Doesn’t make the system fairer, or create more M/D/W engineers or consultants. It keeps us all separate. Doesn’t bring us together as Americans. I do know it is hard to be a minority in a majority culture, and even Whites experience isolation or minority status and be judged on their grades, credit score, and performance. That’s my two cents.

        • Financial Samurai says

          It’s the best article I’ve read specifically about Asians in America because I’ve hardly read anything about Asians in America and their demographics. It’s a very thorough article with some useful charts.

          Is Michael Powell a millionaire now? I wonder what he is up to as I think he’s in his late 40s now no? Perhaps one day, Asian examples will be able to eloquently roll off folks tongues as examples eg Jerry Yang from Yahoo’s son or something

          Don’t be bummed out about the invisible race!

        • JayCeezy says

          LOL~! The talk of “Racial” Diversity, with no acknowledgement that there are other kinds of Diversity is what is bumming me out. But I think you know that. It seems that “Racial” Diversity is a way for Whites to feel like they are “doing something” for underperforming race/ethnicities, and a point-of-comparison for other race/ethnicities that might feel ignored or invisible. “Comparison is the thief of joy!” – Theodore Roosevelt

          Michael Chang HAD to be a “role model” for you, no? Here is your platform, right here, right now! You are a pro blogger with a loyal audience…what is it we need to know about Asians? If Asians were visible, what do we need to see them do? A serious question, which I don’t expect you to answer…how will it improve your life when Asian examples roll off the tongue? Or anyone else’s life?

  24. Santosh says

    In order to accept more Asians, Immigrants must be accepted based on their skills but not family or lottery and only 16% of US immigrants come on employment visa and the rest on family visas, who heavily rely on govt or earn less than avg.

    Recently, Australia started Investors visa where investors has to invest 5 million money in federal or state bonds, managed funds, Australian companies, or in a combination of those assets and they expect almost 700 investors every year. Current US Investors visa is highly complicated with lot of red tape.

    Most of us know 40% of Fortune 500 firms were founded by immigrants or their children, but we have to recognize that these firms are mostly from Asians or Europe.

    if the same Status quo continues, I can visualize, that after 20-30 year, US will become a socialistic state like UK which will result in downfall/shrinking of economy.

    Media ignores Asians because, they don’t actively participate Sports and Politics ie (their vote share in elections is nominal.) Sports is the the only religion/race which connects all people together.

    Our current president is same as any regular politician who wants to win his presidency by hook or crook and all these new scandals show how White house gathered information and micro targeted each group to win White house.

  25. Liquid says

    Asians make up about 15% of Canada’s population, and they are fairly identified and represented in research papers and studies up here :D I think cities along the west coast of North America like Vancouver BC, or San Fransisco CA, have a disproportionally high Asian community simply because these are often the closest North American cities to Asia. In Vancouver for example, the airport (YVR) is the closest international airport in the country to Eastern Asia, so for frequent travelers who fly back and forth a lot it makes the most financial sense to start here. Naturally the municipality surrounding YVR (the city of Richmond) has an immigrant population of 60%, the highest in Canada. Asians alone represent more than half the population in Richmond, which statistically would make them the majority lol.

    I think Asians have a tendency to work hard in school and subsequently earn more money than the general US and Canadian population because of a cultural mindset that dates back for generations. For hundreds of years in some Asian countries the only way to get ahead was through text books and studying. Immigrant parents today in America who believe in those traditional values, desperately want to give their children a high standard of education. And good grades no matter who you are usually leads to a better career path. For those who have lived in a crowded Asian country like China or India, if they didn’t have a good work ethic their quality of life would be abysmal, often to the point of starvation because of the competitive nature of the social and cultural landscape. Since you’ve been to India before, Sam, I think you know how desperate things can be for people living near the bottom of the social economic latter there. The desire to study and work hard was already deeply engraved in their culture when they came to the US or Canada.

    Can we learn from successful Asians and teach those lessons to other races to try and benefit everyone in the US collectively? Yes, but it’s not going to be easy, and will probably take a long time, like many decades. In order to get the students who are currently performing poorly in school (regardless of race) to do better they have to be persuaded to change their personal values. They have to make academics a priority. I think the only effective way for this to work is for their parents to also hold the same values as many Asian parents already do, which is the belief that a high level of education is more important than sports, a rich social life, adequate sleep, and watching TV (as a previous commentator mentioned how Asians watch less TV.) The public education system can’t persuade students to value studying harder, otherwise race wouldn’t matter in academic results. Social and economic values work the best if they’re implemented inside the family, from parents to children, and preferably by example :D But for better or for worse many parents in America simply do not want to make those kind of sacrifices, and they don’t expect their children to do so either.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Liquid,

      Thanks for your thoughts and sorry to take so long to address them. It’s weird why more parents don’t push their kids harder then if they want to get ahead, if Asian immigrants are doing just that and getting ahead.

  26. Kay P. Orr says

    The new system, based on skills and family connections to U.S. residents, enabled significant immigration from every nation in Asia, which led to dramatic and ongoing changes in the Asian American population. As a result of these population changes, the formal and common understandings of what defines Asian American have expanded to include more of the peoples with ancestry from various parts of Asia. Because of their more recent immigration, new Asian immigrants also have had different educational, economic and other characteristics than early 20th century immigrants. They also tend to have different employment and settlement patterns in the United States.

  27. Grace says

    Due to being Asian, I fully support this article. lol

    Am willing to breed to help make American more yellow!

  28. Grace says

    @Untemplater

    Asians are also taught culturally to avoid conflict and be respectful.
    I think we have some internal pressures that keep us from demanding as much rights
    as others.

  29. Letha S. Hooper says

    The smaller Chinese community was initially descended from migrant workers who came to work in the gold mines around Johannesburg in the late nineteenth century. Some of those workers were repatriated. Those original descendants are vastly outnumbered by more recent Chinese immigrants , including immigrants from Taiwan , with which apartheid South Africa maintained diplomatic relations. Estimates vary, but the Chinese population is reckoned to have increased from 10,000 in the early 1980s to more than 100,000 in the early 2000s.

  30. David says

    The reason it will improve a real Asian’s situation when we are more recognized is because we won’t have to be deemed genocidal when we don’t like other Asian males or females for what they have said it done to us, and it will no longer be “racism.” Instead of constantly being referred to as “Bruce Lee” by less educated and cultured white and black ignoramuses, we can begin to build a solid identification with other truly successful and respectable Asian men and women. We won’t constantly be subject to having to think and speak about over represented black and especially white people that we truly have absolutely nothing in common with when we look at their lives and upbringing compared to ours. Grow some sense white people, and put yourself in a “minority’s” shoes! A “minority that is the majority of the ENTIRE world’s population. I think the real answer to the Asian American’s dilemma is not to have more of us in America but to leave here and go back to Asia. I would definitely be happier that way. White and Black America needs to grow a brain and consider who they’re denigrating and what they’re watching and looking up to in on television and movies. Once these racists realize that intelligence, creativity and hard work are more valuable than cunning, ruthlessness and lies, true Asians like myself will no longer feel stigmatized and shamed about the fact that stupid people are making all the news and headlines in this fallen empire of a country. Seriously, think before you talk, black, white and brown “Americans.”

  31. Ryan says

    This is a very interesting article. As an asian american, born in china and adopted at 6 months, i’ve grown up in a really caucasian based area in colorado. I always used to wander why i got made fun of for being asian all the time. After a while, i started realizing that no matter what you do, people are always going to be making fun of you. Throughout highschool i got alot of shit from people, which is funny because i also was “quite popular” (sorry not trying to brag) but it didn’t stop me from getting the asian jokes like, “oh you can’t see, its because your asian, why are you a bad driver? do you have a small dick?” I mean, it wasn’t bullying but i guess it was just highschool, its cool though because i still had a really amazing time in highschool!

    Since growing up, im now 19, i’ve been doing modeling for agencies and trying to kickstart a rapping career, but the discrimination still is very alive. Its hard for an asian in this country in the media. But sometimes, you just have to grow some tough skin and suck it up and not let what people say affect you and push on.

    Personally, i am not like typical asians because growing up in a white area has made me really white based. I don’t take crap from people anymore and thats what i think alot of asians need to start doing. if someone says something i don’t like, i speak up ready to fight if need be, white, black, mexican, doesn’t matter. Asian people need to start standing up for themselves and not let people kick them around. They need to be more confident in themselves, more outgoing, and less shy and reserved.

    At least thats what i’ve been doing, and not going to lie, its made a huge difference in my life. Being a confident, funny, kind person, but at the same time doesn’t take crap from people and doesn’t let them disrespect you not only makes people respect you, but it also makes you respect yourself. Do what you want to do, date who you want to date, say what you want to say, but its time to show people that asians aren’t just the nerdy, kung fu masters, bad with ladies, uncoordinated losers, that white, black, and mexican people think we are.

    Everyone is different and we are just like everyone else, normal. If being shy and reserved doesn’t get that message across, well then its time to be loud and assertive.

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