As an Asian American with children, I’m often wondering why are Asians ignored by the media, research institutions, and politicians? Asians make up roughly 6% of the American population in 2021 and earn the highest income among all races.
Instead of ignoring Asians, the media, research institutes, and politicians should focus more on Asians. Asians, collectively, are one of the fastest growing races in America.
It is an inevitably Asians will have bigger purchasing power and hold more positions of power in society. Therefore, ignoring Asian Americans and our issues is a mistake.
Why Are Asians Ignored So Much?
According 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 2020, 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? See the post, Income By Race.
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 6% of the American population is Asian. If there’s only ~18 million people to sell to out of a country population of 330 million, no wonder why nobody really cares about Asians in America. Money talks!
I grew 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?
The quick reason why Asians are ignored by the media and others is because Asians only represent 6% of the American population. Few people have time to care about others when they have their own issues to deal with. At 6%, the media, which is dominated by whites will naturally focus on issues pertinent to their own race.
1) The media does not understand.
We tend to write about what we know and who we know. There is an underrepresentation of Asians in journalism, a profession voted as the worst occupation in America. If most journalists are white, 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? Mostly white journalists will reach out and interview white sources for their stories.
I see this all the time in the personal finance space where Financial Samurai is repeatedly passed over for a white journalist or white influencer for a white finance blogger with less credibility and experience. Podcasters in the personal finance space are mainly white and interview other white people as well. It’s just the way it is.
2) Politicians pander to their constituents.
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.
Check out the picture of Obama and Trump’s interns. Notice how there are few Asians. If the POTUS was Asian, you bet your bottom dollar there would be more Asians. Alas, with Joe Biden as president now, there is still very little Asian representation partly because he is white.
Let me share another example. In San Francisco, the mayor, London Breed, is a black woman. As a result she announced a third initiative to help support black business owners in 2021. Yet, the majority of small business owners are Asian, and she has yet to announce the first small business owner support initiative for Asians yet in 2021.
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. A lot of people are angry at the media and call it the fake news media due to so much suffering and bias.
4) Asians are less vocal.
It’s hard to think of any Asian Jesse Jacksons or Asian Martin Luther Kinds 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.
To stop being ignored, Asian Americans need to organize and get much more vocal. With rising hate crimes directed towards Asian Americans during the pandemic, more people are finally taking notice.
Asian Americans are using their platforms to voice their opposition against Asian hate in America.
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.”
In San Francisco, roughly 85% of the gun crimes committed and victims are conducted by Black and Latino men according to data cited by London Breed. Much of this has to do with lower income and wealth.
When Asians are diligently saving and investing as much as they can for their future, they are less prone to commit crimes.
Education Is The Key To Financial Freedom
The most interesting statistic is the level of educational attainment in the Asian community. According to the US Census Bureau, 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 25% of a Harvard class, despite Harvard’s tougher standards for Asians. Meanwhile Asians dominate the campuses of UC Berkeley and UCLA with around a 50% representation.
‘Given Asians only make up 6% 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 if you can’t legally buy your way in like many wealthy parents.
Unfortunately, with the removal of entrance exams for public magnet high schools like Lowell HS and TJ HS, Asians will have less opportunities to compete based on education.
As a result, it is more important than ever for Asian Americans to stand up for themselves and start small businesses where there are no gate keepers.
Finding A Greater Voice For Asians
In order to have a larger voice in America, a greater portion of the world’s 4.3 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 6% of American’s population it’s hard to gain 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. With my new instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That, I’m doing my part to provide my visible Asian representation in America.
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.
Related: Three White Tenants, One Asian Landlord: A Story About Opportunity
Ignoring Asians In America Will Eventually Stop
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. This is the “model minority” myth.
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.
I’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.
It is sad that Asian Americans are ignored by the media and by politicians. When America was so vociferous against the racial crimes against black people during the pandemic, it was so silent against the hate crimes against Asians.
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.
Related: How About Affirmative Action Based On Income Instead Of Race
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LOI BANH says
Hi, I live in the US for 37 years and I have seen how unfair the main stream media and politicians ( locals, states and fed) have totally ignore Asians and Asian Americans living in the USA. I am a consistent observer with things happened around me so it really bothers me quite a bit to see what I shouldn’t see. I think the main problem is the majority of Asians and Asian Americans don’t take part in the political activities where they live so their voices are most likely not heard of. We can learn a lot from assimilation history of African Americans and how they have progressed to the point this country had the first African American President in Obama even his foreign name sounds like someone from Middle East. If we, Asian Americans, just do half of what African Americans have been doing, we will be in good shape and all politicians and presidents will include us in any public conversations. We need to tell them that there are many Asian Americans who are in poverty or not doing well because most local bosses only hire Hispanics or Latinos even if they are not US citizens or here illegal. If you stop by the city halls, School District, Court Houses, or in any chain store like Home Depot, Lowes, Bestbuy… you can understand what I meant. This picture is really wrong but they can’t fix it because both parties need their future votes to survive as a party. So voting size or size is matter in this country regardless of legality. I hope if Indians and Chineses can migrate faster to the US so we can be properly represented. We need to double or triple our presence / participation in American socioeconomic fabric to see any improvement at all. In particular, myself, a dislocated engineer, has been struggling for years to acquire a job at my level even when I willingly to step down to the bottom of payscale ( at minimum wage jobs ) I still can’t find a job and ending up relying on my wife’s income to live by since my last full-time job in 2003. I really hope things will get better for Asian community as my children will soon proceed into their adulthood as Asian Americans born in this country.
I’ve been a reader for a few months now and stumbled onto this older post. It’s a shame that Asians are not represented like they should be but as alot of people mentioned it is probably because of the focus on “making it” in America that that is the case.
I’m sure within the next few years we’ll see much more Asian representation as there are many amazing Asian actors. Also, the recognition that kdramas are especially getting wouldn’t hurt the visibility of Asians.
What I have noticed though is that there’s been no distinction made between African immigrants and perhaps other 1st gen immigrants as compared to Black and Hispanic Americans as I’d assume the 1st gen immigrants would have a similar work ethic/motivation to the Asians.
However, we can’t forget that Blacks and Native Americans (who are also painfully invisible!) have suffered through so much discrimination and centuries of mistreatment and were used to build alot of the country before being discarded as trash. So rather than thinking it is a race issue, I’d hope people would think about the pain and suffering they went through and how they were renumerated much(if at all) for their hard work. Also, how the system has worked against them all this time, from stealing land to Jim Crowe to mass incarceration to the ‘war on drugs’ (conveniently called a mental health crisis in America for white people now *insert eye roll*).
Not to mention even after so called liberation, they are still potrayed as criminals and were pushed into the inner city(barely funded) and now due to gentrification are being pushed out of places they were forced into. There’s alot of shit that’s been done to certain groups that they’re sloppily trying to reverse using methods such as race quotas (there needs to be a better, more merit based solution) which I think are ridiculous when all everyone needs is a good role model and well funded schools.
Also, I feel like the model minority model was created to not only hurt Asians but other minorities aswell as if to say “We’re not racist, blacks and hispanics are just stupid and lazy” whilst also putting way more pressure on Asians. It’s still funny to me how they could go from saying that the Chinese and Japanese are savages and rapists(cartoons back in the days), to saying that they were extremely intelligent and hardworking the next year. People need to realise the strength of the media!
Slightly off topic here, but having lived all my life in Europe and studied in a top university (ivy league equivalent in the UK), there was quite abit of diversity in terms of lots of international students such as Asians, decent amount of Africans but it was still majority white people. I feel alot of the institutions in the UK tend to attract lots of rich minorities but I found it much harder to find native minority students.
Sorry for the long post, I also don’t like the fact that they lump everyone in Asia together when it’s clearly a huge continent but as a minority in a different country it’s good to stick together I guess.
American society and current social state glamorize and idolize sports and entertainment stars where many blacks excel, while Asians are top performers in and excel in non-sports and entertainment professions, where more brain and intelligence are required but with little glamour, such as in research, business and engineering, etc. In addition, Asians in general do not like to complain and are not vocal, we believe in achieving success through hard work and accomplishments. Our society rewards those who scream the loudest. Many Blacks have mastered the victimization and blame routines, while whites are afraid to speak up because they are afraid of being accused as being racists. Asians generally just bury their discomfort, stay silent and suffer through their ordeals. If one does a survey on % of TV commercials having Blacks in them vs. Asians, I am sure the Blacks exceed their proportionate population % by a mile while Asians are very under represented. Another example is TV show, Family Feud with Steve Harvey, the show always has one Black family team, while there is no such assurance for any other races; this is 50%. We should not tolerate and perpetuate such show that discriminates. I, being an Asian, refuse to watch it. In the Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, few Asians made the list, mostly foreign, few US domiciled. We need to stand up for our proportionate representation in all aspects of the society.
I am white and I can’t stand turning on my tv and constantly seeing african people. What is going on here? I would rather see ANY other race – – just not africans. African’s are violent, rude and seem to be looking for a handout in every situation I see them in. This phony africans tv persona is false and everyone knows it. Real life africans are nothing like they are portrayed in the media. Again, what’s going on here? This carpet bombing of africans in the media only makes the other races dislike them more then they already do.
You generalized people. All Africans aren’t violent. I am black and I am tired of turning on my tv and constantly seeing white people everywhere. They are rude, violent, and think everyone should bow to them. Everywhere they go is constant chaos and they are selfish. You see, it goes both ways.
I think the reason why politicians and media don’t care about Asians is because largely of number and most of all we are not vocal.
Asians tend to emphasize conformity. We like that because of our culture. While I am very disappointed that we are not heard in the media, I think largely it’s because we are not very vocal. So we play a part in that. If there are Asians who do try to have their voice heard and the media is not hearing that’s their fault. But if no Asians are not willingly to talk about it, that’s a problem. That is our fault.
How come Blacks and Hispanics can talk about social issues that affect their community? While for us Asians we have a problem with it? We need to be more open and comfortable talking about it. It’s not easy and I struggle with it but we need to if we want our voice to be heard.
I’m taking a day off from work and am reading your blog because you write very interesting articles. Asians are ignored in America by the media, research, and politicians because at the end of the day, it’s all about numbers. The media is after ratings, researchers are after grants and funding, and politicians are about votes. People from all the different Asian countries only comprise about 5% of the population, majority of them who are first or second generation only. Most non Asians are busy with their own lives to care one way or other about Asian issues unless there’s a grave injustice. Being ignored by the media and politicians just isn’t one of them.
If politicians, the media, and research folks thought they can get lots of votes, ratings, and money by focusing on Asian people, they would in a heartbeat. Asian people will continue to be “ignored” since there’s not enough procreation or mass migration to make much dent in the number. Majority of diversity in U.S. will be the increase of latino people.
Julie Tran says
I don’t care if asians aren’t on the news every night, we must be doing something right. What I do care about, however, is the fact that when an or attacked, bullied, or killed even, the media and sometimes police act like it wasn’t a hate crime even when there is proof that it happened simply because they are asian.
I am surprised you didn’t mention the lack of asians in the entertainment industry. Sure there are a few successful asians in the entertainment industry, but most are only given stereotypical parts that often reflect bad ‘traits’ of asians. People watch these movies and often associate the asian race with these stereotypes, remaining ignorant of the diversities of asian cultures.
As for asians being more quiet, maybe some have simply given up since they have been ignored for so long?
Financial Samurai says
Maybe. Here is a follow up post I wrote called: Why Asian Americans Save And Earn So Much. It does mention Asians in type-cast roles in the media.
Sammy Wang says
Chinese, Japanese Dirty Money Please.
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.
Marie obrien says
I am french but Vietnamese descent , I lived all of my life among French people and I was the only Asian one . I had no racism etc … and the only time that I experienced racism was in San Francisco … it was a shock !
Anyway ! I am the same way , I stand up for myself and ido not put up with attitude of others .
Asians need to realize that otherwise they will continue to be “silent minority “
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.”