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?
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.
Finally, 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.
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.
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.
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Invest In Real Estate
Have you ever wondered why there are so many Asian landlords? It’s because Asians believe real wealth is owning real assets like real estate.
Over the years, I’ve seen many first-generation Asian immigrants get enormously wealthy through real estate. And once a real state investment portfolio is built, it can then be passed on to your children and grand children to help ensure financial security.
Stocks are fine, but stock yields are low and stocks are much more volatile. The -32% decline in March 2020 was the latest example. However, real estate held steady and appreciated in value then.
Given interest rates have come way down, the value of rental income has gone way up. The reason why is because it now takes a lot more capital to generate the same amount of risk-adjusted income. Yet, real estate prices have not reflected this reality yet, hence the opportunity.
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