Is the umbrella term ‘Asian American’ even accurate anymore?
California could become the 1st state to ban caste discrimination
“Asian Americans recorded the fastest population growth rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, study finds.”
While this statistic may seem optimistic, there’s more to the story. The growth of the Asian American population in the U.S. has occurred in tandem with increased reports of discrimination and violence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
As our community grows, we are getting louder, we are telling our authentic stories…and we are making news headlines.
Welcome to Crushing the Myth, a weekly newsletter that breaks down the latest AAPI news & newsmakers.
🏆 The Headlines
Is the umbrella term ‘Asian American’ even accurate anymore? — Though a common identity has helped build political power over decades, the term “Asian American” is burying subgroups. It’s time, advocates say, to rethink how its used.
In an era defined by pandemic, violence and growing inequality, the stark differences between Asian American communities have never been more clear. “Asian American” represents dozens of ethnic groups, nationalities, languages and religions; the community’s wealth gap is now the largest in the country. Community leaders agree: Aggregate data isn’t working in everyone’s favor anymore.
Though a common identity has helped build political coalition and power over time, the term “Asian American” is burying subgroups. It’s time, advocates say, to break the data down.
According to federal data, an Asian American has a median household income of $86,000 a year. They likely speak English and, if they’re an immigrant, their journey to the U.S. was probably the result of a skill-based visa. With a college education, they now work in a white-collar job.
It’s a picture that obscures deeper truths about the 18.5 million people who share the umbrella term. Over the last few years, that image has begun to fall away.
It coincides with the community asking itself central questions: What does “Asian American” even mean anymore? Do Indian Americans, who earn a $119,000 median household income, belong in the same statistical category as Burmese Americans, who earn $44,000? Does a first-generation Bangladeshi family have anything in common with a fifth-generation Japanese one?
California could become the 1st state to ban caste discrimination — In what could be a watershed moment in the caste equity movement, a state Senate bill aims to clarify discrimination laws to explicitly protect caste.
A bill introduced Wednesday in the California Senate could be a historic win in the fight against caste discrimination in the U.S. If it is signed into law, it would make the state the first to explicitly name caste as a protected category.
State Sen. Aisha Wahab, who represents Fremont, San Jose and other South Asian American hubs in Northern California, said she has been aware of casteism’s negative impact for much of her life. The caste system has dominated in South Asia for centuries, stratifying society into immovable social classes that affect work, marriage and daily life.
Although discrimination based on caste is now illegal in India, it’s still present in the lives of Dalits, those born at the bottom of the caste hierarchy. And as Indians have settled in other parts of the world, the caste system has followed them.
“The more diverse California becomes and the United States becomes, we need to protect more people in the way the American dream was originally supposed to,” Wahab said. “Our laws need to expand and cover more people and go deeper.”
With stories of pervasive caste discrimination coming out of places like Silicon Valley, Wahab said a bill like the new measure would ensure companies take accountability for how Dalit employees are treated. It would carve out a path to prevent issues like wage theft, social exclusion and harassment in the office, she said.
Asian Americans most likely to join employee diversity groups but don't feel supported, report says — “The pattern they see is regardless of whether they’re involved in these ERGs, they’re not seeing much in the way of progress,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data.
Research recently released by AAPI Data and polling firm Momentive revealed that despite their particularly high levels of participation in employee-led resource groups (ERGs) — twice the rate of workers overall — Asian Americans continue to feel left out of corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
The study, which examined diversity across American life, found that Asian Americans participate in employee-led groups at 16%, far exceeding the 8% of workers overall. While more than half were motivated to do so to connect with others, 44%, said they were driven by professional growth opportunities and 39% cited the opportunity to raise awareness and inclusivity within their organization.
Still, almost one-quarter of Asian American workers reported feeling excluded from discussions about diversity and inclusion at their workplace. These feelings of inadequate support are also seen in discussions of leadership roles, as roughly only one-quarter said they have seen themselves represented in leadership positions at the workplace, a lower proportion than any other race. A similar percentage of Asian Americans surveyed reported feeling supported to take on leadership opportunities.
While ERGs most often exist to foster a sense of belonging and connection in the workplace, they can also help build momentum toward leadership and offer mentorship opportunities. But this doesn’t always translate for Asian Americans, said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data.
👯♀️ Group project…
…ft ‘The Hangover’ for Asians — ‘Joy Ride’ promises misadventure and scandal and features Stephanie Hsu, Ashley Park, Sherry Cola and Sabrina Wu.
…ft an Oscar nominee and more of your favorites — Oscar nominee Dolly De Leon joins Simu Liu, Awkwafina, John Cena in ‘Grand Death Lotto.’
…ft Mandopop — Mirror, a Mandopop boy band featuring 12 members, who are wildly popular in the Chinese territory they call home, are trying to expand globally with their first English-language song.
🩺 Health check…
…ft East Asians & their lower alcohol tolerances — East Asians are more likely to develop stomach cancer because of a lower alcohol tolerance, new study says.
…ft Mindy Kaling — After a sea of vitriolic comments on Kaling’s weight flooded Twitter post-Oscars, experts caution that no one person should be expected to be the beacon of body positivity. Especially if they never asked to be.
📽️ What We’re Watching
✍️, Lea @ Crushing the Myth