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Voice of America: Lumping Chinese Americans as ‘Asian’ is Problematic

Asian American Heritage FestivalThe U.S. public’s tendency to lump Chinese Americans with Asian Americans at large is problematic as it has made Americans ignorant of hardships faced by some Asian American communities, according to a report by Voice of America.

Although Chinese Americans are the largest ethnic minority group with Asian roots in the U.S., they are only 20 percent of all Asian Americans. According to the report by Voice of America, Americans’ image of Chinese Americans as a model minority belies a more inconvenient truth. Groups such as Hmong and Cambodian Americans suffer high rates of poverty, live in poor neighborhoods and lack access to adequate health care, but their plight gets little coverage in the media.

“Most whites and blacks think all Asian Americans go to (prestigious universities like) Stanford and Yale, are good in math, and own shops where they make lots of money,” said Charles Gallagher, a sociology professor at LaSalle University. “When it comes to Asian groups, the media conversation is about “model” minority success stories, but that does not give people a full understanding of the huge variety of experiences that Asian Americans have.”

One positive — and perhaps unintended — side effect of this lumping has been the development of programs for Asian American studies at universities.

“These programs have been at the forefront of spreading knowledge about Asian American history and culture,” said William Wei, a history professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. “They have been very important in recent decades, because they produced Asian American scholarship that eventually made its way into mainstream U.S. education.”

You can read the report in its entirety at Voice of America.

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