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OpEd: What happens when voices of Asian Am don’t count

By Lisa Yuan

In the past month, NBC News released two national polls showing demographic data of people in the U.S. who have been vaccinated and who believe abortion should be legal.  As an Asian American, I was disappointed – but not surprised – that Asians were completely excluded from both polls. The articles listed over 20 groups supposedly representing the fabric of this country, yet failed to include Asians, even though they make up about 7% of the U.S. population.

The exclusion of Asians from national polls or scientific research is nothing new. Over the decades, I’ve seen countless news stories about minority groups in which Asians were completely missing from the data. Typically, the categories include Whites, Blacks, and Latinos/Hispanics. Take two recent examples from major news outlets (NPR and CBS News); both reported on poll results by race, but made no mention of Asians.

Growing up, I often felt dismissed and confused, wondering why my own group never seemed to be represented in the national dialogue. Were Asian Americans not considered a minority group, or perhaps just not a relevant one? But I knew we were far from considered “White” either… which led to the logical conclusion that we simply don’t belong. As hurtful as these exclusions feel personally, on a broader scale, they only perpetuate the stereotype of Asian Americans as foreigners and add fuel to anti-Asian sentiment.

As a U.S. citizen born in this country, and an Asian American, I am tired of feeling invisible and irrelevant. As hate crimes against Asians continue to surge (yet are largely ignored by media), and as the nation grapples with issues of diversity and inclusion, I’m also tired of remaining silent. Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country and an integral part of this country’s rich and diverse tapestry.  It’s time to start including us in the conversation. 

(About the Author:Lisa Yuan was born in New Jersey, grew up in Southern California, and has worked in public affairs in the Washington, D.C. area for the past four years. Her parents immigrated to America from mainland China in the 1940s.)

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