October 9, 2015

Beyond the Model Minority Myth: Investing in AAPI community

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted from the Department of Housing and Urban Development blog.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are now the fastest growing racial group in the country, expected to more than double from 20 million to 47 million by 2060. With this tremendous growth comes the need to better understand and address issues of social equity and overall community well-being within this diverse community.

Population by race and Hispanic origin

As you may know, AAPIs face the model minority myth – the notion that virtually all are well-educated, affluent, and self-sufficient. In reality, the AAPI community is not a monolithic group and each group faces unique challenges. One out of three AAPIs does not speak English fluently. Certain subgroups have low levels of educational attainment and high levels of unemployment. For example, 40 percent of Hmong Americans do not complete high school, and Pacific Islanders have among the highest unemployment rates of all racial and ethnic groups. And we cannot ignore the fact that more than two million AAPIs, representing over two dozen subgroups, live in poverty.

Underinvestment in AAPI communities has remained persistent, with philanthropic investments staying at around 0.3% for the past quarter century and ongoing barriers to accessing government funding. By aligning investments, we can better work to improve the well-being of underserved AAPI communities.

It is clear that we must develop and implement more effective methods in assisting and investing in AAPI communities. Recent data disaggregation efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor have provided deeper insight into how poverty, unemployment, and housing affect AAPIs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development identified several areas for further disaggregation of AAPI data, including the American Housing Survey, which is conducted biennially and will now include the collection of Asian subgroup data in 2015 for the first time in its history. The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report will now break out “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” populations. In light of this progress, however, there is a significant opportunity to do more.

Today, we have the privilege of joining a historic event at the White House to better align investments to low-income AAPI communities. Hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in partnership with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), the Public-Private Partnership Summit on Issues Facing Low-Income AAPI Communities will convene philanthropic, community, and government leaders to take a deeper look at how public, private, and community partnerships can address AAPI needs.

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has prioritized public-private partnerships and social innovation, with the belief that both government and private resources are needed to create social change. This is evident in the fact that today’s Summit builds upon the first-ever National Philanthropic Briefing on AAPIs at the White House in 2012. As a result of the briefing, the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kresge Foundation together made a commitment of $1 million, the first-of-its-kind coordinated public and philanthropic investment in the AAPI community.

We have made great strides over the years in public and private commitments that are beginning to address the critical issues faced by low-income AAPI communities. Earlier last year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors,” which will raise the minimum wage for all workers on federal construction and service contracts beginning January 2016. This is an important step toward fulfilling the belief that all Americans, including AAPIs, who work full-time jobs should not live in poverty. And the third and final round of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Promise Zones competition recently opened, where federal, state, and local agencies will partner with leaders in vulnerable communities to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, and enhance public health, among other priorities. A current Promise Zone in Los Angeles, CA prioritizes communities in Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Pico Union, and Westlake, which have high AAPI populations. To read more about these commitments, the White House Initiative on AAPIs has released a fact sheet today.

We seek to continue our commitment to the AAPI community by recognizing both the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done. It is an exciting time for all of us, and we hope to renew our pledge to the AAPI community and produce innovative, cross-sector, and multidimensional solutions for effective change.

Nani Coloretti is Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Chris Lu is Deputy Secretary of Labor.

Post Show and Tell

Dr. Ken, ABC’s new sitcom starring Ken Jeong, premiered tonight on ABC. Dr. Ken is ABC’s fourth Asian American sitcom after the groundbreaking Mr. T and Tina, All-American Girl, Fresh Off The Boat. Dr. Ken is breaking ground of its own. Ken Jeong’s character is 2nd generation and Suzy Nakamura‘s character (Ken’s TV wife) is 3rd generation, making the kids the first kids beyond 2nd generation in an Asian American sitcom. Dr. Ken is also the first Asian American sitcom set in the 21st century.

Critics’ reviews before air are mixed at best. Arthur Chu wants Jeong to be let loose. I don’t disagree.

If you haven’t seen Dr. Ken, I suggest giving it a watch. The pilot episode starts slow but grows increasingly funny as the episode goes on. I, for one, am looking forward to next week’s episode.

If you saw Dr. Ken and were disappointed, keep watching. It gets better:

But wait there’s more!

Shortly after Dr. Ken’s premiere came the unveiling of a secret project — Post Show and Tell. Created by the beloved 8asians Editor-In Chief Jocelyn “Joz” Wong, Post Show and Tell is the official unofficial after show for Dr. Ken. Post Show and Tell will treat viewers to Dr. Ken behind the scenes exclusives and special appearances from Dr. Ken cast and crew. Post Show and Tell will also feature your questions! To ask a question, put your question in a comment on Post Show and Tell’s YouTube channel or tweet your questions to @PostShowAndTell.

The first Post Show and Tell features Ken Jeong, the star of Dr. Ken, and Krista Marie Yu, the brilliant young actress who plays Dr. Ken’s daughter:

Did you enjoy Dr. Ken? Did you enjoy Post Show and Tell? Let us know!

– Justin Gillenwater

NY Asm. Ron Kim chases, tackles alleged purse-snatcher

My friend and fellow Baruch alumni Assemblymember Ron Kim was recently quite the hero. Via the NYPost:

Kim and the do-gooder briefly lost sight of the crook, until a Main Street coffee-shop employee said the suspect ducked into a nearby commercial building.

“At that time I proceeded to call the police,” Kim said. “And while I’m on the phone with police, this person came running out and the other guy started yelling, ‘That’s him, that’s him!’ and that’s when I tackled him and put him on the floor.”

Kim said he was still on the phone with police as he brought the man down. The pol’s glasses broke during the scuffle, he said.

“It was pretty obvious he was suffering from mental illness,” he said. “I’m glad that there are people besides me who came to help.”

Way to put those college football skills to good use, Ron!


Sept. 17, DC, Rep. Mark Takai Event

The below is a AAA Fund-sponsored event. Please give it your consideration to either attend, donate, or volunteer. Rep. Mark Takai (HI-01) is an AAA Fund Honorary Board member and a strong supporter of our mission and is running to represent Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

Mark Takai for Congress

Asian American Action Fund
Bel Leong-Hong
Mieke Eoyang
Melissa Unemori Hampe &
Shekar Narasimhan
Host Committee in Formation

Cordially Invite You to A Reception to benefit
Rep. Mark Takai (HI)-01)
House Armed Services Committee
House Committee on Small Business

Thursday, September 17, 2015 6-8p
Democratic National Committee – Wasserman Room
430 S Capitol St SE, WAshington, DC 20003

Suggested Contribution Levels
PAC Host: $5000
PAC Sponsor: $2500
PAC Guest: $1000
Individual Host: $2000
Individual Sponsor: $1000
Individual Guest: $250

Please donate online and RSVP to Nick Beek at (202) 480-2978 or nick@eckertassoc.com

Please make checks payable to:
Mark Takai for Congress
PO Box 2267, Pearl City, HI 96782

Contributions to Mark Takai for Congress are not tax deductible. Federal law requires political committees to report the name, address, employer, and occupation of any individual who contributes more than $200.00 in a calendar year. Please supply this information with your contribution. Individuals may contribute up to $ 2,700 per election, and federal multi-candidate PACs may contribute up to $5,000 per election. Contributions from corporations, labor unions, national banks, government contractors and foreign nationals who are not admitted for permanent residence are prohibited. All contributions must be made from personal funds and may not be reimbursed by any other person.

Paid for by Mark Takai for Congress

Asian American Action Fund Endorses Rep. Mark Takai for Congress

AAAF logo

SEPTEMBER 12, 2015

Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the Asian American Action (AAA) Fund announced their endorsement of Rep. Mark Takai in his reelection bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He is distinguishing himself as a new member on the House Armed Services and Small Business Committees, as well as continuing to stand up for Filipino Veterans, Pacific Islanders, and various causes important to the Asian Pacific Islander American community.

Prior to coming to Congress, Rep. Takai served for almost 20 years in the Hawaii State Legislature, including as Chairman of several House Committees (Veterans, Military, and International Affairs; Higher Education; and Culture and the Arts), as well as House Vice Speaker. During his time in the state legislature, he has also served as a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 15 years.

“Congressman Takai is a true asset to the Hawaii Congressional Delegation and Congress as a whole, given the way he commits himself to the causes important to the people he represents and brings people with opposing viewpoints together to have productive discussions. He remains a good friend to the Asian Pacific American community‎,” said Deputy Executive Director Melissa Unemori Hampe.

“It is an honor be serving in Congress with the endorsement of the AAA Fund. We have much work ahead and I look forward to expanding opportunities for Asian American and to increasing the number of AAPIs serving in elected positions throughout the nation, including here in DC. Thank you for your endorsement. Mahalo.”

AAAF is co-hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Takai on Thursday, September 17th, at the Wasserman Room in the DNC building. We encourage our supporters to attend or to donate to Mark’s campaign.

Deli Ideology by Grace Jung

I react to Deli Ideology as inspired by our long-running partnership with Hyphen Magazine.

Deli Ideology, a Novel by Grace Jung

The basics:

by Grace Jung

In this debut novel from author Grace Jung, questions of race, identity, and history are constantly challenged and examined through the eyes of a 23-year-old Korean-American woman navigating the unpredictable landscapes of New York City and Seoul.

LJ has just returned from a year-long residency in Seoul with a manuscript of translated Korean short fiction that publishers have all turned down. To get by in the city, she juggles two jobs: a copyeditor 5 days a week, and on the weekends, a cashier at a deli in Midtown, where patrons challenge and objectify her based on her looks as an Asian woman. While dealing with pressures to make a decision between her career path and her goal as a writer in an economically depressed state, she makes mental escapes back to her past life in Seoul and the times she spent with Daniel. These memories offer up cues to her self-discovery as an artist, regardless of her background and what lies before her. By simply recognizing herself as a writer, she realizes that alone is a stable basis for her to continue forward; LJ doesn’t feel so oppressed by her future anymore; in fact, she feels liberated.

We at the AAAF have long covered the minority myth which is how the stereotype that Asians are hard-working immigrants who’ve great success owed to hard work in America isn’t widespread truth across our whole community. While we’re proud to have had many successes here, the stereotype disservices many in our community, causing additional hardship which is unnecessary & unhelpful. Also, the myth is largely the result of whites wanting to portray Asians in a way they find helpful to their cause which isn’t our telling our story, it’s whites hijacking it.

Deli Ideology also brings to my mind the problem of the taboo of mental health. Conservative political post-mass-shooting rhetoric is already ruining the cause of funding mental health properly but Asian-American taboo about mental health is a special hurt to the cause in our community. Books like Deli Ideology bring mental health struggles from pariah and shame to daily acceptable human stories.

Lastly, Deli Ideology is a good reminder that our cause of representing AAPIs in public better is also serviced by representing AAPIs together better. The community is large, varied, colorful, and deserving of our intelligent attention.

Fraud Hurts Us All

california birth tourism

Jeb Bush’s remarks addressed Asian immigration fraud. Political talking points removed his remarks’ context which was not to say he denigrated all Asian immigration but rather that anchor babies are often Asian immigration fraud.

Most Asian-Americans don’t know about Asian immigration fraud so I’ll educate you.

Wealthy mainland Chinese, often running Communist Central Party-friendly businesses and in their middle class (just $15-50k income required, much less than here), book baby hotels & conduct maternity tourism. They arrive, give birth in a private housing complex, are taught how to enroll for free Mediaid, get free education (no income need be drawn as those who can afford affording baby hotels already draw incomes bigger than ours in China), a near-free college education (UC, often) then return to China afterwards to start companies using their parents’ CCP connections.

The view from outside the political industry is such baby hotels, exclusively marketed to & booked by mainland Chinese, sully the spirit of American immigration as they’ve little intent of actually immigrating rather collecting our many socialist resources (free public education as they can afford all cash homes in the best school districts whereas most others can’t; then again they could never qualify for a mortgage here so they must go all cash; poor them!) & free healthcare (they’ve no incomes here thus qualify for Medicaid) & free taxation (their assets are all held in mainland with shom we’ve no tax records sharing; compare that with most nations with whom US has tax record sharing). They’re not the type of immigrant you’re thinking of. Google “california baby hotel” or “maternity tourism california” & you might be angry, too.

Hating immigration fraud doesn’t drive a wedge between pro-immigration groups. Unless immigrant groups want to help those such folks. I assure you that there’s no solidarity from such “immigrants”, they’re off as soon as they get what they came for. This sort of brutal benefits (ab)use is expected from people who see the US giving so much for the simple price of a birth.

Hating immigration fraud isn’t racism but rather anti-fraud. It’s not saying “let’s remove all Asian immigrants” but rather “stop mainlander’s immigration fraud.” Official political talking points allow no room for this view & only insta-outrage with blanket labelling which hurts all immigration policy.

Asian American Action Fund Condemns Jeb Bush’s Divisive Remarks on Anchor Babies

AAAF logo

AUGUST 25, 2015

Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

Jeb Bush’s remarks about Latino and Asian American children are offensive to all Americans and unbecoming of someone seeking the office of President.

First, Jeb Bush sought to devalue American newborns from one or several ethnic groups by using the term “anchor babies.” The term is widely acknowledged as being offensive, as it demeans minority babies by describing them as inferior to and different than “American” babies. Mr. Bush then backpedaled and stated he was mainly talking about the Asian American community.

AAA-Fund Executive Director Gautam Dutta stated: “Jeb Bush claims to have a deep understanding of the immigrant experience. However, his recent remarks reveal a disturbing willingness to scapegoat one group for the sake of winning votes.”

The AAA Fund denounces Mr. Bush’s comments, regardless of whom they were directed at.

Dutta added: “No one – not least babies – should be stigmatized by the color of their skin. We believe an attack against one group is an attack against every citizen of our great country.”