Tag Archives: Chinese

Tacit Asian American Quotas at Tufts and Other Colleges Revealed

Tufts University, Anti Asian American discrimination, Affirmative Action
A reader who teaches at Tufts University sent me this chain of emails that demonstrate the tacit exclusion of Asian Americans at their college. What do you think? Does this kind of subtle exclusion happen around you?
p.s. For more posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian American When Applying to College, please go here.
I just want to bring your attention to this event and am deeply disturbed by the fact that in their brochure for this event, the organizer mentioned this forum is (particularly for African-American, Hispanic/Latino and American/Indian/Alaska Native individuals), and not Asian Americans.  I remembered there is CABA and I think someone from that group should attend the event and alert the organizer regarding the situation – I just can’t believe they omit Asian Americans!!
The Event:
New England Science Symposium on Sunday 4/1 at the Josph B. Martin Conference/Harvard Medical School on 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
And the point of view from a professor at Tufts:
To share 2 cents of mine with you: Asian students consist of 12% of Tufts University population where I have been teaching since 1987 even though we have only 4.43% of population in the US and 5.3% in Massachusetts. So it is not surprising that Asian is not counted as minority in terms of academic activities. That does not mean we should give up. The Asian percentage dropped from 16% several years ago to about 12% now. We were concerned but can do little.

“A visit to the University of California’s most selective campuses shows how very well Asian-American kids do academically: While Asian Americans constituted 14 percent of the state population in 2008, this fall they made up about 40 percent of the freshman class at UCLA and 37 percent of the entering class at University of California, Berkeley.

But it’s not just in California, and it’s not just in college. The 2000 Census found that 44 percent of Asian Americans had a bachelor’s degree, compared with 26 percent of the white population. Their outsize presence in higher education — critics charge some universities with enforcing tacit Asian-American quotas — has made their success legend.

In the latest report of scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, standardized tests administered to U.S. elementary and secondary students, finds Asian-American students have overtaken white students’ scores in reading at the high school senior level. Asian Americans had already topped white scores at the fourth-grade level in 2007 and the eighth-grade level in 2009.

Of course, there are many ethnic subgroups of Asian Americans. So a word of statistical caution: Research on parenting practices has mostly focused on East Asians — Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. University of California and U.S. Census statistics, on the other hand, include many other smaller subgroups, such as Filipinos, South and Southeast Asians, Indonesians and Pacific Islanders.” By Kathy Seal

And the response back:


Hi Chien-Chi,

Thanks for forwarding us this info.  We should definitely contact the organizers and find out what their thinking is.  I won’t be surprised if they say that Asian Americans are not under-represented in this profession/area, hence justifying their particular solicitation of the rest of the minority groups.  It’s an opportunity for us to think about whether that’s still okay.  It’s a good time to have our own thoughts cleared and voice them – I’m referencing the public attention brought out from a few incidences related to Jeremy Lin.  It’s about time.




Best Asian Dolls for Asian American and Pacific Islander Little Girls

best asian doll for adopted asian chinese korean baby toddler jadeluckclub jade luck club asian doll familyI know I am too late for the December holidays … oops, that month was a blur! My girls were never that into dolls though we had our share of the American girls including the Asian American San Franciscan Julie. Still, it’s nice to know that there are a range of great Asian and Eurasian dolls at price points much below that of the American Girl Dolls. I’ve researched the best Asian dolls for children including doll families for doll houses.

In browsing all the doll choices at Amazon labeled Asian, I was struck by the multitude of Asian baby dolls for children. These did not exist when I was little. I wonder if this market niche will continue to grow as the Asian market overseas has more purchasing power? I was also surprised by the specificity of the dolls: Asian baby dolls with Down’s Syndrome (?!) and also Tipi from Laos. Interesting, huh? What do you think of all these choices? And, do your kids have a favorite Asian baby doll? Please share!


 To examine more closely or purchase, please click on ANY image of doll.


$42 (Asian doll with Down’s Syndrome)

$14 for the Asian Family, great for doll houses


$17 for entire extended family

$22 for a plastic Marvel family





$36 but she also teaches you to dress yourself

$25 Tipi is from Laos, interesting…

 $43 Barbie goes Geisha

$30 Barbie also goes to China

To examine more closely at Amazon or to purchase, please click on image of doll.



The True Picture: Asian Americans Who Need Help But Don’t Get It!

Hmong girls Asian Americans at poverty line JadeLuckClubTiger Mom Amy Chua’s daugher, Tiger Sophia bragged on her blog that she checked “Asian” on her Harvard application because she knew that the standard was higher:

Q: There was a recent article that said Asians are less likely to check the “Asian” box when applying for colleges due to fear of discrimination. Some half-Asian/half-white applicants only indicate their white ethnicity. What are your thoughts on that, and how did you answer that question when applying to colleges?

A: I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. Would you feel good about yourself knowing you lied to get in on lowered standards?

Well, I have two things to say about that:

1) Tiger Sophia, you may have checked Asian which does have a “tax,” however you also got big bonus points for being a legacy many times over. The upshot is that you had help getting in unlike these Asian Americans below who live at the poverty line and don’t have Ivy League parents with deep pockets.

2) By checking Asian when, actually, you are of mixed race, you have taken a spot away from those who don’t have the benefit of applying to a less competitive race slot. Thanks to you, someone who life could be completely changed did not get a spot.

I am not berating you Tiger Sophia; you are a cub, after all. But I wanted to highlight the complexity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander conundrum when it comes to high stakes college admissions. And, as it is diligently spelled out and heavily researched, “Disaggregated data by AANHPI subgroups are urgently needed.” In normal English, this means 2nd/3rd/4th generation Asian American from wealthy suburbs who are mostly of Japanese/Chinese/Korean/Southeast Asian heritage should not be in the same category as those Asians (Hmongs/Cambodians/Vietnamese/Laotians) who live in poverty. These two groups should not be competing for the same resources, namely jobs and spots at highly competitive colleges. Yes, this is obvious but it’s exactly what is happening RIGHT NOW!

Read on more more details. And please chime in!


Summary of “The State of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Education in California” Report

California has the largest and most diverse Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) population in the nation. This report on the state of AANHPI education in California highlights the achievements and challenges in public K-12 and public postsecondary education (especially the limitations in available education data on AANHPI subgroups), and provides recommendations for policymakers and community advocates


1. Particular AANHPI* subgroups have disproportionately high rates of dropping out of high school and do not have high school diplomas.

  • Hmong have the largest proportion (45%) in the state (25 yrs and older) with less than a high school diploma among all racial/ethnic groups.
  • About 40% of Cambodians and Laotians (25 yrs and older) have less than a high school diploma, which is double the state rate.
  • Pacific Islander students in grades 9-12 have high dropout rates, with about one-fifth estimated to drop out over a four-year period.

2. Poverty and/or limited English proficiency heighten the risk for dropping out of high school and college/university. Most Asian American subgroups are limited English proficient, and specific AANHPI subgroups have very high poverty rates

  • Over 40% of Vietnamese, Koreans, Hmong, Cambodians, Taiwanese, Chinese, and Laotians report limited English proficiency, which is double the state rate.
  • A quarter of Hmong and Cambodians live in poverty, about double the state rate, and about one fifth of Tongans live in poverty, more than one and a half times the state rate.

3. The proportion of AANHPI professional educators is less, and in some cases, far less than the proportion of AANHPI enrolled students in the public K-12 system and postsecondary institutions.

  • Asians, Filipinos, and Pacific Islanders are 5%-7% of all K-12 personnel in the state, but Asians, Filipinos, and Pacific Islanders are 12% of K-12 student enrollment.

4. Financial aid is vital but not sufficient for student retention and success for AANHPI college students. Data on financial aid were not available by AANHPI subgroup or for the California State Universities, making comparisons difficult if not impossible.

  • At the University of California, Asian students are the largest group among all racial/ethnic groups with parent income less than $45,000, but though they receive similar dollar amounts in grants as other students, smaller proportions of Asian students receive scholarships compared to other racial/ethnic groups.

1. Disaggregated data by AANHPI subgroups are urgently needed.
2. More data and analysis are needed to determine the obstacles to retention, success, and graduation for AANHPI subgroups.
3. Pipeline programs to higher education need to target AANHPIs.

* Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI)


The Creation — and Consequences — of the Model Minority Myth

Hmong Americans JadeLuckClub Model Minority Myth and Consequences


The model-minority myth tries to tell people: there are no structural barriers; it’s all in your mind.

This is from ColorLines and is an important in depth look at the myth of the Asian American Model Minority. We are not all the same and lumping us into one group obscures the Asian American groups who need and deserve recognition and assistance as minorities via Affirmative Action. I found this through my LinkedIn group, Asian American Leadership, thanks to a member who shared it.


Asian-Americans face significant challenges to getting their education, says a new report out from the National Commission on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Research in Education. And the study has got everyone from experts to students talking, because the findings fly in the face of conventional wisdom about Asian American students as high-achieving, so-called model minorities.

The picture of Asian Americans is distorted by the broad lens too much research uses. While Asian Americans as a group record high levels of educational attainment that match and occasionally surpass that of whites, large sectors actually deal with high dropout rates from high school and college. The study also underscores the complicated reality of the Asian-American community. Asian Americans are not a monolithic group and the experiences of Hmong, Laotian and Cambodian Asian Americans differs greatly from that of, say, East and South Asians growing up in the U.S.

Here’s some of the hard math:

  • Nearly 70 percent of Indians in the U.S. over 25-years-old have a bachelor’s degree, according to the study, and over 50 percent of Chinese, Pakistani and Korean-Americans over 25 also have college degrees.
  • But fewer than one in 10 Samoan-Americans can say the same. Cambodian, Hmong and Laotian Americans also record college degree attainment levels that hover around 12 and 13 percent.
  • All this is crucial because educational attainment translates directly to unemployment levels. Between 2006 and 2008, 15.7 percent of Tongans were out of work, according to CARE, a level that is close to the unemployment levels of black Americans, while just 3.5 percent of Japanese-Americans were unemployed in the same time period.

But in the age of the Tiger Mom, who’s emerged as 2011’s spokesperson for the model minority myth, much of this information about Asian-Americans gets lost in the shuffle. The study calls for the disaggregation of data collection on Asian Americans and education issues and reiterates over and over the dangers of buying into the model-minority myth, which suggests that Asian Americans owe their relative wealth and high educational attainment to cultural values and hard work.

To get some perspective on the persistence of this myth of Asian American exceptionalism, I spoke with Oiyan Poon, a research associate at the University of Massachusetts’s Institute for Asian-American Studies and former academic adviser at George Mason University and the University of California, Davis. Here’s what Poon had to say about the myth’s enduring legacy, and how it impacts other students of color.


On the ways the model minority myth plays out in real life:

People are not being blatantly racist, but as an academic advisor I’ve seen educators say, “Well, my class is half Asian, they must be doing something right.” That hyper-visibility may lead to an interesting invisibility. At UC Davis, we asked the institutional research office to go through their data set and one year everyone was shocked because Korean men in the early 2000s had one of the highest push-out rates. But no one would have known.

The lack of good data—and the pervasiveness of stereotypes and not looking deeper at a very complicated population and understanding those complexities—leads to things like this. There’s a lack of high school outreach programs and community partnerships and things that completely overlook the Asian-American community even though students may be low-income and there is serious need there.

On when the model-minority myth ends up excluding Asian-American students:

There are actually minority scholarships that exclude Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, like the Gates Millennium scholarship. It’s a national scholarship geared toward low-income, first-generation college students that was only open to African American, American Indian and Latinos students. Advocacy organizations fought them on it and were able to get them to realize they should be open to Asian Americans because, in fact, around a third of Asian-American students are the first in their families to go to college. And for Hmong, Laotian and Cambodians, just [over 10 percent] of the population over 25 has college degrees, and that’s among the lowest of any population.

On the actual barriers Asian-American students face in college:

When I was working at UC Davis, there was summer orientation, and all these college campuses have a family track. What struck me was that at the student portion of the orientation, there were huge numbers of Asian students, but at the family or parent track, it was almost always all white. There’s a disconnect in parental support and a lot of students don’t get any help in putting together financial aid papers or figuring out how to navigate which classes they should take.

I met a lot of Asian-American students who faced sexual or racial discrimination and harassment on campus and they didn’t know where to turn for help. For many students who are the first in their family to go to college, they often don’t know there’s a counseling center that’s there for emotional support, or other campus resources.

Why Asian-Americans just can’t be seen as a monolithic group:

There are huge disparities within this population that make this title, “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” sort of arbitrary. It’s a geographic identifier; it’s not a socioeconomic status identifier, though in some ways it can be.

The experiences that each group has—the migration histories; the culture; the language; the circumstances of arrival, from being refugees to being highly educated professional immigrants; and now you have a second and third generation that’s facing different issues—mean everyone has very different challenges. In a way you could say this about a lot of different populations and perhaps this is just a challenge of data systems in general. For Latinos, you’ve got Cubans, who tend to be more highly educated, and Puerto Ricans who don’t have the immigration issues that Mexicans or Central Americans have.

But for Asian-Americans, we end up having this conversation [about the need to disaggregate data] much more because the differences are so much more pronounced. And when there isn’t information, then there are just assumptions that people have to go on, and then the Tiger Moms of the world can keep going on and on as long as they want.

On the dangerous political utility of the model-minority myth:

People have to think about why this model-minority position came to be in the first place. It was to silence other people of colors’ attempts at demanding equity. Everyone who cares about racial equity should care about countering the model-minority myth because the whole purpose of it is to undermine claims of racism. People will say, “Oh, you’re going to riot and say there are inequalities and that blacks and Latinos face racism? Stop complaining, look at this non-white population over here. They’re doing fine.”

The model-minority myth tries to tell people: there are no structural barriers; it’s all in your mind.

It’s true that some Asian Americans are doing well. Sure. It’s true. But does that mean that we ignore the people who aren’t doing well? What’s my responsibility, and what’s our responsibility as people who are concerned about equity, knowing that there are specific groups facing distinct patterns of inequality? Do we say to that Hmong kid who kind of looks like me because we both have black hair, it’s okay, her struggles are not an urgent issue?


Top 10: Best Chinese American Children’s Books (ages 2-14)

best top 10 chinese american children's book literature jadeluckclub jade luck club kids china summer reading for early childhood education preschool kindergarten The Chinese immigrant experience is one with a long history in America resulting in becoming the largest Asian population in America today.  There is a great one-page overview on Chinese immigration that details this history.  Interestingly, this article says that the earliest Chinese immigrants during the 1700’s were well received and became wealthy but attitudes changes negatively during the mid-1800’s when less skilled Chinese “Coolies” came during the gold rush.

As I think about the Chinese immigrant experience — my father immigrated from China to pursue a Ph.d program at U.C.L.A. a few years before the Communist Revolution — my own experience is probably similar to most second generation immigrants in the quest to balance American culture while honoring an Asian past.  Of course, my background is dissimilar to most Chinese immigrant stories as my mother is of Japanese descent and 2nd generation at that.  And did I mention that I married a Korean?

And so each of us carries an immigrant story that is unique.  I chose these books because there was something special about each of them that helps me to connect to my Chinese roots and I hope that you enjoy them to, even if your ancestry isn’t Asian.

For my own children, a “mixed-plate” to quote a Hawaiian term,  they are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Asian.  And at 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 Japanese and 1/2 Korean, they are an unusual mix in that these three countries have traditionally hated each other for centuries.  And so in reading these stories, they may or may not relate to any of these stories, but I hope that it will help them to honor and take pride in their ancestry even if it’s as varied as a patchwork quilt.

Honorable Mention

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Shang [chapter book, ages 9-12]

If there is one chapter book that I would single out as THE seminal Asian American coming of age story, it would be The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. What is unique about this story compared to all others is that the Chinese American family is an assimilated 3rd generation family without the usual Asian stereotyping. It’s not about characters that are super smart geniuses or that play the violin/piano like a child prodigy … these are characters that Asian kids living in suburban communities across the United States can actually relate to. Fitting in while retaining your Asian culture. Living up to high family expectations and standards. Being your own person versus who your parents want  you to be. Good stuff! And it’s so well written that I think it will be up for many, many children’s lit awards. Wendy Shang is the Amy Tan of children’s literature. Try her for yourself!

Historical Tales (A Story of Ancient China) series by Jessica Gunderson

I found these great beginning chapter books at the library.  They are a very interesting and accurate historical fiction series that brings Ancient China to life.  Great if you are also combining any museums of, say, Terracotta Warriors.  The Terracotta Girl would be a perfect fit!  The Jade Dragon is a more general story combining ancient sports (horned helmet wrestling jiao di, rowing and archery) with dragon symbolism.

Fa Mulan by Robert D. San Souci
I always find it interesting to read the picture book a movie is based on.  San Souci retells this legend that comes from a ballad composed around 420-589 A.D.   about the battles found between the Chinese and Tatars (what is now Mongolia and Manchuria).  This retelling shows that the Disney movie is faithful to the ballad with one big exception, Mulan did have permission from her parents to join the army.  Filial piety is pretty important in Asian culture!  [picture book, ages 6-10)

Nim and the War Effort by Milly Lee

Nim wants to win the paper drive but her grandfather won’t let her miss Chinese school.  She has to venture out of Chinatown in order to prove to a Caucasian kid that she’s an American.  [picture book, ages 7-12]

Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

Thank you to reader Kristen Marie for this suggestion!

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author’s grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby’s Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who strives for more and a family who rewards her hard work and courage. [picture book, ages 4-8]


10. The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong

I chose this picture book as much for gorgeous traditional Chinese paintings as for the story which is about the life of painter Han Gan, who lived in China 1,200 ears ago.  The myth is that he is a such a great painter of horses that one of his paintings comes to life.   [picture book, ages 5-8]

9. Beautiful Warrior:  The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully

This is a Great Books for Girls by Kathleen Odean selection about a nun who is a master of Kung Fu and helps a village girl avoid a unwanted marriage.  A great book about girl empowerment through the martial art of Kung Fu.  Think The Karate Kid for girls!  [picture book, ages 5-9]

8. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

This is the story of Shirley Temple Wong as she immigrates to America at age 8 and discovers that American is the land of opportunity by learning about baseball, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the great Jackie Robinson.  [chapter book, ages 8-12]

7. Coolies by Yin

When one thinks of Chinese immigrants, the image of “Coolies” comes to mind and this period marks the period of when new Chinese immigrants were viewed negatively.  The Coolie story is an important story about the Chinese immigrants during the 1800’s and underscores why “Coolies” were an important part of building the great railroads across the Western United States. [picture book, ages 5-8]

6. The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

It’s the Year of the Dog, and Pacy learns that this is the year to “find herself” which means trying to find her special talents and how she fits in with family, friends and classmates.  There is a little bonus gift in that Pacy enters a book writing contest and that book is The Ugly Vegetables!  Grace Lin is the “Amy Tan” of children’s literature and this is a gentle story for anyone who struggles with finding themselves.  In real life, Grace Lin said that she actually won the science fair and you can check her website to find out more about what really happened in real life versus Year of the Dog.    [chapter book, ages 8-12]

5. Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee

Millicent Min is an 11-year-old girl genius with no social skills or friends except for her Grandmother Maddie.  While Millicent can rationalize her solitude, her parents and grandmother co-conspire to socialize her.  They force her to play volleyball and to tutor an annoying Chinese American kid, Stanford Wong, who is the polar opposite of her.  Things look up for Millicent when she makes her first friend, Emily, at volleyball.  But things come to a head when Emily finds out that Millicent and Stanford are lying to her as they both try to hide their tutoring arrangement from her.  And to make matters worse, Maddie decides to move to England.  Millicent is a genius, but can she figure out how to repair her friendship?  [chapter book, ages 9-14)

4. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

One of my favorite picture books about a little Chinese girl who objects to the “ugly vegetables” her family grows compared to her non-Asian neighbors who grow beautiful flowers.  But when her mother makes a delicious soup from the Chinese vegetables, all the neighbors want to trade flowers for soup. What I like about this story is that “fitting in” is something internal that the little girl feels; not as  result of overt prejudice.  And in the end, her differences enrich the entire neighborhood. [picture book, ages 4-7]

3. Apple Pie on 4th of July by Janet S. Wong

When her parents cook Chinese food to sell at their store on the 4th of July, the little 2nd generation Chinese American girl thinks that her parents “don’t get it.”  No one wants Chinese food on the 4th of July, right?  A simple story that depicts perfectly the straddling of two worlds that 2nd generation children feel.  [picture book, ages 2-6]

2. Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

Jon Muth manages to take Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu anddistill it into three stories that both children and adults can relate to.  A wonderful book for everyone’s bookshelf.   The artwork is gorgeous too! [picture book, ages 4 – adult]

1. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

My oldest has always loved Asian folk tales.  In this NewberyAward winning book, Grace Lin’s finest work to date weaves Chinese Folk tales into a story that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  With Asian themes of filial respect and sacrifice, she writes a novel that is the “Asian Percy Jackson.”   [chapter book, ages 8-12]


To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.