How did Asian Americans manage to become richer than an average American?

How did Asian Americans manage to become richer than an average American?

By "richer" I mean higher median income.

Large-scale immigration of Asians to the United States began in the 19th century. In the beginning, most of them were poorer than an average American. Nevertheless, in the subsequent century, the income of Asian Americans was gradually increasing. Nowadays, they have higher median income than an average American.

Personal and Household income in the United States in 2005:

How did they achieve this even though they originally came from countries much poorer than the United States?

There is no good answer to this question as posed, because many Asian-American ethnicities are poorer than the U.S. general public. In fact, Asian Americans' high incomes are largely due to Indian Americans, which is not necessarily the group most Americans think of when they hear the term "Asian American."

Let's look at a 2012 Pew study of "The Rise of Asian Americans:"

The Pew Research Center survey was designed to contain a nationally representative sample of each of the six largest Asian-American groups by country of origin-Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans and Japanese Americans. Together these groups comprise at least 83% of the total Asian population in the U.S.

The basic demographics of these groups are different on many measures. For example, Indian Americans lead all other groups by a significant margin in their levels of income and education. Seven-in-ten Indian-American adults ages 25 and older have a college degree, compared with about half of Americans of Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Japanese ancestry, and about a quarter of Vietnamese Americans.

On the other side of the socio-economic ledger, Americans with Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and “other U.S. Asian” origins have higher shares in poverty than does the U.S. general public, while those with Indian, Japanese and Filipino origins have lower shares.

So three "Asian American" groups are more likely to be impoverished than the average American and three "Asian American" groups are not. Vietnamese Americans and "other Asian American" groups earn around $5,000/year less than the average American ($40,000/year); the average Filipino American earns about as much as the average American; the average Korean American earns $5,000 more, the average Chinese American earns $10,000 more, while Japanese Americans on average earn $15,000 more and Indian Americans about $25,000 more. Furthermore, these groups all differ from one another on plenty of other important cultural dimensions. So there is no reasonable answer to this question as posed. One would need to ask about the histories of these groups separately.

Source: Full Pew Report, 2013

The Asian Advantage

THIS is an awkward question, but here goes: Why are Asian-Americans so successful in America?

It’s no secret that Asian-Americans are disproportionately stars in American schools, and even in American society as a whole. Census data show that Americans of Asian heritage earn more than other groups, including whites. Asian-Americans also have higher educational attainment than any other group.

I wrote a series of columns last year, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” about racial inequity, and one of the most common responses from angry whites was along these lines: This stuff about white privilege is nonsense, and if blacks lag, the reason lies in the black community itself. Just look at Asian-Americans. Those Koreans and Chinese make it in America because they work hard. All people can succeed here if they just stop whining and start working.

Let’s confront the argument head-on. Does the success of Asian-Americans suggest that the age of discrimination is behind us?

A new scholarly book, “The Asian American Achievement Paradox,” by Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou, notes that Asian-American immigrants in recent decades have started with one advantage: They are highly educated, more so even than the average American. These immigrants are disproportionately doctors, research scientists and other highly educated professionals.

It’s not surprising that the children of Asian-American doctors would flourish in the United States. But Lee and Zhou note that kids of working-class Asian-Americans often also thrive, showing remarkable upward mobility.

And let’s just get one notion out of the way: The difference does not seem to be driven by differences in intelligence.

Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology who has written an excellent book about intelligence, cites a study that followed a pool of Chinese-American children and a pool of white children into adulthood. The two groups started out with the same scores on I.Q. tests, but in the end 55 percent of the Asian-Americans entered high-status occupations, compared with one-third of the whites. To succeed as a manager, whites needed an I.Q. of 100, while Chinese-Americans needed an I.Q. of only 93.

So the Asian advantage, Nisbett argues, isn’t intellectual firepower as such, but how it is harnessed.

Some disagree, but I’m pretty sure that one factor is East Asia’s long Confucian emphasis on education. Likewise, a focus on education also helps explain the success of Jews, who are said to have had universal male literacy 1,700 years before any other group.

Immigrant East Asians often try particularly hard to get into good school districts, or make other sacrifices for children’s education, such as giving prime space in the home to kids to study.

There’s also evidence that Americans believe that A’s go to smart kids, while Asians are more likely to think that they go to hard workers. The truth is probably somewhere in between, but the result is that Asian-American kids are allowed no excuse for getting B’s — or even an A-. The joke is that an A- is an “Asian F.”

Strong two-parent families are a factor, too. Divorce rates are much lower for many Asian-American communities than for Americans as a whole, and there’s evidence that two-parent households are less likely to sink into poverty and also have better outcomes for boys in particular.

Teachers’ expectations can also play a role. This idea was explored in a famous experiment in the 1960s by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson.

After conducting I.Q. tests of students at a California school, the experimenters told the teachers the names of one-fifth of the children who they said were special, and expected to soar. These special students in first and second grades improved dramatically. A year later, 47 percent of them had gained 20 or more I.Q. points.

Yet in truth, the special students were chosen at random. This “Pygmalion effect” was a case of self-fulfilling expectations. Teachers had higher expectations for the special students and made them feel capable — and so that’s what they became.

Lee and Zhou, for their part, think that positive stereotyping may be part of an explanation for the success of Asian-Americans in school.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re Chinese and you’re good in math,’” the book quotes a girl called Angela as saying. “It’s advantageous when they think that.”

(Of course, positive stereotypes create their own burden, with sometimes tremendous stress on children to earn those A’s, at the cost of enjoying childhood. And it can be hard on Asian-American kids whose comparative advantage isn’t in science or math but in theater or punk rock. Among Asians, there’s sometimes concern that there’s too much focus on memorization, not enough on creativity.)

Another factor in Asian scholastic success may be the interaction of social stereotypes and self-confidence. Scholars like Claude Steele have found that blacks sometimes suffer from “stereotype threat”: Anxiety from negative stereotypes impairs performance. Lee and Zhou argue that Asian-Americans sometimes ride on the opposite of “stereotype threat,” a “stereotype promise” that they will be smart and hard-working.

Lee and Zhou also say the success of Asian-Americans, far from revealing a lack of discrimination, is in part a testament to it. They say Asian-Americans work hard to succeed in areas with clear metrics like math and science in part as a protection against bias — and in any case, many Asians still perceive a “bamboo ceiling” that is hard to break through.

To me, the success of Asian-Americans is a tribute to hard work, strong families and passion for education. Bravo! Ditto for the success of Jews, West Indians and other groups that have shown that upward mobility is possible, but let’s not exaggerate the lessons here.

Why should the success of the children of Asian doctors, nurtured by teachers, be reassuring to a black boy in Baltimore who is raised by a struggling single mom, whom society regards as a potential menace? Disadvantage and marginalization are complex, often deeply rooted in social structures and unconscious biases, sometimes compounded by hopelessness and self-destructive behaviors, and because one group can access the American dream does not mean that all groups can.

So, sure, let’s celebrate the success of Asian-Americans, and emulate the respect for education and strong families. But let’s not use the success of Asians to pat ourselves on the back and pretend that discrimination is history.

What came first: Wealth or education?

A predictable variable in Asian wealth is education, the authors wrote, yet it's not the only factor in the equation, nor is it entirely linear. The gains among Asians as a group raise the question of whether education contributed to their wealth, or whether wealth enabled them to attain more education.

The Fed's Emmons feels it's the latter.

"The more wealthy you are, the more you can afford to invest in education," Emmons said.

In 2013, 73 percent of Asians aged 35-39 held a degree beyond high school. That percentage was 54 percent for whites, 36 percent for blacks and 23 percent for Hispanics. The disparity grows when looking at individuals with at least a four-year college degree: 65 percent (Asian), 42 percent (white), 26 percent (black) and 16 percent (Hispanic).

The implications of this academic disparity are far-reaching, and constitute a cycle of sorts. The education gap is driving the wealth accumulation gap, which in turn is driving the education gap.

"The financially literate could become wealthy through their acumen. Or having more wealth could teach you about financial knowledge," said Rakesh Kocchar, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project. He added that wealth is also be driven by what the individual is exposed to in their economic life.

"If you never had to make major financial choices . say someone with low educational attainment, working as a busboy, you were never offered a 401(k) and you're dependent on government programs, then you never had the opportunity to learn how to manage money effectively," Kocchar said.

Asian Americans Then and Now

A look at the long history of Asian Americans and its role in shaping US identity. The essay also looks at the push-pull factors that have helped define demographic trends in the United States to present day and also covers some darker periods of American history, including the Congressional Exclusionary Act restricting immigration based on race and the Japanese American Internment during WWII.

Our children should not be placed in any position where their youthful impressions may be affected by association with pupils of the Mongolian race. —San Francisco School Board, 1905

In response to the challenge of changing demographics more than a century ago, the San Francisco School Board established a segregated Chinese Primary School for Chinese children to attend, including those who were American-born. By the turn-of-the century after Japanese immigrants had settled in the wake of Chinese exclusion, the School Board also applied the Chinese segregation policy to Japanese students. School superintendent, Aaron Altmann, advised the city's principals: "Any child that may apply for enrollment or at present attends your school who may be designated under the head of 'Mongolian' must be excluded, and in furtherance of this please direct them to apply at the Chinese School for enrollment."

Throughout their history, Asian Americans have confronted a long legacy of exclusion and inequity in relation to school policies and practices, particularly during periods of changing demographics, economic recession, or war. In spite of historic, linguistic differences, distinct Asian nationalities have been grouped together and treated similarly in schools and in the larger society. The grouping of Asian Americans together, then, makes sense in light of historic links from the past to the present.

Beginning in the 1850s when young single men were recruited as contract laborers from Southern China, Asian immigrants have played a vital role in the development of this country. Working as miners, railroad builders, farmers, factory workers, and fishermen, the Chinese represented 20% of California's labor force by 1870, even though they constituted only .002% of the entire United States population. With the depression of 1876, amidst cries of "They're taking away our jobs!," anti-Chinese legislation and violence raged throughout the West Coast.

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act—the only United States Iaw to prevent immigration and naturalization on the basis of race—which restricted Chinese immigration for the next sixty years. The "Chinese Must Go" movement was so strong that Chinese immigration to the United States declined from 39,500 in 1882 to only 10 in 1887.

By 1885, following Chinese Exclusion Act, large numbers of young Japanese laborers, together with smaller numbers of Koreans and Indians, began arriving on the West Coast where they replaced the Chinese as cheap labor in building railroads, farming, and fishing. Growing anti-Japanese legislation and violence soon followed. In 1907, Japanese immigration was restricted by a "Gentleman's Agreement" between the United States and Japan.

Small numbers of Korean immigrants came to Hawaii and then the mainland United States following the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War and Japan's occupation of Korea. Serving as strike-breakers, railroad builders, and agricultural workers, Korean immigrants faced not only racist exclusion in the United States but Japanese colonization at home. Some Korean patriots also settled in the United States as political exiles and organized for Korean independence.

South Asian Indian immigrants also entered the United States as laborers, following Chinese exclusion. Recruited initially by Canadian-Pacific railroad companies, a few thousand Sikh immigrants from the Punjabi region immigrated to Canada which, like India, was part of the British empire. Later, many migrated into the Pacific Northwest and California, and became farm laborers. Ironically decried as a "Hindu invasion" by exclusionists and white labor, the "tide of the Turbans" was outlawed in 1917 when Congress declared that India was part of the Pacific-Barred Zone of excluded Asian countries.

By 1924, with the exception of Filipino "nationals," all Asian immigrants, including Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Indians were fully excluded by law, denied citizenship and naturalization, and prevented from marrying Caucasians or owning land.

With all other Asians excluded, thousands of young, single Filipinos began migrating in large numbers to the West Coast during the 1920s to work in farms and canneries, filling the continuing need for cheap labor. Filipinos were not legally excluded by the immigration laws because the Philippines was already annexed by the United States as a result of the 1898 Spanish-American War. Racism and economic competition, intensified by the depression of 1929, however, led to severe anti-Filipino violence and passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1935 which placed an annual quota of fifty on Filipino migration—effectively excluding their entry as well. During the half century from 1882 to 1935, three waves of early Asian immigrants contributed their labor to the building of this country but were eventually denied entry and not granted naturalization rights until 1952. Though coming from different countries and cultures, the pioneering Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Indians, and Filipinos each faced similar conditions of exclusion which forged the beginnings of a common, shared Asian experience in America.

There are important parallels between European and Asian immigration history, especially in terms of how individuals responded to the "pushes" and "pulls" in their homelands and then faced contadictory experiences of discrimination and opportunity the U.S. However, the "push-pull" model commonly used to explain European immigration, like the melting pot paradigm of immigrant assimilation, does not explain the fundamental differences in patterns of Asian immigration and exclusion.

These differences can only be understood by recognizing critical features of the historical period, including:

  • the reality of western colonialism and unequal power relations in Asia
  • the insatiable need for cheap labor that accompanied manifest destiny westward expansion and economic development in the United States and
  • the influence on social policy and public attitudes that resulted from lack of knowledge about Asian peoples, and racist notions of white superiority.

Though many are familiar with Ellis Island as a symbol of America's immigration history, few realize that Angel Island—a comparable immigration detention center for the West Coast—was the site where immigration policy was enforced during the Asian exclusion years. Angel Island represents an important counterpoint to Ellis Island and the saga of American immigration history.

Between 1910 and 1940, hopeful Chinese immigrants were detained at Angel Island where they were required to undergo humiliating medical examinations and detailed interrogations. Questions ranged from "What are the birthdates of each member of your family?" to "Who lived in the third house of the second row of your village?" Failed answers were grounds for continued detainment and eventual deportation back to China.

In 1970, a park ranger discovered sets of Chinese characters carved into the wooden walls of the barracks. Now recognized as an historic Iandmark, the Angel Island detention center bears witness to the bitterness and frustration of excluded Chinese immigrants who carved more than one hundred poems into the walls.

Although minor reforms in immigration law, due to changing international relations, allowed for limited numbers of Asians to enter the United States following the World War II era, United States immigration laws remained discriminatory toward Asians until 1965 when, in response to the civil rights movement, non-restrictive annual quotas of 20,000 immigrants per country were established. For the first time in United States history, large numbers of Asians were able to come to the United States as families. In addition, due to the United States' eagerness for technology during the Cold War, foreign engineers and scientists were also encouraged to emigrate to the United States. The dramatic changes in the Asian Pacific American landscape during the past twenty years, particularly with the explosive growth of new Filipino, Korean, South Asian Indian, and Chinese populations have resulted from the liberalization of immigration laws in 1965.

Beginning in 1975, Southeast Asian refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos have entered the United States after escaping from war, social chaos, discrimination, and economic hardship. Roughly one million Southeast Asians, including about 30,000 Amerasian children of American servicemen and their families, have entered the United States since then through a variety of refugee resettlement and immigration programs.

Refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos each have distinct cultures, languages, and contexts of historical development. Although each country shares certain influences from their common history as a French colonial territory for nearly a century until 1954, Vietnam is much more culturally influenced by China while Cambodia and Laos have been more influenced by India. Within each country, there are Chinese and other ethnic minority populations such as the Hmong, Mien, and Khmer from Laos.

Many cases also link the present to the past. The experiences of personal struggle, economic contribution, racial harassment, and discriminatory legislation targeting Vietnamese fishermen in California's Monterey Bay during the 1980s, for example, are almost identical to those of earlier generations of Japanese and Chinese fishermen who successively fished in Monterey Bay during the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Each May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Asia Society interviews prominent Asian Americans about their lives and work. See the complete archive.Learn more

You’ve said that Asian Americans over the course of the 20th century went from being regarded as “unassimilable” to “exceptional.” How did that evolution come about?

The image in the minds of many Americans is that there's something unique about Asian culture that drives exceptional outcomes like high educational attainment and high median household incomes. One of the ways I show that this is a fallacy is to look historically at the image of the Asian Americans. In the late 1800s to early 1900s, Asian Americans were perceived as filthy and uneducated they were segregated, ineligible for citizenship, and barred from interracial dating or marriage. In fact, throughout most of U.S. history, Asians were considered unassimilable.

But the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 [which ended quotas that restricted immigration from Asian countries] changed the socioeconomic profile of Asian Americans. Today, 49 percent of Asian Americans are college educated, compared to 28 percent of the U.S. population. So the Asian immigrants in the United States are very highly educated, and this drives the way we think about Asian Americans more generally.

For example, if we look at Chinese immigrants, 51 percent have a college degree or higher. But only 4 percent of China's population does. So the Chinese immigrants who are coming do not represent the Chinese population overall. We call this hyper-selectivity.

I teach classes in immigration and race, and when I ask students to guess what percentage of China's population is college educated, they guess anywhere from 70 to 90 percent. They're absolutely flabbergasted when I tell them it's only 4 percent. Who we see in the United States becomes emblematic of what we think the people in a given country of origin are like. The hyper-selectivity of Asian immigrants drives our perception that all Asian Americans are smart, highly educated, and socioeconomically successful.

But you argue that these sorts of stereotypes have certain benefits .

The perception among many Americans that Asian Americans are smart, hardworking, and diligent affects how teachers, guidance counselors, and peers see and treat Asian American students. In our research, one of the things we found was that Asian American students are given the benefit of the doubt — they’re often tracked into advanced placement (AP) or honors courses, sometimes without having taken a test to get in.

Once you're perceived as deserving and high-achieving, positive stereotypes can help to change behavior in students. Suddenly, they work harder because they want to meet those expectations. It’s important to keep in mind that they were not high achieving from the start, but stereotype promise works as a performance booster, which enables them to graduate with high GPAs and get into top universities.

We also interviewed Mexican students in our study and none of them were given this kind of messaging. Often, they were clamoring for their guidance counselors’ attention and to be taken seriously. They may have wanted to go to a four-year university, but none of them were tracked into AP or honors courses unless they had passed a test.

What sorts of drawbacks are there in these sorts of stereotypes for Asian Americans?

There's a perception that Asian American students are hardworking and smart, but they're not vocal or creative — they may not be willing to speak up in class. They may be good students but may not be strong leaders. The stereotypes that may benefit students when they're young hamper them after they graduate from college and become more senior. These stereotypes may help them land an entry level job, but one of the things that we found in our research and in other people's research is that the stereotypes about being quiet, hardworking, and diligent actually hurt when Asian Americans vie for management or leadership positions.

There seems to be evidence a "bamboo ceiling" — similar to the glass ceiling for women. So the stereotypes may not hurt Asian Americans get an entry level job, but they may hurt them as they try to move up and get promoted to a job that not only earns more but also gives opportunities for leadership. Research has shown that when you control for level of education, college type, and even major, Asian American men earn 8 percent less than comparable white men. Asian American women earn the same as white women but they're much less likely to be in a position where they're supervising other people.

A special town hall event hosted by Asia Society Northern California discusses the numerous issues that affect Asian Pacific Americans from across the political spectrum. (1 hr., 9 min.)

There has been a lot of attention recently around Asian Americans who oppose affirmative action policies — particularly in universities. How sizeable is this cohort according to your research?

In the 2012 National Asian American Survey (NAAS), 75 percent of Asian American registered voters claimed to support affirmative action in both education and the workplace. This may seem high compared to some media portraits suggesting Asian Americans are against affirmative action, but this is in line with other evidence. In the 2016 NAAS, we also asked whether they support the government doing more to give blacks equal rights with whites, and 72 percent of Asian-Americans supported that too.

There is a minority that very much opposes affirmative action. They believe it hurts their children's chances of getting into the elite universities. So they have been very vocal and some have been partnering with very conservative organizations to promote this view, but they do represent a minority of Asian Americans in this respect.

In a similar vein, there have been a fair number of very vocal Asian American Donald Trump supporters. Do you think they’re similarly overrepresented in media reports?

They do go against the grain in the same way that the minority who opposes affirmative action does. It is really astonishing how progressive the majority of Asian Americans are on a number of issues. Based on the 2016 NAAS, 60 percent support the Affordable Care Act, 62 percent oppose a Muslim ban, and 76 percent support stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change. So all of the sorts of issues that Trump is supporting, Asian Americans overall do not support. This isn't to dismiss the minority, but focusing on them really gives an inaccurate portrait of who Asian Americans are.

Asian Americans have historically had very low voter turnout. Do you think Trump will galvanize more civic participation among Asian Americans?

Asian Americans do historically have low voter turnout rate, and a large part of that has to do with the fact that the majority of Asian Americans are foreign-born. Two-thirds of Asians in the United States are immigrants, and among Asian American adults it's four-in-five. Research consistently shows that immigrants are much less likely to vote than those born in the United States. So this may change just as U.S.-born Asian Americans grow older.

That said, I think one of the things we're finding is that even Asian American millennials that are U.S.-born don't have particularly high voter turnout rates either. But what we see is that they're very active in other ways — in social media and in ways that might not look like traditional political engagement. They are active in responding to issues that they think will hurt their communities and issues that will help promote their communities. I think there are different forms of civic engagement that aren't captured by looking only at voting and voter registration. And I do think Trump is helping to galvanize that.

How useful do you think the "Asian American" label is?

I think this is an excellent question and people debate it a lot. Asian American as a label is a political construct and I think it's very helpful to mobilize very diverse groups. But the danger in that the label is that it's often employed in ways that really mask the tremendous diversity of the Asian American population.

Asian Americans are the most diverse U.S. racial group. If you look at educational outcomes, for instance, you have some groups that have extraordinarily high rates of college education like Indians, Chinese, and Koreans. But then there are other groups like Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong that have higher high school dropout rates than African Americans and Latinos. Asian Americans represent both extremes of the spectrum. They have extremely high median household income and also extremely high poverty rates.

I think the other thing that's important is that some of the largest groups — Chinese and Indians — are driving the narrative of Asian American outcomes. Because they're the largest and tend, on average, to do very well, they mask the problems and challenges that other Asian ethnic groups experience.

An Asian American Responds to “Why Can’t Blacks be More Like ‘The Asians’”

The internet is ablaze after Professor Jerry Hough of Duke University made several inflammatory comments about race. In the comments section of a NYT editorial article titled, “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” he basically asks why Black people can’t suck it up and be more like ‘The Asians’ as he called us. Here’s a link to the original story and comments. So now that he’s involved Asian-Americans, I have no choice but to break down why his opinions are absolute trash.

“The point I was raising was why the Asians who were oppressed did so well and are integrating so well, and the blacks are not doing as well,”

Let me answer that for you Professor. It’s because Asians didn’t have the same complex and elaborate system of racism that was built to oppress Blacks. Asians came onto the scene in the mid 1800s long after the system of slavery had been established to oppress Blacks. We Asians definitely were (and are) discriminated against. Lynch mobs, housing discrimination, internment camps, immigration quotas, but the system that oppressed Blacks had been here longer, was enforced more brutally, and has remained to this day. Slavery, black codes, segregation, redlining, ghettos, police brutality, prison systems. And let’s remember that stereotypes cast Asians as smart and workaholics, while Blacks are portrayed as lazy, dangerous, and dumb. These stereotypes can cost jobs, opportunities, and even lives.
The struggles that Asians and Blacks went through were completely different. One group came over mostly as willing economic migrants or as refugees fleeing war. The other group was forcefully taken from their homelands to work as slaves.
This statement also assumes that Asian Americans don’t have serious issues to deal with either. Americans of South Asian descent are often victims of hate crimes that stem from islamophobia. Southeast Asian Americans have some of the highest poverty and high school drop-out rates in the country, but because of the ‘model minority’ stereotype that all Asian Americans are thriving in America, these issues often are ignored.

“Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration,” his online comment said. “Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.”

First off, if you think names are part of the problem of racial tension, then I seriously wonder how you ever got a degree in anything.
Secondly, Hiep. Sanjay. Nhan. Khoi. Jasmeet. Hien. Min. Muhammad. Fatima. An. Tong. Mao. Many American-born Asians have names from their culture. And nothing is wrong with that. Many Blacks are descendants of slaves who literally had their cultures ripped away from them. Few American Blacks know where they’re from because that’s not something that slave owners would tell their slaves, or even know themselves. The first slaves were sold off into the New World, their native languages, traditions, and religions completely purged. Names are used by many as a small piece of cultural identity to hold onto.

“The amount of Asian-White dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-White dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a White.”

Let’s look at a study by the Pew Research Center. In 2007, they found that 97% of Blacks were okay with interracial dating while only 81% of Whites found interracial dating acceptable.

While stigma of interracial in the Black community exists, let’s flip it and also remember huge the stigma attached to those who date Blacks. There are many people who ‘are not racist’ but have said they would never marry a Black person. To those who are in a relationship with a Black person, society basically says that the only way a person of African descent can be desirable to a non-Black is if the non-Black has an odd sexual fetish known as ‘jungle fever’. Why? Because Black is commonly considered the most ‘undesirable’ race to date because society has portrayed Blacks as being undesirable, ugly, dangerous, and/or a bad romantic partner.

And since we’re on the topic of interracial relationships, relationships between Asians and Whites aren’t as cookie-cutter as Hough would like you to believe. Asian-White couples more often comprise of a White male and an Asian female than an Asian male and a White female. In the media, Asian females often portrayed to be the ‘exotic’ love interest of a strong White male protagonist. Asian males are portrayed to be weak, foreign, nerdy, and often used to be comedic relief. Studies from dating sites “OkCupid” and “Are You Interested” found that East and South Asian males are among the three least desirable demographic groups in dating, with Black females being the most undesirable.

Honestly, I don’t want to hear this crap about how Blacks have resisted integration. American society itself has been the one that has hindered integration the most. I’m profoundly disappointed that this man is even a professor. His ideas could be refuted by any college student with an internet connection. Before making more ignorant comments, I highly suggest that he take a couple courses in Asian American studies and African American studies. His entire tirade seems to just be an attempt at denying the reality of racism by driving different ethnic groups against one another. What we need instead is unity and solidarity against bigotry. We are all Americans and if some of our people are the victims of oppression, it’s our duty to acknowledge it and then take steps to fight against it.

Probing School Success Of Asian-Americans

Part of that success, the new research suggests, is explained by the fact that Asian-American students, far more than members of other minorities, see earning advanced degrees as the only sure-fire way to overcome discrimination. That perception operates hand in hand with strong family bonds to make Asian-American students work harder at their studies, doing almost 50 percent more homework than their peers from grammar school on.

Beyond that intense effort, Asian-American students come from families and communities that have been less devastated by racism than those of other minority students, and so have more economic and emotional resources to draw on for their education. There is also a hidden advantage for some Asian-American students who have performed the best: in many cases their immigrant parents were professionals in their native countries and instill in their children a striving for the status they lost on leaving their homeland.

Of course, no single answer applies to every student. There are many Asian groups in America, ranging from impoverished Vietnamese boat people to prosperous fifth-generation Chinese-Americans. Even so, the overwhelming success of Asian-Americans has intrigued researchers who hope to find clues that can help other minorities do better in school.

Although researchers differ on other points, there is a strong consensus that protecting themselves from discrimination is a compelling motive for many Asian-Americans in seeking academic success.

While there have been no studies showing a causal link between fear of prejudice and academic success, reseachers report that in interviews Asian-Americans repeatedly cite the fear as a reason for increased academic effort. In some cases, researchers who are themselves Asian-American testify to the link from their own experience.

For example, Stanley Sue, a psychologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, recalls that his father was denied membership in the union at a shipyard where he worked because he was Chinese.

Dr. Sue said that experience led him to conclude that he would have to do well in school to overcome such discrimination. Although neither his mother nor his father had more than a high school education, he and his three brothers all went on to earn Ph.D.'s.

Dr. Sue argues that the impressive academic success of Asian-Americans is largely a result of their strong belief in education as an escape route from the social and economic limits imposed by prejudice - a belief they hold more strongly than do other minorities.

In a study of more than 10,000 high school students, Sanford Dornbusch, a sociologist at Stanford, found that Asian-American students far more than any other group believed that ''if you do not do well in school, you are doomed to a poor job.''

Many social scientists point to centuries of a mandarin tradition, in which Asian cultures, particularly China, had an intellectual elite that rose to power through passing stringent tests. They suggest that this model of a meritocracy of the intellect has left its mark in the high value Asians place on education.

One sign that Asian-American academic effort is propelled in large part by the need to overcome discrimination is that their academic achievement tends to drop over the generations, Dr. Sue said. Dr. Dornbusch, with Phillip Ritter, found that first-generation Asian-Americans had grade point averages of 3.2 on a scale of 4.0, while for the third generation it had slipped to 3.0. The more Americanized Asian-Americans have become, Dr. Sue said, the less they worry about being denied access to good jobs because of their ethnicity.

Several theories seek to explain why other minorities, unlike Asian-Americans, fail to gravitate to higher education. Leonard Gordon a sociologist at Arizona State University, looks to history to explain the difference he found between Asian-Americans and other minorities in studies of close to 600 students. While black and Hispanic students had the same life goals as did Asian-Americans, there was a great difference in their expectations. ''They didn't have the same hope of success as did Asian-American students,'' Dr. Gordon said. ''Their history leads them to be pessimistic about reaching their goals.''

That attitude marks one of the strongest differences in outlook between Asian-American students as compared with blacks, Hispanic Americans and native Americans, said John Ogbu, an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley, who is leading a study of school achievement by minority students in San Francisco.

Most Asian-Americans are voluntary immigrants, drawn here in part by the dream of success, he said in an article in the current issue of Daedalus. Such immigrants see cultural differences as something to overcome, while involuntary groups tend to cherish differences. That leaves many members of those groups unwilling to fit into patterns that undermine their group identity, he said.

Some education researchers see a secret of Asian-American academic success in how parents coax children to work harder at school.

For example, Shinying Lee, a psychologist at the University of Michigan who came to America as a graduate student, said she gave her 6-year-old extra work after school. ''I have him practice Chinese by writing two sentences every day, and then I have him do a few math problems,'' Dr. Lee said. ''Most other Chinese parents I know do the same.''

In studies of grammar school children in Chicago schools, Dr. Lee, working with a colleague, Harold Stevenson, found that there was virtually no difference between Asian-Americans and other students in intelligence or achievement.

A Rise in Anti-Asian Attacks

A torrent of hate and violence against people of Asian descent around the United States began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

    • Background: Community leaders say the bigotry was fueled by President Donald J. Trump, who frequently used racist language like “Chinese virus” to refer to the coronavirus.
    • Data: The New York Times, using media reports from across the country to capture a sense of the rising tide of anti-Asian bias, found more than 110 episodes since March 2020 in which there was clear evidence of race-based hate.
    • UnderreportedHate Crimes: The tally may be only a sliver of the violence and harassment given the general undercounting of hate crimes, but the broad survey captures the episodes of violence across the country that grew in number amid Mr. Trump's comments.
    • In New York: A wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. Many community leaders say racist assaults are being overlooked by the authorities.
    • What Happened inAtlanta: Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in shootings at massage parlors in Atlanta on March 16. A Georgia prosecutor said that the Atlanta-area spa shootings were hate crimes, and that she would pursue the death penalty against the suspect, who has been charged with murder.

    ''We studied first-graders in Chicago schools,'' Dr. Lee said. ''There is virtually no difference between Asian-Americans and other groups on achievement tests in first grade.''

    ''That rules out a difference in I.Q.,'' Dr. Lee said. 'ɻut by fifth grade, Asian-Americans had much higher math achievement scores.'' The most obvious reason for that difference, which emerges in grade school and grows steadily, is that like Dr. Lee's 6-year-old, they work harder than other students.

    In studies of 7,836 high school students in the San Francisco area, Asian-Americans spent about 40 percent more time doing homework than did other students - about seven hours a week versus five. ''That is the first and most important reason for the differences: Asian-Americans work harder,'' said Dr. Dornbusch, who did the studies.

    There is also a fundamental difference between most Asian American parents and other parents in how they react to a child's poor performance. ''Most American parents are willing to accept a child's weak areas and emphasize the strengths,'' said Dr. Dornbusch, who has done dozens of studies on academic achievement among Asian and other minority groups. 'ɻut for Asians, the attitude is that if you're not doing well, the answer is to study later at night, and if you still don't do well, to get up and study earlier in the morning. They believe that anyone can do well in school with the right effort.''

    Behind the harder work, said Dr. Dornbusch, lies another basic difference between Asian-American and other students. ''They are oriented toward their families, not just their friends,'' he said. Interviews he conducted in his studies lead him to conclude, he said, that 'ɺsian kids tend to think of themselves as representing their family and see their task as doing well in school, not just for themselves, but for their families as a whole.''

    A hidden factor in the academic success of Asian-American students is that a large number are themselves children of professionals, said Ronald Takaki, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California at Berkeley. ''There is an important class difference between Asian and black or Hispanic students,'' he said. ''Those Asian-Americans who seem to be super whiz kids are mostly from professional families.''

    While many black and Hispanic parents feel that education would help their children evade the pain of racism, they often do not have the same family resources available. ''Over 50 percent of black kids are from impoverished single-parent families,'' Dr. Takaki said. ''They don't have an intact family with highly educated parents, like many Asian-American students.'' Black students who come from such families perform above average academically, Dr. Gordon has found.

    In many cases the parents of Asian-American students are immigrants who were not able to find jobs in America in the professions for which they trained in Asia. Such parents feel 'ɺ tremendous psychological need to recover their lost class status,'' said Dr. Takaki. ''The way for them to do that is to be sure their children get high-status degrees.''

    When and went why did Asian Americans go from "yellow peril" to "model minority" in the minds of white Americans?

    This is actually a more fragmented shift than the question presupposes. There wasn't a point where you could say they all fit in either of these two categories according to most Americans. In other words, there's a slight problem with the premise.

    In the late 1800s after the Opium Wars and the lead-up to the Chinese Exculsion Acts, the Yellow Peril was in full swing, exemplified in things like Sax Rohmer's writings and the sort of rhetoric that was developing against Chinese on the West Coast. This was coming right after the quickly-modified 1868 Burlingame Treaty which had, albeit briefly, encouraged Chinese immigration to the US, and things like the Boxer Indemnity funds which also resulted in Chinese students coming to the US. However, as mentioned it was quickly reversed, in part, as the Angell Treaty signed in 1880, which we can say is the formal start of anti-Chinese legislation on a national level.

    But this did not generally apply to Japanese. At the same time that Chinese were being marginalised with attitudes toward them becoming negative, Japan was still fetishised in a popular light, and just after the turn of the century it wouldn't have been at all uncommon for the average white American of means to engage in things like sushi parties. The Page Act (1875) did include Japanese by name, but this was more intended (as written) to prevent unwilling migration, and at any rate the number of Japanese migrating at the time was nearly infinitesimal. The Page Act was fairly limited in scope, and it would be a mistake to take it as the most indicative thing reflecting how white America felt toward the relevant cultures at the time.

    I digress. While the situation for Japanese wasn't the same everywhere, most notably in Hawai'i where there was a stronger resistance in the late 19th century, it wasn't really until well after the Chinese Exclusion Acts were at their height that the tables turned on Japanese immigrants, having been somewhere between tolerated and accepted up until then. It wasn't really until the Immigration Act of 1924 that Japanese were explicitly banned, though due to economic competition there was plenty of hostility growing in the two decades before then. While in the end they ended up caught up in the Yellow Peril, they really were separate from the whole thing for the first good many decades.

    So that's one end, the Yellow Peril end, of the spectrum you've proposed.

    For the other end we can look at the 1980s and 1990s where Chinese immigrants, now quite well established, were seen in terms of the "model minority", but again this did not apply to all East Asians. Koreans and Vietnamese still had significant difficulties, though where they fell on the scale fluctuated with time and place. During the LA riots, Koreans were very much not seen as the "model minority". (edit: I need to clarify that this wasn't a causal relationship so much as, during that time, views on Koreans were mixed among the average white American. That the riots happened and brought people's attention to them is coincident, but not necessarily a determiner of negative attitudes. It's in part because they were seen as heroically defending shops, as one commenter brought up, their image fluctuated into the positive.) Likewise Vietnamese immigrants/refugees in the 1980s and 90s were accused of all the same claims that they were unassimilable with America's culture that the Chinese had faced a century before. Regardless, at this time, Vietnamese immigrants included into the category of "model minority" for most white Americans, where Korean Americans fells in that scale was also not clear, and still when the riots were happening, Vietnamese immigrants who had little or nothing to do with the LA Korean communities were also targeted.

    The divisions between East Asian groups, as viewed by White America, were always more salient in the public eye than their shared Asian-ness. You can see this most strikingly comparing characters of Chinese (and Japanese) near the beginning of the 20th century with the sorts of WWII-era illustrations, for example "How to tell a Chinese from a Jap" where now the Chinese are described as more "normal" in comparison.

    Attitudes toward different East Asian groups have been constantly shifting for as long as there have been Asians in North America, and chances are that will continue to happen.

    It's late so I've not included a lot of specific details and listed references here but if you want to know more about any of the above points, please let me know and I'll be happy to fill in more detail as requested. It might take a couple days though because I'll be travelling internationally and I'm pretty sure my planes won't have wifi.

    Korean Americans in the 1990s:

    Elaine Kim's Home is Where the Han Is: A Korean-American Perspective on the Los Angeles Upheavals, as mentioned by /u/The_Alaskan, is a great place to start for those interested in that period.

    Abelmann & Lie (1995) Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots — same period

    Vietnamese refugees and immigrants

    Barkan, Elliott R, (2012) Immigrants in American History:Arrival, Adaptation, and Integration — (among other groups)

    Schulzinger, Robert D (2006) A Time for Peace: The Legacy of the Vietnam War

    Chinese Exclusion Period:

    Gyory, Andrew (1998) Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act

    Lee, Erika (2003) At America's Gates: The Exclusion Era, 1882-1943

    Mar, Lisa Rose (2010) Brokering Belonging Chinese in Canada’s Exclusion Era, 1885–1945. Oxford University Press.

    Japanese Americans: (mostly Hawai'i but also addresses mainland issues)

    Okihiro, Gary Y (1991) Cane Fires: The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945

    Odo, Franklin (2004) No sword to bury: Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War II

    Related Reddit comments (further reading) – I've written a dozen or so answers about topics related to Asian immigration to the Americas. The following are the one I dug up which may be most relevant, to which I would have ended up saying similar things in this comment, but it's probably better to just link in the interest of parsimony.

    Anti-Japanese sentiment as related to the period of fetishisation (actually about the history of sushi in America but touches on these issues)

    A note regarding sourcing answers on AskHistorians: (speaking as a mod)

    Speaking as a mod for a second: Sources are not a requirement at r/AskHistorians for top-level comments, unless they are requested . I only just now saw that two people have reported this comment for lacking sources, but no one had actually asked for a source, so none were included. I did say, just one paragraph above this, that I would happily provide sources / more info. I didn't actually see the comment reports until just now, because – again since sources aren't required – other moderators approved the comment thus marking those reports as "read", so to speak.

    However since I've now seen the reports, I'll take that as a request and have provided some above. For future reference, if you see a comment that youɽ like sourced but isn't sourced, don't report it because the commenter never sees that. Instead, leave a reply asking for sources.

    The real secret to Asian American success was not education

    For those who doubt that racial resentment lingers in this nation, Asian Americans are a favorite talking point. The argument goes something like this: If “white privilege” is so oppressive — if the United States is so hostile toward its minorities — why do census figures show that Asian Americans out-earn everyone?

    In a 2014 editorial, conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly pointed out that Asian household incomes were 20 percent higher than white household incomes on average. “So, do we have Asian privilege in America?” he asked. Of course not, he said. The real reason that Asians are “succeeding far more than African-Americans and even more than white Americans” is that “their families are intact and education is paramount,” he said.

    This claim has been with us since at least the 1960s, when it served as a popular rejoinder to the challenges issued by the civil rights movement. Many newspapers printed flattering portraits of Asian Americans to cast skepticism on the people marching for economic and social justice.

    “At a time when it is being proposed that hundreds of billions be spent to uplift the Negroes and other minorities, the nation’s 300,000 Chinese-Americans are moving ahead on their own,” claimed a 1966 story in the U.S. News and World Report, which noted their “strict discipline” and “traditional virtues.”

    To the extent that all myths are rooted in truth, this model minority stereotype recognizes a real pattern of Asian upward mobility. A century ago, Asian Americans were known as laborers of the lowest wage. They were ditch diggers, launderers, miners. Yet over the decades, despite poverty, racial violence and widespread discrimination, many Asians managed to clamber up the socioeconomic ladder.

    Until now, the story of how that happened has been poorly understood.

    “The widespread assumption is that Asian Americans came to the United States very disadvantaged, and they wound up advantaged through extraordinary investments in their children’s education,” says Brown University economist Nathaniel Hilger.

    But that's not what really happened, he says.

    Hilger recently used old census records to trace the fortunes of whites, blacks and Asians who were born in California during the early- to mid-20th century. He found that educational gains had little to do with how Asian Americans managed to close the wage gap with whites by the 1970s.

    Instead, his research suggests that society simply became less racist toward Asians.

    Asian Americans have been part of the United States for most of its history. The first major wave of immigrants came in the 1800s, when Chinese laborers flocked to California to help build railroads. Their presence soon stirred up resentments among white Americans. The Chinese Massacre of 1871, which took place in the streets of Los Angeles, counts among the largest lynchings in U.S. history.

    In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which shut the door on the influx of low-skilled Chinese labor. By 1924, nearly all immigration from Asian nations was banned. Despite widespread discrimination, many families remained, settling mostly in California. Opinion surveys from that era show that whites expressed extreme prejudice against both Asian and African Americans. Asians also lived in segregated neighborhoods and often sent their children to segregated schools. To survive, many opened their own businesses because no one would employ them.

    Hilger’s research focuses on native-born whites, blacks and Asians to rule out the effects of subsequent immigration. In 1965, changing laws ushered in a surge of high-skilled, high-earning Asian workers, who now account for most of the Asians living in the United States today.

    But even before the arrival of those highly educated immigrants, the Asians already living in the United States had more or less closed the wage gap with whites.

    At the time of the 1940 census, Hilger found, California-born Asian men earned less than California-born black men. By the 1970 census, they were earning about the same as white men, and by the 1980 census, the native-born Asian men were out-earning white men.

    Throughout this time, many Asian American families did invest, increasingly, in their children's education. But Hilger discovered that the improvements in educational attainment were too modest to explain how Asians' earnings grew so fast.

    The picture became much clearer when he compared people with similar levels of education. Hilger found that in the 1940s, Asian men were paid less than white men with the same amount of schooling. But by the 1980s, that gap had mostly disappeared.

    “Asians used to be paid like blacks,” Hilger said. “But between 1940 and 1970, they started to get paid like whites.” The charts below shows average earnings for native-born black, white and Asian depending on how much education they had.

    In 1980, for instance, even Asian high school dropouts were earning about as much as white high school dropouts, and vastly more than black high school dropouts. This dramatic shift had nothing to do with Asians accruing more education. Instead, Hilger points to the slow dismantling of discriminatory institutions after World War II, and the softening of racist prejudices. That’s the same the explanation advanced by economists Harriet Orcutt Duleep and Seth Sanders, who found that in the second half of the 20th century, Asian Americans not only started to work in more lucrative industries, but also started to get paid more for the same kind of work.

    In other words, the remarkable upward mobility of California-born Asians wasn’t about superior schooling (not yet, anyway). It was the result of Asians finally receiving better opportunities — finally earning equal pay for equal skills and equal work.

    Why couldn’t African Americans close the wage gap? It’s hard to say. Hilger found some evidence that there were underlying differences in skill. Between Asians and African Americans with the same amount of schooling, African Americans tended to achieve lower scores on military enlistment tests during the 1940s.

    But it’s also likely that postwar racial attitudes shifted differently for Asians than for African Americans. In the 1850s, newspapers in California complained that Chinese immigrants were the dregs of the laboring class, having “most of the vices and few of the virtues of the African.” Yet by the 1960s, attitudes had completely flipped. Journalists praised Asians for being hard workers who cherished education, kept their heads down and rarely complained.

    “Still being taught in Chinatown is the old idea that people should depend on their own efforts — not a welfare check — in order to reach America’s ‘promised land,’” the 1966 U.S. News and World Report article said.

    Since then, waves of high-skill immigration have further cemented the stereotype of Asians as a studious, well-off demographic. Highly educated parents encourage their children to become highly educated, compounding the advantage. About half of Asian Americans over the age of 25 now hold college degrees, compared with only 28 percent of Americans overall.

    Hilger's research found that 50 years ago, Asians were held back primarily by lack of opportunities. Now that discrimination against Asians has lessened somewhat, the Asian edge in education is apparent: Average incomes among Asians Americans are higher because Asian Americans have higher rates of college attainment. (To be clear, we are talking about averages only. As a group, Asian Americans have considerable socioeconomic diversity.)

    But if we take a page from Hilger and focus on people with similar educational backgrounds, the residual disadvantages become clear. Asians actually earn 5 percent less compared with whites who also have advanced degrees — while blacks and Hispanics earn 20 percent less.

    This is one of several problems with the model minority myth. (Here’s another.) Many people hold up Asian Americans as proof that hard work and education leads to success no matter your skin color. On the contrary, these statistics show that being a minority in the United States often means working harder to earn less.

    More education will help close racial wage gaps somewhat, but it will not resolve problems of denied opportunity. In fact, recent studies suggest that income disparities are growing at the very top between blacks and whites. According to an Economic Policy Institute report from September, the difference between what a white college graduate earns and what a black college graduate earns has widened since the 1980s.

    Emphasizing the power of educational attainment also obscures the barriers that remain. Despite the complaints of Stephen K. Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s alt-right adviser who’s a darling of white supremacy groups, it is simply false that “two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia.” Even among technology companies, which hire a disproportionate number of Asian workers, Asians are vastly underrepresented in upper management. Yet, the model minority myth makes a statement like Bannon's feel true to many.

    Asian Americans — some of them at least — have made tremendous progress in the United States. But the greatest thing that ever happened to them wasn't that they studied hard, or that they benefited from tiger moms or Confucian values. It's that other Americans started treating them with a little more respect.

    Confronting Asian-American Stereotypes

    In this week’s Race/Related newsletter: a conversation with experts, plus a personal essay about discrimination.


    This is the web version of our Race/Related newsletter. Please sign up here to have it delivered weekly to your inbox.

    We explored discrimination against Asian-Americans with Jennifer Lee, a professor of sociology at Columbia University and the author of “The Asian-American Achievement Paradox” and Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy and political science at University of California, Riverside, and director of the National Asian-American Survey.

    Harvard has been accused of giving lower personality ratings to Asian-American applicants. The news reminded many Asian-Americans of some painful stereotypes, that they’re industrious but don’t have interpersonal skills and charm. Where did these stereotypes come from?

    JL: While the current stereotype of Asian-Americans is that they are smart, competent and hard-working, a century ago, Asian-Americans were perceived as illiterate, undesirable, full of “filth and disease” and unassimilable. They were perceived as “marginal members of the human race,” were denied the right to become naturalized U.S. citizens, and segregated to ethnic enclaves.

    But the change in U.S. immigration law in 1965 — which gave preference to highly educated and highly skilled applicants — ushered in a new wave of Asian immigrants. Not only are they more likely to have graduated than those who did not immigrate from their countries of origin, but they are more likely to have graduated from college than the U.S. mean — what we refer to as “hyper-selectivity”.

    For example, Chinese immigrants in the United States are 12 times as likely to have graduated from college than Chinese who did not immigrate. They are also almost twice as likely to have a college degree than the average American. The hyper-selectivity has resulted in the stereotype that Chinese-Americans (and Asian-Americans more broadly) are smart, competent and hard-working. But they are also vilified for being too smart, too focused on academics, one-dimensional and lacking personal skills.

    KR: It is also important to acknowledge that stereotypes of Asians can also vary by national origin. The 2016 Post-Election National Asian-American Survey shows that South Asians and Southeast Asians are less likely to be perceived as intelligent when compared with East Asians, and we know from reports of hate crimes and qualitative studies of the Asian-American population that South Asians are more likely to fall victim to stereotypes about terrorism. These stereotypes about South Asians stem from news coverage and entertainment depictions. Now these stereotypes might have no bearing on college admissions, but they certainly play a role in how different Asian-American groups experience discrimination in society.

    How do those stereotypes come into play after college? (A new study concluded that Asian-Americans are the least likely to be promoted to management.)

    KR: Part of why Asian-Americans seem to have a disproportionately high level of interest in getting into an elite college is that they believe that the prestige of the institution will shield them from discrimination in the workplace. But stereotypes of Asians as technically competent, diligent and quiet continue to hold sway after college, and this makes Asians less likely to be promoted into management and leadership positions.

    JL: A recent report on leadership diversity at top technology companies found that Asian-Americans are the racial group least likely to be promoted into managerial and executive ranks. White men and women are twice as likely as Asians to hold executive positions. And while white women are breaking through the glass ceiling, Asian women are not. Asian-Americans are the forgotten minority in the conversation about the glass ceiling.

    Asian-Americans also fall behind in earnings. College-educated, U.S.-born Asian men earn 8 percent less than white men. Although Asian-American women are likely to earn as much as white women, they are less likely to be in a management role.

    What perpetuates these stereotypes? What can be done to change the thinking?

    KR: Part of the solution is to give Asian-Americans more opportunities to prove themselves as leaders. So, instead of just seeing an employee as someone who is technically competent, managers can give them more chances to lead projects and be comfortable taking small risks in providing them with those initial opportunities.

    At the same time, Asian-American employees can also do more to signal that they are “leadership material.” They can build up a portfolio of leadership opportunities outside of work through charitable and philanthropic activities, and they can also do more to start challenging the stereotype of Asians as quiet by questioning decisions more, and offering constructive criticism on managerial and executive decisions.

    JL: Karthick and I think a little differently on this issue. I agree that managers should give more opportunities to Asian-Americans to exhibit their leadership skills, but I also believe that we need to think more broadly and critically about the qualities that make a good leader. We tend to assume that leaders should be bold, brash and vocal, but this assumption privileges men, and, in particular, white men, who are more likely to cultivate and exhibit these characteristics.

    But a look at some of the country’s top chief executives, we find that they are described as listeners first. They are also described as team players who are empathetic, thoughtful, steady and measured rather than bold and brash.

    Thinking more broadly about the qualities that make a good leader and recognizing that different leadership models may be just as effective (if not more so) than traditional ones will broaden leadership opportunities for not only Asian-Americans, but also women, and other minorities. It would also benefit the members of the organization, who may respond more positively and work more effectively by seeing more diverse leaders at the helm.

    And how do these stereotypes affect Asian-American candidates in politics? It seems like it would be a high hurdle for any candidate to overcome.

    KR: Well, some kinds of stereotypes can actually help Asian-American candidates. So, for example, the model-minority stereotype of being technically competent or being quiet listeners can help candidates where those traits are valued. It’s remarkable, for example, how well Asian-American candidates have done in California’s elections for state treasurer and controller. John Chiang kicked off the trend in 2006, and today Betty Yee is the state controller and Fiona Ma will very likely be the next state treasurer.

    Even so, there are important limitations. First, it’s problematic if these model-minority stereotypes are used to contrast Asian-American candidates with negative stereotypes of opponents from other racial groups. In fact, many would argue that, even in isolation, model-minority stereotypes give an unfair advantage to candidates who should be judged on their records and not on stereotypes about them. Finally, the stereotype of being calm and technically competent can hurt candidates when they run for other types of offices, as John Chiang found out when he failed to make a name for himself and capture the excitement of primary voters in the California governor’s race.

    Democrats’ preference for affirmative action is well established. Will this support affect Asian-American voting patterns?

    KR: The Republican Party has been trying to see if affirmative action can be an effective wedge issue for Asian-Americans for a few years now. And results from different opinion surveys indicate that it might be working among the Chinese-American population, where support for affirmative action has plummeted in just four years. But the affirmative action wedge doesn’t seem to have worked as well among other Asian-American groups and, even among Chinese Americans, support for issues like education spending and health care access has meant that the Democratic Party still has an advantage among Chinese-Americans.

    Here in New York, the mayor recently recommended changing the admissions criteria for elite public schools, where Asian-Americans are vastly overrepresented. The number of spots for Asian-Americans would most likely be cut. Your thoughts?

    KR: Underlying the debate about changing the admissions criteria for New York City’s elite public schools and the debate about Harvard’s admissions process is the issue of how we define merit.

    For New York’s elite public schools, merit is defined solely by a student’s performance on a single test called the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Our colleagues have written extensively about this. They show a more complicated story about why black and Latino enrollment in these elite public schools have declined so much, including doing away with tracking in racially segregated middle schools and the rise of test prep programs. And they suggest that overhauling and investing in selective schools that are more racially diverse might be more effective in improving racial diversity.

    JL: The mayor’s proposal is not as radical as it may seem to New Yorkers. The University of Texas adopted a “Top 10 Percent rule” two decades ago, which gives those who graduated from the top 10 percent of any Texas high school a spot at any public university in the state, with the exception of University of Texas at Austin, where students must now graduate in the top six percent. But even that flagship campus has witnessed dramatic changes in the student population, with the largest increase in the Hispanic population, which reflects the state’s changing demographics. The white student population has declined, while the black and Asian populations have remained stable. Given the sharp decline in the white student population, it comes as little surprise that Texas senators are mulling the elimination of the Top 10 Percent rule.

    There are many ways to define merit, but we need to admit to ourselves that not every student has the same chance to show how meritorious she is because some metrics favor some groups over others.