As we conclude May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, below is the transcript from a webchat that I recently did through the U.S. State Department with participants connected with U.S. embassies in various Asian countries. Overall, I think the webchat turned out well and I was happy to be a part of it.

At the same time, I noticed that many of the participants (presumably both U.S.- and foreign-based) have the same erroneous assumptions that I’ve discussed numerous times in this blog — that being “Asian” is the same as being “Asian American.” If anything, I hope that my answers helped to clarify both the similarities and differences between these two sets of experiences and issues.

  • What is Asian Pacific American heritage?

    Asian Pacific American heritage includes the history, experiences, and contributions of Americans of Asian descent. These contributions can be cultural, economic, and political.

  • What are your specialties, what is your site about, and how can we participate on your website?

    I mainly study the social and demographic characteristics of Asian Americans and different forms of assimilation and integration that they undergo, such as interracial and interethnic marriage, owning their own small business, living in an ethnic community, etc. My site discusses these and other political, economic, and cultural issues and news events related to Asian Americans. There is a comment section at the bottom of each of the articles an blog posts on my site where readers can share their reactions and opinions with each other. You can also contact me directly through a message form on my site as well.

  • I’m from Cambodia. What can I help contribute to the APA heritage?

    Globalization and demographic changes have resulted in more connections between Asian countries and the U.S. so Asian Americans have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront on such changes for the benefit of everyone involved. Many Asian citizens already have connections to friends and relatives in the U.S. and can serve as a valuable part of this emerging network.

  • Have you studied in a foreign country and if so, what did you think?

    Unfortunately I’ve never studied abroad, which is something that I regret not doing while in college.

  • Do you have any activities relating to Viet Nam and China around Hoang Sa Island?

    I’m sorry but I don’t have any activities that relate directly to that region. My expertise is in Asian American issues, rather than Asian issues. In fact, I should take this opportunity to make a small correction in Jennryn’s introduction of me — I’m a professor of Asian American Studies, not Asian Studies.

  • Could you give some reflections about the relationship between Asia and the U.S?

    It’s certainly a very complicated issue and one that contains many contradictions. For example, the U.S. loves the cheap labor and natural resources that Asia offers but is suspicious of the power that Asian countries represent. It’s a similar situation with Asian Americans — the rest of America loves the cultural contributions that Asian Americans have added to American society like Chinese restaurants, but is wary that Asian Americans frequently are more educated and make more money than the rest of the U.S.

  • A coworker of mine would like to ask C.N. Le about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. She says this year, it will feature Asian Americans (and Mexico). Dates are June 24-28 and July 1-5.

    From what I know if it, I think it’s a good idea to include other racial/ethnic groups in these kinds of festivals. We all live in the same society and have to interact with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, so it makes sense to get to know our neighbors more and to celebrate the many similarities and connections that we share together.

  • How can Asian culture spread in America?

    In fact, many aspects of Asian culture has been incorporated into the American mainstream. This includes media and pop culture examples like anime, manga, martial arts movies, etc. Also includes food, some forms of fashion and other kinds of trends. The key component of this infusion of Asian culture into America is that hopefully Americans will understand and appreciate the history of the culture behind the trend, and not just see it as another commodity or accessory.

  • I want to study out side of my country but am poor in English, so what can I do?

    Well I’m not an expert on study abroad advising but I presume that your school or college offers English classes for you to improve your English skills so that you can one day feel comfortable in studying in the U.S.

  • What kind of stereotypes do you address in your website?

    There have been two main stereotypes that Asian Americans have encountered through the years. First is that all Asian Americans are foreigners — this is the idea that we’re outsiders and not ”real” Americans, even though many Asian Americans have been in the U.S. for several generations and in terms of their values, behaviors, and loyalty, are just as American as anybody else. Second is the stereotype that all Asian Americans are the same — that there are no differences between ethnic groups — that being Chinese American is the same as Japanese American etc.

  • People say that America is a melting-pot, what do you think about this?

    There are some aspects of that melting pot image that is true. As I mentioned, different aspects of Asian culture have been incorporated into the American mainstream. Also, interracial marriage between different racial groups through the years have resulted in the emergence of a growing mixed race/multiracial population. On the other hand, in terms of political power the U.S. is still a very segregated society unfortunately.

  • What are main problems of population growth?

    I’m not sure the main problem is population growth per se but rather the economic opportunities that are associated with growing populations. If a society has the proper resources where growing populations can be adequately cared for, educated, and employed, then the problems normally associated with population growth are less of a concern.

  • I don’t understand what you mean when you mention that Asian Americans are not real Americans and there are no differences between ethnic groups. Can you explain more?

    I will use the example of Vincent Chin — he was a Chinese American living in Detroit in 1982 who was beaten to death by two White men who mistook him for being Japanese and blamed him for them losing their jobs as autoworkers. In this example, we see that the two White men did not differentiate between being Chinese or Japanese — that’s the stereotype that all Asians are the same. Second, they assumed that because of his Asian ancestry that he was not a real American and in fact, accused him of being an enemy of the U.S. by taking over their jobs — this is the stereotype that all Asians are foreginers and not real Americans.

  • Can you give us an example of some of the interesting census statistics you deal with related to diversity?

    Yes, Census statistics paint a very interesting picture — Asian Americans are currently about 5% of the total US population but will increase to about 10% in a few decades. The Latino population has increased significantly as well — from about 15% now to about 25% in a few decades. In fact, around the year 2045, Whites will no longer comprise a majority of the population — they’ll still be the largest racial group by far, but non-Whites will eventually make up more than 50% of the US population.

  • America is a new continent, what has America created as their own heritage?

    America’s heritage is that it offers some of the best opportunities in the world for people to improve their lives. That is why billions of people around the world want to come to the U.S. and in fact, feel compelled to come here without authorization. The US is the first choice of destination for many people around the world because of all the opportunities it offers. But that is also why it is so frustrating when people come here and run into different barriers on their way to accessing those opportunities. Hopefully the US can remember and emphasize its role as the land of opportunity as we move forward in the 21st century.

  • Thanks for the opportunity to share my work. I enjoyed answering people’s questions and hope that we all continue these kinds of discussions in other parts of our work and lives.

February is Black/African American History Month and the Census Bureau has again provided us with an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics for this occasion:

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U. S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month.

40.7 million
As of July 1, 2007, the estimated population of black residents in the United States, including those of more than one race. They made up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population.

65.7 million
The projected black population of the United States (including those of more than one race) for July 1, 2050. On that date, according to the projection, blacks would constitute 15 percent of the nation’s total population.

38%
Percentage of Mississippi’s population that is black, highest of any state. Blacks also make up more than a quarter of the population in Louisiana (32%), Georgia (31%), Maryland (30%), South Carolina (29%) and Alabama (27%). They comprise 56% of the population in the District of Columbia.

2.4 million
Number of single-race black military veterans in the United States in 2007. More military veterans are black than any other minority group.

19%
Percentage of single-race blacks 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007.

1.2 million
Among single-race blacks 25 and older, the number who had an advanced degree in 2007 (e.g., master’s, doctorate, medical or law). In 1997, 717,000 blacks had this level of education.

$88.6 billion
Revenues for black-owned businesses in 2002. The number of black-owned businesses totaled nearly 1.2 million in 2002. Black-owned firms accounted for 5 percent of all non-farm businesses in the United States.

$33,916
The annual median income of single-race black households in 2007, up from $32,876 (in 2007 constant dollars) in 2006.

24.5%
Poverty rate in 2007 for single-race blacks, statistically unchanged from 2006.

64.5%
Percentage of families among households with a single-race black householder. There were 8.5 million black family households.

46%
Nationally, the percentage of households with a householder who is single-race black who lived in owner-occupied homes. The rate was higher in certain states, such as Mississippi, where it reached 59%.

27%
The percentage of single-race blacks 16 and older who work in management, professional and related occupations. There are 49,730 black physicians and surgeons, 70,620 postsecondary teachers, 49,050 lawyers, and 57,720 chief executives.

With all of the recent buzz and excitement surrounding the Presidential election and Obama’s victory, I haven’t had the chance to post this until now:

November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and the Census Bureau has again provided us with an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics for this occasion:

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”

4.5 million
As of July 1, 2007, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race. They made up 1.5% of the total population.

30.3
Median age of the single-race American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2007, younger than the median of 36.6 for the population as a whole. About 27% of American Indians and Alaska Natives were younger than 18, and 8% were 65 and older.

5
Number of states where American Indians and Alaska Natives were the largest race or ethnic minority group in 2007. These states are Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

18%
The proportion of Alaska’s population identified as American Indian and Alaska Native as of July 1, 2007, the highest rate for this race group of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (11%) and New Mexico (10%).

76%
The percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma. Also, 13% had at least a bachelor’s degree.

25%
The percentage of civilian-employed American Indian and Alaska Native people 16 and older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. In addition, 23 percent worked in sales and office occupations and about the same percentage worked in service occupations.

$35,343
The 2007 median income of households where the householder reported being American Indian and Alaska Native and no other race.

25.3%
The 2007 poverty rate of people who reported they were American Indian and Alaska Native and no other race.