Emil Guillermo: My holiday gift to you--A Disaggregated Asian America!

December 21, 2016 4:08 PM

With the inaugural in less than a month, and Christmas just days away, this is a special year.

Despair looms ahead.

And that requires a special holiday treat.

In the spirit of solidarity, I feel compelled to offer you the gift of perspective! 

Look at it this way. What's before us won't be all that bad. Not all at once. It will hurt. But not forever.

Reassuring, right?

Still, whatever happens come Jan. 20 or thereafter should give us something real to take action against. It's not just the impending boogeyman. He will finally arrive, and we're going to have to stick together as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with all our friends and allies, if we're going to pull through as the nation we want to be.

And so here's a gift that you should use and refer back to whenever necessary.

Whenever someone says something stupid about Asian Americans, like, we're all rich, or we're so successful we're practically white...

Then come back to the info in these charts. Use it as evidence.

For example, when someone says Asians have a higher median income than whites, you can acknowledge that yes, that may seem to be the case. 


But then enlighten this person by unpacking the numbers and showing how a lot more Asian Americans are making less than everyone thinks.

In fact, a far larger number of Asian Americans makes under the U.S. median of $60,000 a year than anyone thinks.

We just don't see them.


The same goes with educational attainment, another Asian American stereotype.

"You're so smart, you wreck the curve!" 

How many times have we all heard that?

It's true that 51 percent of Asian Americans have bachelor degrees or better. Much higher than the overall national population at 30.6 percent. 


But unpack the numbers and voila. There are more Asian Americans than you think who don't have even a high school degree. 


As we move into a new Trump era where government gets cut while corporations swell, public services are likely to dwindle.

We can't let stereotypical thinking about Asian American numbers and stats dictate policies.

There are real needs in the Asian American community that policymakers need to understand when they consider Asian America.

These are numbers taken from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. I talked to the lead researcher Kavya Vaghul. 

Listen to my interview with her here.

It's all about disaggregation of the stats so that people don't overly generalize and give us a lump of coal when budgets are carved up and distributed. 

Right now, it's too easy to ignore Asian Americans. Or when they recognize us, to be overpraised and told we're doing just fine! 

Privatization folks will say just put our money outside of government for schools and services.

That seems to be where Trump is going.

But there are many of us in the Asian American community who still have tremendous needs.

Privatization isn't going to get us where we all need to be. 

Unpacking the numbers, disaggregating the stats, and showing the hidden truth will be needed as we fight in 2017 and beyond.

See the numbers here.

2017 will require a new way of seeing things. Disaggregating the numbers provides the evidence we'll need to fight for Asian Americans' fair share.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


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