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Recent Chinese economic growth, coupled with a push for diversity, has brought about an increase in Chinese international students studying at United States universities. The increase in students can be particularly noted at Ivy League institutions, where Chinese students now dominate the international enrollment. In this article, Alexis Lai analyzes why this increase has occurred, from both the Chinese and American perspectives. More Chinese families are able to afford to send their children to schools abroad due to an improved and growing Chinese economy. Additionally, Chinese parents want to send their children to the U.S. to relieve them from the stress of studying for the “gaokao” and grant them a “student-centered” education. International students are also viewed favorably in the eyes of college admissions officers because they create a global university, and are more likely to afford full tuition.

Reading this article reminded me of some of the points discussed in the article, “Quota on Excellence? The Asian American Admissions Debate” by Don T. Nakanishi. This 1989 Nakanishi article focuses on the low admissions rates for Asian American students at American institutions, and the controversies surrounding these admission rates. It is interesting to note that both the Lai and Nakanishi articles cite family economic success as a key determining factor for attending a U.S. institution.  Lai states that part of the reason for the increase in Chinese international students is that their families are wealthier than before. Chinese students used to be dependent on scholarships in order to attend U.S. universities, but can now pay tuition in full. Comparatively, Nakanishi mentions that the increase in Asian American enrollment is due to “phenomenal demographic growth” (page 5) and not a newfound desire to earn higher education. Nakanishi also mentions that not having a university connection through an alumnus could also explain the low admissions rates for Asian American students. However, there seems to be more opportunities to make these connections today, as the person profiled in Lai’s article attended two U.S. colleges and works for an admissions consultancy in Beijing.

Another topic that was touched upon in the Lai article was affirmative action and how United States admissions counselors decide who to offer admission to. I found a quote from Jay Lin, the admissions consultant in Beijing, to be quite interesting. He stated, “A school could easily fill itself with all Chinese student’s, but no school’s going to do that…it’s a double-edged sword—if you have too many Chinese, then the Chinese will stop coming to your school, and also Americans will stop coming to your school”. It was intriguing how Chinese students seek out the same diversity U.S. colleges work to achieve. As in the affirmative action articles we have read for class, the focus on admission rates and the college admissions department’s responsibility to create a diverse student body makes it seem as if diversity is entirely driven by the university. Noting that diversity is a characteristic that students desire at an institution of higher education makes diversity a quality that is for the student, as requested by the student.

-Rebecca (rv88)

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Earlier on in the semester when we read and discussed about early Chinese settlements in the United States, we observed that even upon leaving China in search of a new life, people gathered together to live in concentrated, ethnic communities in places such as California. Another interesting observation was the eventual dispersion of these groups over a wider geographical range within the country, all the way to the East Coast.

This article explores some of the recent interesting demographic changes in Manhattan’s Chinatown, which housing stock has long been thought of as being sought after almost exclusively by Chinese Americans and immigrants. Drawn to its proximity with other attractions in Manhattan such as SoHo, it is increasingly bringing in more non-Asians — as Mr Lam, a broker in Manhattan claims, “many of the buyers have been from outside the U.S.—including some from Russia, England and Sweden—and most are very young, between 25 and 45 years old. ” In fact, 2010 Census shows that there were 15% fewer Asian residents in the neighborhood than in 2000.

An interesting point to take note of in this article is the coagulation of Chinese Americans despite of the increasing demand of others to penetrate into their zones. Many non-Chinese find it hard to find opened residential listings in Chinatown for two main reasons: one, most are rentals, and two, the housings are “passed between Chinese families”. While it is precisely this sense of attachment towards their own kind that the Chinese immigrants were able to build a robust community of their own in the 19 century which were fundamental to their adjustment to their United States, it seems as so this same force deters their integration into the rest of America.

By Jill Seong (ds632)

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In this article, Terry Curtis Fox writes about how being in a minority group affects people’s politics. In the simplest form, his writing suggests that threatening one minority group is basically like threatening them all. According to him, minorities instinctively know, that policies that threaten one group will eventually threaten them, and the ones that protect one protects them all. So, even if groups may not always agree on everything, ranging from race to religion, they will protect each other from being oppressed by the majority.

In today’s politics, this means that if you estrange one group, you will likely estrange many others as well. So even though they all seem like very different issues, anything from a candidate’s stance on abortion, gay rights, or immigration may affect more people than the candidate may first realize. Fox claims that the Republicans side with the majority while the Democrats side with the minorities. He sees the reelection of Obama as proof that majorities are becoming more scarce. The red states on the electoral college show states in which there is still a clear majority. But in this era, in race, and in many other ways, people are becoming more diverse. And to win the votes of this diverse group, one has to show that they do not mean to harm any one group.

This means that whether it is true or not, calling China the source of all financial troubles, or trying to crush illegal immigration in one sweep, whoever the intended target, may have more repercussions than one may realize at first.

-Annie(eac233)

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Throughout the semester, we have talked extensively about the concept of model minorities. When we talk about model minority in class, we typically talk about a group of immigrants, such as Asian Americans as a whole, or sometimes specifically the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, or other such communities. Usually the words are tied to Asian Americans for their hard work and high education levels and standards. These days, it has gotten to the point where being an Asian may even be a disadvantage in affirmative action, because the pool of overachieving Asian Americans is rather large.

However, there is a big error in looking at one group of immigrants as “model minorities” while considering others to not be the same. In every group of immigrants there are those who work hard and climb up the social ladder, and those who, for one reason or another, don’t. In the above article, Ronnie Cameron, a defensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns, talks about his parents and his upbringing. His parents were both 1st generation immigrants. His mother from Haiti, and father from Trinidad and Tobago. Both of his parents worked very hard to provide for their three children in the U.S. and also for families overseas. All the while, they saved enough money to put a down payment on their home, and each started their own businesses. Growing up watching these model parents, all three children also became hard workers.

Just as Cameron’s parents show, model minorities should be sought individually, around us. It should not become a blanket statement to separate groups of immigrants from each other. The title is something that should be earned, not given by merit of skin color or origin.

Annie(eac233)

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Ever since the presidential elections earlier in the month, many articles have been written about the voting power and political leanings of minority groups, especially of Latinos and Asian Americans. This article points out a few reasons why Asian Americans may have in general voted Democratic, when “Asian Americans” as a whole seem to be a group that Republic values would conform well with. This argument generally references the fact that, as the article says, Asian Americans are “highly educated” and “relatively affluent.” A lot of this idea seems to pivot directly around Asian Americans being a block of model minority voters, with strong traditional family values, but as this article also points out, Asian Americans are a diverse group of people from very different backgrounds. Some believe that if the Republic party were to try harder to embrace minorities, they would find much more support from those groups, but perhaps the model minority just doesn’t really work as an minority analogue to educated, affluent white voters.

As this article says, many immigrants are from Asian countries, and of those, many are from China. They may be put off by the anti-China sentiments being thrown around. Asian American immigrants historically have strong transnational ties, whether a Chinese laborer from the late 1800s or a Cambodian refugee from the 1970s. White voters may not have these same bonds to their ancestral homelands, and those countries may not be receiving the same kinds of criticism that China is.

I found myself noticing the initial framing of the racial groups was typical: Asian Americans were set up as a group that is nonwhite, but unlike other racial minorities, rich/educated/etc. like white people. Once again, there’s a hierarchy here: minorities are at the bottom, but Asians can find themselves rising to the top like the white majority, only this time, the story is about how Asian Americans “sided” with other minorities, despite their “better” position in the hierarchy.

– Rachel (ryw6)

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Every four years, the U.S. Presidential Election presents not only an opportunity to vote and create change, but also an opportunity to reflect on how the American people are defining their nation. Do the votes of the election represent a more cohesive United States or a “fractured” nation? Or do the policies approved during the election show that a previously-reserved America is become more liberal? In “The New America: What the Election Teaches Us about Ourselves”, Josh Levs discusses what the results of 2012 Presidential Election show about the American viewpoint, and what this implies for the nation as a whole.

A topic that Levs focuses on in his article is whether or not the United States now is a more inclusive nation or more “racially polarized”. The article argues that the election of more women, Asian-American, and Latino representatives to Congress, along with the reelection of Obama, shows that “Americans are moving toward a much more inclusive sense of what an American is” (as quoted from Clara Rodriguez, a sociology professor at Fordham University). However, the fact the Romney received the white and elderly vote, while Obama received the minority and youth vote, can be an argument for a divided America. The “inclusive America” viewpoint represents that progress has been made for minorities, while the “fractured America” viewpoint presents the problem of how to unify America. Both viewpoints are reminiscent of Asian American activism. The activists pushed for inclusion by defending attacks against their race and promoting a diverse learning environment at universities. The activists also had to figure out how to reconcile their heritage differences in order to form a strong, cohesive group. This is similar to what the United States population will have to do in order to create complete inclusion.

While not discussed extensively in the article, I think it is interesting to note how the election results show a diverse, inclusive America on the outside, but a separated America on the inside. This is at the essence of the difficulty with creating a completely inclusive America. In order to be completely inclusive, people need to be accepting of an inclusive mindset. The article puts it best by stating that “America will soon belong to the men and women … who can comfortably walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that…there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions.” (as quoted from writer David Simon). An inclusive America can exist, but only if U.S. citizens are comfortable with the idea. The article offers few suggestions on how to achieve this mindset, and to create the “reactive solidarity” which motivated Asian American activists seems unattainable on a national level. Perhaps the human condition will unite the U.S., but forming a unified nation truly accepting of inclusion may be a challenge America itself faces in the years to come.

-Rebecca (rv88)

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Affirmative action, initiated by President John F. Kennedy more than 50 years ago, is still the topic of many debates and arguments around the country. As Fischer v. U of Texas rages on in the supreme courts, Harvard students had their own heated debate over their school paper, the Crimson. The debate started with Jane Doe’s (Jane remains unnamed as the author of this article, Wyatt Troia, wished) article arguing that affirmative action does more harm than good. Two more articles were then written in response, arguing against Jane Doe. However, these three articles were not the end of the discussion. Taking form through online social media, Jane Doe received many hateful, snide comments attacking her character, such as being called “one of the most dangerous types of rich white people” and “a dumb illiterate piece of [sh*t].”

There are distinct positive and negative effects of affirmative action, as we have discussed in class. It brings about a rich and diverse environment in schools, where students from different walks of life can meet in a classroom and discuss the varying viewpoints they bring to each discussion. At the time of its creation, it gave talented minority students the assurance that they would not be denied admission based on the color of their skin. It is true that using affirmative action also decreases the chances of some majority students from gaining admission. Whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs in this situation is a very difficult question that is hard to answer without causing an explosion of emotions on both sides.

Annie(eac233)

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